Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mixes, MashUps & Loops in the 21st Century

MusicTechnologyAs much as you might think that this post is going to be about cake mix, mashed potatoes and Fruit Loops (all of which are quite worthy of their own 'day in the blog sun') I must confess that it is not.

We will now have a brief moment of silence to mourn that fact.



Okay, now that that heartbreak is gone, I want to delve into the Wide World of Music.

One of the newer trends in house and dance music is to take all or part of one song and combine it with a different song. When this is done, you get a new song that is the composite of the originals and altogether different from both. Mixes and mashups.

In order to understand what it is that I am speaking of, let me set the basic definition of the terms that we will use in class today.
  • Mix / Mixes: the audio engineer takes the vocal portion of a song (the audio track(s)) and creates new music behind that established vocal audio. Same words with the same tune to new background music (background track(s)).

  • MashUp: the audio engineer takes the audio track of a song and overlays it on top of the background track of a different song. A mashup can contain any number of audio tracks as well as background tracks, thus increasing the mixing complexity of the mashup. In most cases, the resulting song will not contain 100% of any of the original material - vocals or background tracks. A mashup is a mix, but not necessarily the opposite.

  • Loops: a loop is a common part of most mixes and mashups, that when repeated, create a continuous audio line with no breaks. In general, a loop is a small portion of a song that is a certain number of bars/measures long that makes for clean repetition. In standard 4/4, time a loop will usually be 4, 8 or 16 measures long. These loops will be strung together in order to create longer passages of music.

    A loop can be represented visually, quite easily. Take the numerical sequence 1,2,3,2 and consider it a loop. When strung together in the audio software, the sequence creates a repeating pattern. Thusly:

    1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2 . . .
With the propagation of digital instruments and their prolific infiltration in to most musical genres, extracting good loops (samples) from music has become extremely easy. Beyond that, being digital in nature and created with computer controlled tempo instruments, these songs are perfectly in time - making it easy to match one loop to another with computer software. One such software, and the one I use the most, is Sony's, Acid Music Studio.

When we consider the ample amount of music that we have available to us in the 21st century, and the power those computers and SW command, the number of mixes and mashups that can be assembled is truly unlimited. If you can dream up a combination, with enough time and effort you could even mix Van Beethoven with VanHalen.

With all that said, I have found that with my musical abilities and love for computing, I can create some pretty cool audio compositions without having to go the synthesizer and hammer it all out by hand - and I don't have to rack my brain trying to come up with completely new material in order to have an original song at the end of the process.

Like all good mixers and mashup artists, I have to have a cool handle to show my, well, coolness. So like The Kleptones, DJ Zebra and the like, I am now to be known (mix/mash musically) as Beau Austin Mix.

For your enjoyment I have given you an example of three different types of compositions showing mix, mashup and a song composed completely of loops, that are not part of any other song. Just loops for loops sake.

NOTE: These are HIGH QUALITY MP3 files and may take a while to load, so please be patient.

  • Mix: Micheal Jackson - Smooth Criminal vocal track with new background music.

    Beau Austin Mix - Techno Criminal

  • Mashup: A mashup of Run DMC- Walk This Way, Queen - Another One Bites The Dust and Janet Jackson - Nasty vocal track.

    Beau Austin Mix - Run Queen Janet

  • Loop Mix:

    Beau Austin Mix - High Desert Riders

Please let me know what you think by posting your comments below. And when you do, all posters will get a free gift from me - the gift of AIR - all you can breathe for the rest of your natural days! I'm really generous, that way.

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