Collaborative Creative Commons music album: “2009 Twilight Under Velveteen Skies”

I’m pleased to share this music album with the world. A collaborative effort, featuring three other very talented and very cool people I befriended at ccMixter. It includes an original 4-way collaborative track, pieced together without having met one another.

2009 Twilight Under Velveteen Skies
Album cover adapted from “Leo Rising Over Trees, November 2002“, originally uploaded by alexpgp/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Album: “2009 Twilight Under The Velveteen Skies”.
By Ivan Chew and ccMixter friends:

Creative Commons License2009 Twilight Under Velveteen Skies by Ivan Chew & ccMixter Friends is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Singapore License.

Download the album at

Here’s the title track, Under The Velveteen Skies

If you liked it, check out the rest of the tracks below.


  1. Under The Velveteen Skies (6.06MB). Credits: Mikael Hansson, teru, Ivan Chew, narva9. Mixed by teru. Also posted at ccMixter (with more links to the samples created for the track).
  2. Lady of Shalott (4.81MB). Credits: Ivan Chew, narva9. Mixed by Ivan Chew. Originally posted at ccMixter.
  3. Twilight PeaceMix (4.39MB).Credits: teru, Mikael Hansson, Ivan Chew. Mixed by Ivan Chew. Originally posted at ccMixter.
  4. Twilight Falling (6.26MB). Credits: Ivan, Mikael. Mixed by Ivan Chew. Originally posted at ccMixter.
  5. Twilight Rock (4.12MB – this is where the Twilight Sample came from). Credits: Ivan Chew. Mixed by Ivan Chew. Originaly posted at StarfishStories.
  6. Twilight Myxtery (3.43MB). Credits: teru, narva9, Mikael Hansson, Ivan Chew. Mixed by teru. Originally posted at ccMixter.

The coolest part for me was the entire process. Here’s the sequence of events that led to the album:

  • Nov 11, 2008: I published Twilight (2008), a rock instrumental, at my band blog.
  • Dec 22, 2008: Received a notification from ccMixter that Teru remixed my Twilight basic melody, along with samples from narva9 and colab, to produce Twilight Myxtery. That was also how I discovered all three ccMixter users.
  • Between Feb 16 to 23, 2009: Somehow it dawned upon me that there were enough remixes based on the Twilight melody, that I could publish an online album with it. Since the tracks are all released under various Creative Common licenses, I could publish the album by just giving the proper credits the the creators. I didn’t have to ask permission from them to publish the compilation. But I thought the four of us could work on an original song. No harm asking.
  • Feb 22, 2009: I completed a remix, Lady Of Shallot,with help from narva9.
  • Feb 23, 2009: Emailed narva9, teru and colab (aka Mikael). In essence, I said I intended to publish an online album based on the Twilight remixes. A list of songs had been shortlisted, and these were already published in ccMixter. But I wondered if the four of us could produce a totally original track for this album.
  • Mar 2, 2009: By now, I had received positive replies from the three of them. colab suggested I could be the executive producer of sorts, and assign roles. At that point, we didn’t have any idea of what or how the collaboration would develop. But everyone was pretty cordial and obliging.
  • Mar 4 to 5, 2009: The challenge was that the four of us were only communicating via email. The starting point, I realised, had to be something for everyone to hear and comment. Like a throw-away code or prototype that can be discarded. So I sent a very rough mix to the group. colab replied on Mar 5 and suggested that we needed an owner to drive the direction and the decisions throughout the process. teru and narva9 agreed. So I said I’ll take the driver’s seat but essentially said no one was obligated to follow.
  • Apr 3, 2009: We picked up the discussion from the last correspondence on Mar 5. I checked if the collaboration was still on, and if it was I suggested we could use this sample from colab as the starting point. colab replied that he was “actively thinking about something” but not quite working on it yet 🙂 I suggested teru could add synth work, with narva9’s vocals as another “instrument” track. teru replied that he’ll play with colab’s sample and see what he can come up with. narva9 replied that she’ll wait for what we can come up with and then write words to it.
  • Apr 7, 2009: teru mailed a MP3 file to the group. He and colab had been bouncing ideas between Apr 6 and 7, and they were able to come up with a re-engineered version that sounded totally original (colab’s piece was in 3/4 time signature, and teru turned that into a 4/4). teru asked if the ‘sound sketch’ was in the right direction.
  • Apr 8, 2009: “NICE!” was my reply. I added that if that was merely a sketch, I couldnt’ wait for the finished work. The sample from teru and colab boosted my spirits, not only because the tune had a calm and uplifting quality but also the fact that the collaboration was heading somewhere. I imported the MP3 to GarageBand, added a brief guitar lead, an Erhu part, and some drums. Then emailed back to the rest using the remix to discuss ideas for further refinements to the track. colab replied with comments and suggestions to my remix. He suggested, and we agreed, that we all send individual parts as WAV or AIF to teru, who’ll piece everything together (“because he is very, very good at that”). We exchanged a few more emails on Apr 8 itself.
  • May 3, 2009: I didn’t hear anything from the rest since Apr 8/ 9. At that time, the H1N1 flu broke out. I emailed them to ask if everyone was OK. Also to ask if there were any updates on the collaboration. colab replied he had sent something to teru and now taking a break musically. narva9 replied that she now had teru’s Sketch #2 and would come up with some words in a week’s time.
  • May 18, 2009: narva9 informed the three of us that she has the words almost ready to go and was learning how to sing the song properly. The demo would be ready for us in a week’s time.
  • May 23, 2009: teru sent a Version2 with the “vocals + (lotsa) reverb, a beat and some light padding“. Added that the spacey feel might be due to his watching Star Trek the previous night. colab and I were wowed by the mix. We each gave suggestions for tweaking the arrangement (e.g. inserting a break, guitar part). teru then sends a Version1.5 without the drums and reverb. I listened to Versions 1.5 and 2. Decided to add an electric guitar part also a very brief Erhu at the intro and outro. Sent it off as Version3. colab gave his thumbs up for Version3.
  • Jun 1, 2009: teru emailed everyone Version4 without drums and with my guitars. And he invited everyone to comment. colab summed it up best with his reply: “I like it very much. This is better than so much other work out there – really top notch production. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have been part of it.” My reply was essentially the same. colab and I also offered more suggestions for the mix. I think at that point, we were pretty comfortable with each other and could freely (and still cordially) give comments.
  • Jun 6, 2009: teru reworked the track and came up with Version5. He incorporated the Erhu at the opening, guitar stereo-separated to mix in better, and first vocal chorus omitted. He added that this new mix really brought out everyone’s contributions, in his opinion. I was glad he felt that way. Version4 was nice. But Version5 was, as teru puts it, equally nice AND with a stronger statement from everyone’s contribution. colab wrote: “This is absolutely outstanding. And that’s all I have to say about that :)”
  • Jun 7, 2009: With the collaborative track done, we exchanged a few emails that were more administrative in nature. We decided to adopt a CC-BY-NC license, discussed the album title, how to list the credits etc. In between the emails, teru’s computer crashed while he was trying to save his files. He didn’t have the final version saved, so the MP3 for Version5 is the only one of its kind. I suggested we name the track “Under The Velveteen Skies”, as per narva9’s refrain.
  • Jul 10, 2009: Taking everyone’s comments into account, we managed to settle on the album name and credits.
  • Jul 11 to Aug 1, 2009: I decided to re-adjust the sound levels for some of the tracks that I had mixed earlier (e.g. Lady of Shallot, Twilight rock instrumental).
  • Aug 2, 2009: Created the album cover from this image. Keyed in the metadata for each track. Finalised the track order; renamed the files. Uploaded to Emailed teru, narva9 and Mikael that the album is finally up.

Again, my thanks to teru, narva9 and Mikael. Truly, the album wouldn’t be here without you folks.

9 thoughts on “Collaborative Creative Commons music album: “2009 Twilight Under Velveteen Skies”

  1. nice! really brings the listener on a journey. i like the title track best – sets the tone for the rest of the songs, and creates the soothing but yet curious imagery of the journey to be undertaken.

    • Firdaus! Dude, how’s things? Thanks for listening and for commenting. Glad you liked the tracks. The title track is also my favourite, because it was a truly collaborative track with everyone chipping in and shaping it as it progressed. You know, I think I’ve said it before: I should get you to write the blurbs for my albums!

  2. sweet… i enjoyed reading how this came about as well as listening to the outcome… twilight or not, to me it sounds more like the soundtrack to a lazy sunday afternoon 🙂 I wish I could make some time for myself to make some new music and remixes, it’s been an old hobby of mine. by the way, why didn’t you upload track and samples back to ccmixter? and did you have any issues with respect to licensing/ownership of music and samples? was that something you had to discuss at some point?

    • >>>
      by the way, why didn’t you upload track and samples back to ccmixter? and did you have any issues with respect to licensing/ownership of music and samples? was that something you had to discuss at some point?
      Hi Giorgos, the stems for the original collaborative track “Under Velveteen Skies” will be posted to ccMixter soon. It’s a reverse-ccMixter in a way. [UPDATE: the track has been uploaded, together with the samples]

      No, we didn’t have any issues with licensing since all the stems were already CC-licensed. And for the original track, we agreed on a CC-BY-NC before we got started. It was something we discussed very early on (Feb 09, when I sent the invite). I can say confidently that the collaboration was made possible because of the Creative Commons movement.

  3. Pingback: Collaborative Creative Commons music album: “2009 Twilight Under Velveteen Skies” « Creative Commons Singapore

    • Hello! Thanks for dropping by. Speaking of Dan, I’ve used one of his guitar instrumental track for this song.

      Please tell Dan I said ‘Hi’. I don’t know him personally and we’ve never met. CC really does promote creativity. And goodwill 🙂

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