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Remix

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Remix

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A remix is an alternate mix of a song different from the original version, made using the techniques of audio editing. It may incorporate elements of dance music. It is often used to create an upbeat version of a song for playing by disc jockeys in nightclubs. Normally it is based on a musical theme of the original song, but often introduces new themes, adding complexity, though some follow the opposite path by removing many elements, leaving a piece that is stripped down and simplified.

Roots of the remix

Since the beginnings of recorded sound in the late 19th century, certain people have enjoyed the ability to rearrange the normal listening experience with technology. With the advent of easily editable magnetic tape in the 1940s and 1950s, such alterations became more common. In those decades the experimental genre of musique concrète used tape loops of music and environmental sounds to create sound compositions that were the forerunners of electronic music. Less artistically lofty edits produced medleys or novelty recordings of various types.

Modern remixing had its roots in the dance hall culture of late-1960s/early-1970s Jamaica. The fluid evolution of music that encompassed ska, rocksteady, reggae and dub was embraced by local mixing wizards who deconstructed and rebuilt tracks to suit the tastes of their audience. In particular, producers and DJs like Ruddy Redwood, King Tubby and Scientist, and Lee "Scratch" Perry popularized stripped-down instrumental mixes (which they called "versions") of ska tunes using simple four-track mixing machines. At first they simply dropped the vocal tracks, but soon more sophisticated effects were created, dropping separate instrumental tracks in and out of the mix, isolating and repeating hooks, and adding echo effects.

At the same time, DJs in New York City were performing similar tricks with disco songs (using loops and tape edits) to get dancers on the floor and keep them there. Tom Moulton invented the 12-inch single vinyl format to allow for punchier sound and greater length. Walter Gibbons remixed the first commercial 12-inch single ("10 Percent", by Double Exposure), and one of the most successful early American remixes, "Doin' the Best That I Can" by Betty Lavette.

In the mid-1970s, the Jamaican and Bronx remix cultures met, energizing both. Key figures included Kool DJ Herc and DJ Grandmaster Flash. Cutting (alternating between duplicate copies of the same record) and scratching (manually moving the vinyl record beneath the turntable needle) became part of the culture, creating what Slate magazine called "real-time, live-action collage". One of the first mainstream successes of this style of remix was the 1983 track "Rockit" by Herbie Hancock, as remixed by Grand Mixer D.ST.

Remix Services

With the proliferation of 12" singles, many of which were not friendly to beatmix with, DJ's started to laboriously edit songs by splicing reel-to-reel tape, making their own exclusive versions. Beginning in 1977 with Disconet, the remix service was born. These companies gathered DJs and producers together to create monthly subscription only compilation albums containing re-edits, remixes, or medleys to give DJ's an advantage. Over the years the mixes have varied from simple edits, adding a mixable intro and outro to a song, to full fledged digital multi-track remixes that barely resemble the original track. Some remix services have focused on a specific style of music (say hip-hop or rock) or type of remix (such as house mixes of pop hits). As of 2005 there have been over 50 official remix services worldwide with at least as many spinoffs, although most of these companies (including Disconet) have long since folded due to financial or legal reasons. All remix services are required to get the original record label or artists permission to edit and release a track, but many bootleg services exist that do not (On-USound, Go Girl!, Blank, Select Mix).

As most of these companies required a DJ subscription agreement to buy the records or CD's and each issue is usually limited in quantity from 100 to several thousand, many of these compilations have become sought after collectors items. Once in awhile a remix service version of a song is released commercially by the artist's record label, hence the occasional Ultimix on an CD or CD single, but 99% of remix service mixes are sold only to DJ's on the compilations.

Some of these companies helped launch the careers of well known remixers/producers. Chris Cox (formerly of Thunderpuss) worked for Hot Tracks, Armand Van Helden did mixes for Mega-Mixx and X-Mix, and Ben Liebrand did tons of work for DMC. A few companies have also developed their own commercial record labels to release new tracks. It should also be noted that the UK based DMC remix service probably has the most members in the world, with offices in nearly every country, and that they sponsor the yearly World DJ Championships as well as releasing many commercial compilations.

Some of the better known remix services (all US based unless stated):

  • Ace DJ -- Australia, closed
  • Art Of Mix -- closed
  • Disconet -- closed
  • Discotech -- closed
  • DMC (Disco Mix Club) -- UK, 1983 to present
  • Future Mix -- closed
  • Hot Tracks and spinoffs (Street Tracks, NRG for the 90's, Roadkill, Hot Classics, etc)-- 1982 to present
  • M -- closed
  • Mixx-It -- closed
  • Method Mix -- (Method Mix, Country Rhythm) 2000 to present
  • Monster Mix -- closed
  • Music Factory Mastermix -- UK, 1985 to present
  • Powerhouse -- closed
  • Prime Cuts -- closed
  • Razormaid and many spinoffs -- 1983 to present
  • Remixed Records -- Sweden, mid 80's to present
  • Remixmydemo.com -- Online, present
  • Rock N Beat -- closed
  • Rhythm Stick -- closed
  • Turbo Beat -- closed
  • Ultimix and spinoffs (Funkymix, Looking Back, Rampage) -- 1985 to present
  • X-Mix and spinoffs (X-Mix Urban, Club Classics, etc) -- early 90's to present

Megamixes

A megamix is a remix containing multiple songs, often in rapid succession. They can consist of single artist megamixes (just Madonna songs, etc) or multiple artists. Some may follow a theme as well (Christmas, only songs that have "queen" in the title, only David Morales mixes, etc). Often megamixes are also called medleys.

Ultimix is the most well-known for these, producing several megamixes every year based on popular songs of the year ("flashback medleys") as well as some single artists megamixes. The UK based DMC and Music Factory Mastermix remix services also do a lot of megamixes.

Megamixes are also commonly found on commercial releases, sometimes using the same mix previously released to DJ's on a remix service. Duran Duran even created a "megamix" single called "Burning The Ground" using snippets from their own hits for the 1990 greatest-hits album Decade: Greatest Hits.

Pop and dance music

Early pop remixes were fairly simple; in the 1980s, "extended mixes" of songs were released to clubs and commercial outlets on 12-inch vinyl singles. These typically had a duration of 6 to 7 minutes, and often consisted of the original song with 8 or 16 bars of instruments inserted, often after the second chorus; some were as simplistic as two copies of the song stitched end to end. As the cost and availability of new technologies allowed, many of the bands who were involved in their own production (such as Depeche Mode and Duran Duran) experimented with more intricate versions of the extended mix. Madonna began her career writing music for dance clubs and used remixes extensively to propel her career; one of her early boyfriends was noted DJ John Jellybean Benitez, who created several memorable mixes of her work. The Art of Noise took the remix styles to an extreme -- creating new music entirely using samples.

After the rise of dance music in the late 1980s, a new form of remix was popularised, where the vocals would be kept and the instruments would be replaced, often with matching backing in the house music or Hi-NRG idiom. The art of the remix gradually evolved, and soon avant-garde artists such as Aphex Twin were creating more experimental remixes of songs, which varied radically from their original sound and yet were not guided by pragmatic considerations such as sales or danceability.

In the 1990s, with the rise of powerful home computers with audio capabilities came the mash-up, an unsolicited, unofficial (and often legally dubious) remix created by editing two or more recordings (often of wildly different songs) together. This method is more difficult to work with, because clean copies of separated tracks such as vocals or individual instruments are usually not available to the public. Some artists (such as Björk and Public Enemy) embraced this trend and outspokenly sanctioned fan remixing of their work; there was once a web site which hosted dozens of unofficial remixes of Björk's songs, all made using only various officially-sanctioned mixes.

Also in the early 1990s, Mariah Carey became one of the first mainstream artists who re-recorded vocals for a remix, and by 1993 most of her major dance and urban remixes had been re-sung, e.g. Dreamlover as remixed by David Morales for the clubs. This trend would be the norm up to the 2000s, as many major artist would contribute new vocals for the different versions of their songs. Carey also spearheaded the norm of including guest appearances on her urban remixes.

Industrial music

Remixing has become very prevalent in heavily synthesized electronic and experimental music circles. Many of the people who create cutting edge music in such genres as darkwave, synthpop, elektro, and EBM are solo artists or pairs. They will often use remixers to help them with skills or equipment that they do not have. Artists such as Delobbo and DJ Ram are sought out for their remixing skill and have impressive lists of collaborations, yet no solo albums. It is not uncommon for industrial bands to release albums which have half the songs as remixes. Indeed, there have been popular singles that have been expanded to an entire album of remixes by other well-known artists.

Some industrial groups allow, and oftentime, encourage their fans to remix their music, notably Nine Inch Nails, whose website contains a list of downloadable songs that can be remixed using Apple Computer's GarageBand software.

Hip-hop and rap

In addition to dance remixes, many R&B, pop, and rap artists use remixes and alternate versions of songs with "featured" guest stars, in order to give them new life, or to make them a hit if they're failing.

On January 5, 2002, J To Tha L-O! by Jennifer Lopez became the first remix album to debut at the #1 spot on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart.

Influential 1990s and 2000s Remix Producers (Remixers)

AMX
Axwell
9th Wonder (hip-hop, motown, Jazz)
Above & Beyond
Almighty
ATB
Armand Van Helden
AtJazz
Basement Boys
Bini & Martini
The Blue Panther
BT
Chemical Brothers
Coldcut
D-Code
M.J. Cole
Daft Punk
Dan-O-Rama (influential producer of music video remixes)
Dave Jonsen (primarily in the underground hip-hop genre)
David Morales
DJ Scoop
DJ Screw
DJ MadMethod
DJ Tiësto
DJ Yeager (aka Ryan Yeager)
Eiffel 65
Sascha Konietzko
Eric Kupper
Boris Dlugosch
Fatboy Slim
Full Intention
François Kevorkian
Hex Hector
Jay Dee (aka J Dilla) (Hip-Hop and soul)
Mousse T.
Joey Negro
Junior Vasquez
Madlib (Jazz, Funk, Hip-Hop)
Masters At Work
Maurice Joshua
The Neptunes
Pete Rock (primarliy in the hiphop genre)
Roger Sanchez
Shep Pettibone
Spen & Karizma
Stonebridge
The Trackmasters
Thunderpuss
Timbaland
Victor Calderone

Examples of Popular Hip-Hop and R&B Remixes

Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full - remixed by Coldcut (In the history of Hip-Hop Remix, THE Classic)
Beyonce - "Naughty Girl" (featuring Lil' Flip)
Busta Rhymes - "Make It Clap" (featuring Sean Paul)
Busta Rhymes - "Pass The Courvoissier" (Part II) (featuring P. Diddy and Pharrell)
Busta rhymes - "Touch It" (featuring Mary J. Blige, Rah Digga, and Missy Elliott)
Chingy - "Right Thurr" (featuring Trina and Jermaine Dupri)
Craig Mack- "Flava in ya Ear" (featuring Notorious B.I.G, Rampage, LL Cool J,& Busta Rhymes)
Destiny's Child - "Bootylicious" (featuring Missy Elliott & Timbaland)
Destiny's Child - "Survivor" (featuring Da Brat)
Jennifer Lopez - "Ain't It Funny" (featuring Ja Rule)
Jennifer Lopez - "Baby I Luv U" (featuring R. Kelly)
Jennifer Lopez - "I'm Real" (featuring Ja Rule)
Jessica Simpson - "Irresistible" (featuring Lil' Bow Wow)
Joe - "Stutter" (featuring Mystikal)
Lil' Jon & the Eastside Boyz - "Get Low" (featuring Busta Rhymes & Elephant Man)
Lil Kim - "Not Tonight (Ladies Night)" (featuring Angie Martinez, Da Brat, Left Eye, and Missy Elliott)
Mariah Carey - "Fantasy" (featuring ODB)
Mariah Carey - "Heartbreaker" (featuring Da Brat & Missy Elliott)
Mariah Carey - "Honey" (featuring P. Diddy, Mase, & The Lox)
Mariah Carey - "Thank God I Found You/Make It Last Forever" (featuring Joe & Nas)
Mariah Carey - "We Belong Together" (featuring Jadakiss & Styles P)
Michael Jackson - "Butterflies" (featuring Eve)
Missy Elliott- "Get Ur Freak On" (featuring Nelly Furtado)
Notorious B.I.G. - "One More Chance" (featuring P. Diddy, Total, Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans)
R. Kelly - "Fiesta" (featuring Jay-Z)

Beyonce's "Naughty Girl" is the newest on the list. As it's currently receiving heavy radio play, urban stations favor the remix while pop and dance stations favor the original, Lil' Flip-less version. The rest of the songs received more radio play in their remixed form than in the original. The most obvious example of this is in "I'm Real" and "Ain't It Funny"; both songs only managed very minor success, and only on mainstream radio stations, in their original forms. Once the remixes were released, the songs both fared extremely well not only on mainstream radio but also on rhythmic and urban contemporary stations. Each song became a multiple-week number one at radio, based almost entirely on the strength of its remix. The videos for the original versions of "I'm Real" and "Ain't It Funny" each briefly registered on MTV and VH1 in America. But the remix videos brought them into heavy rotation on MTV, as well as major play on MTV2, BET, and MTV Jams.

There is no music video for the original versions of "Fiesta", "Not Tonight", "One More Chance", or "Pass The Courvoissier". On the other hand, no video exists for the remix versions of "Baby I Luv U" or "Naughty Girl". No video exists for "Butterflies" at all. However, all other listed songs have videos for both their original and remix versions.

Examples of Popular Dance Remixes

Amber - "Sexual (Lidadi)" Thunderpuss 2000 Club Mix]
Deborah Cox - "I Never Knew"
Deborah Cox - "Nobody's Supposed To Be Here"
Deborah Cox - "It's Over Now"
Deborah Cox - "Something Happened On The Way To Heaven"
Deborah Cox - "Things Just Ain't The Same"
Dalida - "Salma Ya Salama"
DNA - "Tom's Diner" (featuring Suzanne Vega)
Enrique Iglesias - "Hero"
Everything but the Girl - "Missing"
Jennifer Lopez - "Waiting For Tonight" [ Hex Hector Remix]
Madonna - "Beautiful Stranger" [ Victor CalderoneClub Mix]
Madonna - "Deeper & Deeper" [ David Morales Klub Mix]*
Madonna - "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" [Miami Mix]
Madonna - "Express Yourself" [ Shep Pettibone Non-stop Express Mix]**Madonna - "Frozen" [ Extended Club Mix]
Madonna - "Holiday" [ Stardust Music Sounds Better With Holiday Mix]
Madonna - "Hung Up" [ Extended Vocal Mix Mix]
Madonna - "Like A Prayer" [ 12" Dance Mix AKA Shep Pettibone's Club Mix Mix]
Madonna - "Music" [ HQ2 Club Mix]
Madonna - "Ray Of Light" [ Calderone Club Mix]
Madonna - "Secret" [ Junior Vasquez Luscious Club Mix]
Madonna - "What It Feels Like For A Girl" [ Above & Beyond Mix]
Michael Jackson - "HIStory" [Tony Moran HIStory Lesson Mix]
Tamia - "Stranger In My House" [ Thunderpuss Mix]
Toni Braxton - "Unbreak My Heart" (Hex-Soul Anthem)
Whitney Houston - "It's Not Right, But It's OK" [ Thunderpuss Mix]
Whitney Houston - "My Love Is Your Love" [ Jonathan Peters Mix]

Most of the above hip-hop and dance remixes received far more radio airplay than their original versions did. All of the rap remixes that have music videos outperformed the original videos (if they existed at all) on MTV, MTV2, and BET. Several of the dance remixes that had videos also performed as well if not better than their original versions, especially on MTV2, which has had dance-themed programs and video blocks. The video remix for "Missing" was the one most often seen, even on MTV and VH1, since it was the version most often heard on the radio. The remixes of "Hero" and "Waiting For Tonight" got substantial play on MTV2's dance-themed programs, whereas their original videos did not receive much play from the channel. Even regular MTV gave both remix videos about equal attention as their originals, which were more successful at radio. VH1 stuck with the original, pop versions of both. The "Southside" and "What It Feels Like For A Girl" videos were released only in remixed form. On the other hand, "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" exist as video only in its slower, original form, even despite the fact that the song's dance remix far outperformed its originals on American radio. "I Never Knew" and "Something Happened On The Way To Heaven" do not have music videos in any version. "Tom's Diner" has videos in both versions, but neither received substantial play.

Most of the above hip-hop remixes arose either from the need for a poppy R&B singer to add more of an urban, rap edge to one of their slower R&B songs, or from the need for a rapper to gain more pop appeal by getting an R&B singer to sing some lines here and there. When a song by a solo artist does not take off, the hip-hop crowd understands that the majority of successful hip-hop songs include a combination of rapping and singing, usually being done by at least two different artists. So, when a song by a solo artist, whether a popular rapper or a singer, fails to catch on, the remix is usually relied on to give the song a second chance.

In the case of the above dance remixes, many are slow ballads and R&B songs that were remixed by techno producers and DJ's in order to give the song appeal to the club scene and to rhythmic radio. Up-tempo, dance-oriented songs tend to perform better than slow songs on mainstream American radio as well.

So, whether a slower R&B song is remixed as a dance song or a hip-hop song (or, as in the case of Mariah Carey's "I Still Believe", both), it usually increases the song's chances for success on not just one but usually on multiple radio formats and with multiple audiences.

Madonna Remains The Most Succesful Dance Artist Of All Time with an unprecedented 36 (and going full-speed ahead for more) #1 Dance hits which is more than double than the runner up (Janet Jackson) who has 16.

Broader context

In a larger sense, remixing can be seen as a major conceptual leap: making music on a meta-structural level, drawing together and making sense of a much larger body of information by threading a continuous narrative through it. This is what begins to emerge very early in the hiphop tradition in works such as Grandmaster Flash's pioneering mix recording Adventures on the Wheels of Steel. The importance of this cannot be overstated: in an era of information overload, the art of remixing and sampling as practiced by hiphop DJs and producers points to ways of working with information on higher levels of organization, pulling together the efforts of others into a multilayered multireferential whole which is much more than the sum of its parts.

A remix may also refer to a non-linear re-interpretation of a given work or media other than audio. Such as a hybridizing process combining fragments of various works. The process of combining and re-contextualizing will often produce unique results independent of the intentions and vision of the original designer/artist. Thus the concept of a remix can be applied to visual or video arts, and even things farther afield. The disjointed novel House of Leaves has been compared by some to the remix concept.

In recent years the concept of the remix has been applied analogously to other media and products. In 2000, the British Channel 4 television program Jaaaaam was produced as a remix of the sketches from the comedy show Jam. In 2003 the Coca-Cola Corporation released a new version of their soft drink Sprite with tropical flavors under the name Sprite Remix. In 2004, the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference took Remix as its theme, and used it to provide context for the software phenomenon now more widely known as mashups.

Underground remixers

"Underground remixers" are a group of people born mostly in the information age; as opposed to an officially sanctioned remix done with the permission of artist/label by a professional, underground remixers do less-professional mixes that are distributed freely on the internet. For example doing a search in most filesharing programs for DJ Yeager (a popular underground remixer), or DJ River, will return dozens to hundreds of remixes of popular songs.

Opinion

Opinion of remixes vary. Some people support these songs, for clubbing music and dance music, making them often faster and longer, thus more fun to dance to. Others oppose them, saying it removes the spirit of the original that the artist worked so hard to achieve.

References


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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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