The folk view of composition is often that of an isolated, possibly unhinged genius, struggling alone at the piano or desk. However, in this article we will investigate the collaborative aspects of compositional life, showing how such an individualistic model of the composer is both accurate and inaccurate, and how this paradox is played out in current attempts to valorize collaborative work in composition. Although we intend some of the observations and conclusions from this article to generalize, we are fully aware that such a case-study can only really be illustrative and provocative. Given that this is the case we will finish by attempting to make some general points about the aesthetic and social contradictions which this study has brought to light. Our concern in this article is more prospective than retrospective: although we will refer to some historical data, we aim to reflect mainly on contemporary compositional practice in the West, and particularly the UK.