Mixology

Posted: November 23, 2012 in Music Industry
Tags: , , , ,
The ability to make the perfect mix requires detail. You can’t just put any random tracks together – there should be a theme, a purpose or a sound that unites them together. The songs should flow regardless of the order in which they are played, and the listener – be it yourself or someone else – shouldn’t want to turn it off. My favourite mixed tape of all time was a U2’s Greatest Hits I put together: if I knew where it was right now, and if anyone had a tape deck, I’d still be listening to it. It’s an art, one which most people aren’t aware exists. It also has quite the history.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           This first version of the “mixtape” involved either taping songs off the radio onto a cassette tape, or from one cassette tape to another – if you were lucky enough to own a tape player/stereo/boombox with two tape decks and a “record” feature. Putting together a mix of your favourite tracks, involved: precise timing to ensure you recorded only what you wanted, nothing more nothing less; your constant presence to monitor the recording process ie hitting start and stop; when taping off the radio, having to hover around the stereo waiting for the track to air; your ability to choose only 19-22 favourite tracks, based on the length of your chosen cassette tape ie 60 or 90 minutes. Although rewarding, it was an arduous process.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Once compact discs (CDs) were invented, things started to change. Now one could record from a CD to a cassette tape which meant much better sound quality and clarity. Some elite stereos featured multiple CD decks, so you could choose between them without having to eject them. When CD burners came out, you could record from CD to CD which was a similarly arduous process to recording from tape to tape, just with better sound. In terms of music’s portability, it evolved from hand held boomboxes, as featured in most early 90s rap videos; to Walkmen for cassette tapes; then to Discmen for CDs, an inferior contraption due to its necessary bulkiness, and its uncanny inability to prevent the CD from skipping; inevitably leading to a scratched disc that stutters during half the tracks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Downloading music soon became all the rage. Kids of all shapes and sizes used Napster, Limewire, etc to collect as much music as they could, without having to pay a hefty price. It also allowed you to select exactly which tracks you wanted, as opposed to being stuck with an entire mediocre album. Though musicians weren’t exactly a fan of this method, it was also breaking ground for many artists – especially new ones – to have their music heard: a teenager would much more likely download music from a band they’ve never heard of for free, instead of paying for it. With this frenzy came the Mp3 CD whose best advantage was the ability to put hundreds of songs on a single CD. However, once again putting one together proved to be complicated, as tracks often had to be converted to a certain format in order to be burned onto a CD. Not to mention, not all CD players at the time supported the Mp3 CD format, therefore rendering them useless.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nowadays, not only can we download for free, or for a reasonable fare (that’s you iTunes,) but we can also make mixes as long as we want to, without the hassle of the process, and without the burden of having to carry loads of CDs around everywhere. Thanks to Playlists. All it takes is selecting songs already downloaded/imported into our music library, and combining as many as we want, how ever we want to; add a witty title to the compilation and that’s all there is to it. Plus all the free music- streaming websites on which you can make you own playlists (ie YouTube, Songza etc.) The bonus: with iPods, Mp3 players, tablets, and cell phones, music is as portable and accessible as it has ever been.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A mixtape’s most important feature is its uniqueness. It’s personal, it caters to the individual and is another form of expression. It’s something to turn to when you’re in a particular mood, to help let those feelings out. Like a friend who’s pre-programmed to share your feelings (kind of creepy, I know.) Listening to someone’s playlist/mix will give you insight into who they are and how they feel, without even having a conversation. Which is why I say it’s an art. Most of all, it gives us the opportunity to be ourselves, introduce people to our music and harmoniously mix things together.
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