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Online Musical Collaborations 2.4


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Our latest project was producing a CD of play along tracks for Saxophone Journal magazine...
—Kyle Whitlock
By Chris Burnett

Musician Kyle Whitlock is from Columbia, South Carolina-where he is a studio composer of many genres of music, and also a musician-for-hire in many different jazz and variety music ensembles. He has also composed music for radio and television. He has played keyboards and drums/percussion professionally for over 25 years, and has written a huge catalog of compositions. [ LISTEN ]

Kyle began releasing these instrumental songs on CD in 1999. His writing is a blend of musical styles and themes including Contemporary jazz, Progressive Rock, New age, Electronic, World, and Solo piano. Overall his compositions are very reflective pieces that take the listener on a musical and aural journey.

Kyle is actually a mostly self-taught keyboard player, although he acquired some formal education early on. In junior high and high school he played drums and percussion instruments in concert and marching bands. Later he earned a Business Administration degree from the University of South Carolina. Throughout college he studied with a private jazz piano tutor and also learned the fundamentals of music theory and composition.

Through the years Kyle's musical experiences have been many. He learned many styles of music while performing in jazz, rock, blues, R & B, gospel and other musical ensembles. His performances have taken him coast-to-coast through the United States. He has performed with the Contemporary Jazz group Kom'en In'trist for over seven years. The group has one CD out of all original music. Kom'en In'trist has performed at some of the largest music festivals and venues in the southeast, and recently at Columbia's very own 3 Rivers Festival.

Currently he is collaborating with musical friends from around the world on a variety of musical projects, and using the Internet as a convenient tool for information exchange. In late 1999 he created a music site at MP3.com to help promote his latest CD. Since then, one of his jazz songs (Oasis) went to #29 in the top 50 charts, and another song (Song of Summer) went to #10!

Kyle's music is now featured on over 30 different Internet radio stations. In May of 2001, his keyboard playing was featured on an educational CD that was released by Jazz Player magazine. He just released his second full length CD entitled "Caldron of Joy," at MP3.com during June of 2001. This CD features musicians from such countries as the United States, Italy and Canada.

Trademarks of his style include strong rhythmic elements, alternating use of tight and loose song structures, improvised melodic lines and an advanced harmonic approach, lush orchestrations, and a strong sense of unpredictability in overall musical form. Much of his writing entails a short story approach to composition.

Musical influences include Weather Report, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck, Bruce Hornsby, Niacin, John Novello, Jeff Lorber, Kit Watkins, Bob James, Keith Jarrett, Electromagnets, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Larry Fast, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, ELP, Yes, Procol Harum, Aaron Copeland, Stockhausen, George Crumb, Phillip Glass, Erik Satie, Debussy, Beatles, and many others.


KW: I met Bob Johnson during the late 90's online. At that time he was already involved in doing online music production with a few folks from around the world. Bob introduced me to some of the mechanics of digitizing music files for travel over the Internet.

Along the same time I re-established contact with Chris Burnett online. We had met personally, while he was visiting a mutual musician friend here in South Carolina, a few years earlier. He was responsible for showing me the workings of online music distribution via some of the websites like mp3.com, Ampcast.com and others. Chris and I also did an online music project of one of his compositions.


KW: The first incarnation of the Funkdawgs group consisted of only 4 or 5 other members, but later grew to a much larger number as time went on. The core group when we started out was, and to this day include:

The common thread that runs among all these musicians is the overwhelming desire to create new music. Also noteworthy is the fact that all of these musicians did not have an over abundance of available local musician peers to perform with at certain technical and experience level.

So, there was a will and then came a way for creating nice tunes even without having the other musicians in the same room as you!


KW: The composer of a new tune will decide what parts/instruments he wants for the tune. He then decides whom he wants to play on the song. A rough sketch/scratch track is created via a PC, or stand-alone type recorder.

The song is digitized into an industry standard mp3 file, which compresses it into a much smaller size for sending over the Internet. Sometimes sheet music is sent depending on the complexity of the tune.

The first musician loads that mp3 file into his computer, studies the composition and decides what to play. After recording a new part on another track-along with the original track in near perfect sync, a new mp3 file is created and sent back to the composer.

The composer decides if a retake is needed or any other polishing up to the song. When the new track is ready, the composer makes a new recording of it and then prepares to send it to the next musician and so on.

When all tracks are done, then the composer makes a final mix of it. Then it can be uploaded to various websites for Internet promotion and playback.


KW: I have 3 CD's of all original music that feature some of the Funkdawgs members. Some of the best songs from these CD's might include:
  • Dilemma on Duncan St - from "Ambient Earth," mainstream jazz
  • Jumpstart -from "Caldron of Joy," fusion jazz
Some other notable tunes from our collection include:
  • Sidewaze - from "Ambient Earth," a bluesy R & B number
  • Cool Inferno - by Bill Lawrence, progressive fusion rock
  • Something Brewin' - by Bobby Brewer, progressive bluegrass
  • Cintra - by Carl Eichman, Latin-fusion jazz
  • 4th dimension, Fizz, Los Caminos - by Bob Johnson, fusion jazz
I have done many sessions with the Funkdawgs over the last 2 ? years. We probably have 5-6 CD's total of all original tunes. Our latest project was producing a CD of play along tracks for Saxophone Journal magazine, an international publication for wind players. Bob spearheaded these magazine projects.

The 'Dawgs wrote 5 tunes for the CD, that includes full versions of the songs, music without the melody and lead charts. In 2001 we did another similar project for Jazz Player magazine. That article detailed how to produce music in a home studio on a budget, as well as provide music and lead sheets for all of the tunes.


KW: Working with the core group of musicians in the Funkdawgs has opened up many opportunities for collaborating with other folks out there-who want to create new music. I feel that all of the many tunes we have done as a group really shine in one way or another.


KW: We are polishing our skills as online composers as each new song rolls in for production. We hope one day to actually get together for a live performance!

Writer's Note:

Part 3 of this particular musing features another outstanding musician from Germany, named Mathias Claus. Mat is making the step from online collaborations to include live performance events for he and his virtual colleagues.

Part 3 - Mathias Claus [His Online Collaborations become a Live Event]

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