Amy Mallet

Bath Spa University, UK

‘You will grow to hate emails from me’: composing in a remote [digital] collaboration

The practice of studying collaboration within a virtual setting is a relatively new approach to arts research, but one that is already informing new perspectives on collaboration, as multinational teams become increasingly prevalent across many creative fields. For the artist-researcher, the asynchronous nature of remote idea exchange offers a valuable opportunity to reflect upon and develop both their collaborative skill and artistic process. This paper recounts the UK-based author’s remote, trans-global partnership with Canadian writer Gary Swartz in the composition of music for pop/rock/blues musical Whispers of the Heart (2014). A mixed-method approach is outlined, involving triangulation of quantitative and qualitative findings from a discourse analysis of email correspondence, composer notes and co-collaborator interview. Textual analysis of correspondence recorded the frequency of five types of exchange in the written statements of each collaborator and suggests the importance of ‘small talk’ in establishing a relationship conducive to positive collaborative interchange. A retrospective review of the creative process highlights how periodical email and digital file exchange can provide objective space in which to digest and cogitate feedback given. It is further argued that by effectively exploiting the contained environment of a remote [digital] collaboration, auto-ethnographic study can facilitate the identification of enablers and barriers to collaborative practice, and also go some way to de-mystify and develop the composer’s creative process.

Keywords— Composing, collaboration


Dr. Amy Mallett has been composing and performing music since childhood, taking musical influences from jazz, folk, rock and classical styles. Her work is often inspired by contemporary and historical stories. She enjoys collaborating with practitioners from other art forms to create multidimensional works. Amy is interested in interdisciplinary collaboration, research as practice and creativity as a catalyst for change and growth. She recently completed a practice-based PhD which involved the creation and production of four works of musical theatre within different collaborative models (2018). Passionate about arts engagement, Amy is currently Associate Musician for English National Ballet’s Dance For Parkinsons programme and Musical Director for Unscene Suffolk, a theatre company for adults with visual impairment. She also works for charities LifewithArt and the Little Amber Trust.