Refusing to take lockdown and a separation of 50 miles as a valid reason not to continue to create spontaneous musical magic and dived in to work out how to collaborate in the moment, in real time, from a distance. All of the internet solutions introduce time-lag that make make music remotely impossible – fine for a conversation, but impossible to play a downbeat together.

So, after Adam realised that the humble telephone landline creates only infinitesimal delay, Murray created a system allowing them to interact in real time over the landline, record the individually results in ‘studios’ 50 miles apart and then combine the recordings to reveal the results.

And so was born a series of video broadcasts on Facebook and YouTube, released to the world every Tuesday evening from March to June 2020. Nine ‘InCider Sessions’ followed by five ‘OutCider Sessions’ as lockdown eased and the duo were able to play, safely distanced, in a beautiful woodland glade.

Each broadcast was a varying mix of the duo’s take on trad tunes, some of their pure improvisations starting from a single note, contributions from a chicken called Jeremy Bird and some original poetry from Adam’s daughter Jessie as well as plenty of banter in between from Adam and Murray.

“Neither of us really understands how we managed this – it feels almost miraculous to listen back and hear that we have created real music. It was always a struggle against technology and reality and sometimes impossible – and sometimes we achieved it even though it was impossible. And that is what seems like a kind of magic.” says Adam.

People keep asking how we worked out the live synchronisation. Here is a diagram! One person also NEEDS TO RECORD THE SOUND FROM THE PHONE LINE to line up the audio afterwards (not in the diagram – easy in the studio, harder, but possible, with the separate recorder and little mixer set-up).

  • set up as in diagram below

  • attempt to adjust output levels from the recording device to allow the other person to hear enough (this is an extremely arbitrary process due to the phenomenon of ‘side talk’ on the landline … sometimes turning an output down seems to make a louder result for the person at the other end!)

  • each switch on your audio/video

  • each player click fingers or clap once

  • listen very very hard and experience audio horror for the length of time you play together

  • take recorded audio/video, line the clicks up with the audio recorded straight from the phone line.

  • ta-dah!!! (Or sometimes not ta-dah…)

And, hopefully, we will never need to do that again….