What’s More Fun Than a Mashup?

(By the way, the answer is nothing.)

Hey, everyone! Hope you’ve been enjoying the blog so far and have found some useful info and helpful tips. Today’s topic, in case you haven’t figured it out, is mashups. Whether you know them as boots, cutups, blends, or smashups, they’re awesome and so much fun to do. For the uninitiated, this technique overlays the vocals of a song over the instrumentals of another. There was a radio station I listened to as a kid and they used to do it—it was the most amazing thing I’d heard (until I got older, obviously). It opened an entire world of possibilities in my mind of what could be done with music. Then I got older and started listening to DJs like Danger Mouse (ahh, The Grey Album) and Girl Talk.

Now, thanks to the internet, I have access to DJs all over the world who love creating mashups. There is a subreddit where people post lots of fun mashups. But I am a huge fan of the site Mashup Town because they give you a good variety of big, downloadable files. If you want more of a “yearbook” type recap, I’ve got two favorites: Check out Daniel Kim’sDanthology site, this year was so big, he had to make two mixes; and there’s DJ Earworm, who does summer AND year-end mixes.

Creating a successful mashup takes a good ear for music—you have to be able to hear how the songs will work together, adjusting the tempo and key as necessary. There is some software out there to make the job easier, however.  There’s Mixed In Key’s Mashup software, which lets you do things like add vocals to instrumental music and even pull out the drums while it matches the key for you. It makes things incredibly easy and is pretty reasonable as far as cost goes. Audacity, on the other hand, is free open sourceware that gives you the capability of splicing, changing pitch and tempo, and recording your own audio. It’s a pretty robust program considering it is free. I like to mess around with it when I’m bored.  Obviously, there are copyright issues. Some artists clearly don’t WANT you to mess with their songs, and I get that. But if people never improved on a product, there would never be progress, right? We’d all still be using ridiculous analog flip phones and all kinds of other nonsense. Most DJs feel that the music created through a mashup falls under “fair use” laws, but that is some murky waters that I’m not gonna stick my toe in at the moment. I’m mentioning it so that you understand if you post your mashups online or play them publicly (which is why you won’t find any of mine on this site; host rules) there is the potential for someone to get a bug up their butt about it…and well. It can be sticky. And that’s my PSA for the day. Don’t let it discourage you, though. Mix it up. Stand out.  Play YOUR music. Have fun!