This assignment I did was another attempt at doing the Music Mashup assignment from the DS106. This time I wanted it to be an improvement over the previous mashup, when I tried combining NaNa and Naughty Girl. This time I wanted to:
1. Attempt to use 2 songs which were not close in bpms (beats per minute)
2. Using 2 songs which were not close in genre and
3. Do a live mix for the recording where I manipulate the speed/pitch for the two tracks in Mixxx rather than have the two tracks play out from start to end at the same speed/pitch that they started at.
For this project I decided from the last Mashup I did that I wanted to use the instrumental from one of my favorite songs that were released from this years Trinidad Carnival festival. Too Real from Soca artist Kerwin Dubois allowed him to win the Groovy Soca Monarch competition for this years Carnival season.
So because this was such a popular tune, it wasn’t too hard to find an equally good instrumental like this one:
Now the task after having the instrumental I wanted and now had was to find a song the same or similar in genre such as any form of Reggae. I did not want to use any Caribbean music. So I started looking around at songs I thought would work and nothing was really working until I remembered I Need Your Love.
This is a track that was released by Scottish DJ Calvin Harris on his third studio album 18 Months, which I really liked and featured vocals from singers such as Rihanna, Kelis, and Neyo. I Need Your Love features English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding. This song I knew was of a slow tempo, and fast enough to dance to, that I believed, I could use Goulding’s vocals for the Soca track. So here is the a capella from the original track which I decided to use:
So the next step was to look at some inspiration and to also do a little more research on how to create a Mashup better than I already knew.
This here is a video from this guy Sam Tsui and his band where they did more of a fit together Mashup of rather than the blending of one songs vocals over the instrumentals of a different song. However they managed to make it all sound like it was all one original song. However I remind myself they are musicians and more than likely understand notes, pitches, and keys better than I would.
I came across this article from Digital DJ tips and these given steps which I’ll copy and paste below pretty much helped me in solving my main problems in doing this mashup.
From Digital DJ tips:
Four easy steps to making your first mashup
So here’s how to get going. It probably won’t make you a masterpiece, but it will match the BPMs all up nicely for you, give you an easy way to experiment, and cut out all of the mystery. This should give you the confidence to then take mashup creation further.
- Find a tune that you have an acappella, a full vocal version and an instrumental of – If you haven’t got one, go and look for one. It must all be the same mix – so for instance, an original version, an original instrumental, and then the accapella. (It’s not as good having the instrumental of one remix and the vocal of another.) If you’re just missing the acappella, try the excellent acapellas4u.co.uk
- Set the BPM of the acappella to the same as that of the instrumental version – Unfortunately you can’t just press “sync”, as your DJ software probably won’t be able to guess the BPM of the acappella, as it has no beat. But because you have the instrumental version (and the vocal version), you already know the BPM of the acappella – it’s the same as those two! So manually set its BPM to that
- Recreate the vocal version of the tune by dropping the acappella over the instrumental – This is a step that I’ve included to help you to get used to the process. As you now have an acappella at the right BPM, you can start the instrumental playing on one of your DJ software’s decks, then at the right time, start the acappella playing. (Not sure where it starts? Refer to the vocal version – that’s why we’ve got it.) Now you have effectively the same track as the full vocal version, but composed of a separate vocal and instrumental. Feel free to mess around with your EQs, crossfader, filters etc to “remix” the track on the fly
- Replace the instrumental with a different song’s instrumental – When you’ve had enough of that practice run, stop everything, get the acappella back to the beginning, and on the deck that you have the instrumental loaded on, load the instrumental of a different song. Match its BPM to the BPM of the acappella – hitting “sync” will do it. (You know the BPM of the acappella is correct, because you set it earlier.) Now start the instrumental playing, and wherever you feel it is right to do so (hint: count in eights), start the accapella playing. Use your nudge controls to get it exactly in time if you need to. There you go – your first properly beatsynced mashup!
I knew from the beginning that these two songs weren’t just going to play in synch as easily as the one I did before. So I had to try to understand Mixxx a little better. I found this tutorial video once again from what sounds like a another 15 year old posting a DIY/ How To video but it really helped what I was doing:
With my two songs the beginning worked well together, however while the instrumental basically kept the same pace, the vocals for Ellie Goulding would change pitch range from the verse sounding in synch to the chorus, to the chorus either lagging or jumping ahead of the instrumentals. What was good about Mixxx is that it shows you the sound waves of the tracks. This helped because you could see where there was silence and where vocals were on the track. (I would also advise anyone to remove the vinyl display in Mixxx as well when recording a Mashup since you don’t want to speed up the either track with that tool but rather the pitch bar).
So first I decided to skip the intro for my vocal to match my intro for the instrumental. Since that section of the song wasn’t necessary to work with what I wanted which was to make it sound as legit as possible. So what I did was to skip to the first verse of the vocals and placed a hotcue on the track so that I could cue it in at the right moment, while listening to the instrumental play as shown below:
I had to subsequently do this process two more times in the vocals otherwise the vocals would have just played along and sound horrible together and just not make any sense. So effectively the with the cues I could direct the position bar, while recording the remix and place it at a part of the track, this being an area of the vocal where I could see no singing going on. Then by timing the instrumental, I press the numbered hotcue button, which will pick up play as long as you haven’t stopped the track at the point where exactly where you want the track to restart along with the instrumental. This process involved my before knowledge of both songs and understanding which parts would blend better together to sound as good as possible.
This however, was not an easy task, and my laziness in wanting to have a track on top of the next made it easy and frustrating, at first, but I also didn’t want the final product to sound like no effort went into it. This final product was my 28th attempt, over the course of 3 days. This also happened because I wanted to do the mashup in one recording take. I hope it was not bad listening.