Friday, March 28, 2008

The Art of the Mix Tape and how to waste time on your spring break.

I have been known from time to time to make the infamous mix tape. I have wrote about them before but I felt the need today to talk about the use, formation, and creation of said object of my affection.

The mix tape is used creatively. It sends emotions through song and collaboration to the recipient of said mix. Now I think the use of the word 'tape' sounds a bit misleading since I no longer tape songs off the radio or feel the need to hit both play and record at the same time on my boombox. I like the novelty of the word and will, without feeling guilty, continue to use the word mixTAPE with the full knowledge that I burned MP3s onto a CD from my computer.

I started becoming interested in the development of the mixtape when I obsessively watched the movie High Fidelity. I found a quote that seems highly appropriate:

"To me, making a tape is like writing a letter — there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with "Got to Get You Off My Mind", but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and...oh, there are loads of rules."

And that's right there ARE lots of rules. A good mix starts with a feeling or a purpose. I made another one last night that consisted of the all so common road trip. A good driving mix holds emotion, it can keep you going, it can get you started, it can dictate the drive, it stirs conversation, or it can make you ponder through what is happening in life or the drive. You should never take two songs from the same album or use the artist more than once. You can use the same artist only if it is following a theme like: These are my favorite Iron Maiden songs. Then it would lead you to believe that the mix is full of loud London sounds. The mood is important. The message is important. Sometimes these can be put together. Other times it is one or the other. Choose carefully. Start with one and move to the other if needed.

The most common of the mix is the: "I just started dating you and I want you to know how I feel about you" mix. These are the cute songs that get you excited about life and love, these are the songs that make you smile when you hear them and stare longingly into space because you are thinking of that person. These mixes you find later in life and you smile and they remind you of those soft quiet nights that you spent staying up way to late thinking about the possibilities of what will be and the words of some Death Cab song leads you to believe he/she was the one.

The mix tape (in my mind) needs a clever title that relates the feel of the record. Stealing lyrics from songs on the mix tape are definitely allowed and should be used. Cover art is helpful and brings in the creativity. Receiving a mix tape is an honor and if it is done well can be talked about over low grade vodka and olives on sticks. The overall presentation is important and can seal the deal when presented to the receiver. The mix tape can (and should) be the golden ticket. It reveals a lot of your personality, musical tastes, and hoping that the receiver can decipher the encoded message within.

I will make you a mix if you want me to.

3 comments:

Tricia said...

Amy you make my heart smile, if hearts smile. You know I deeply love your mixtapes and feel so blessed every time I receive one. You bless so many with the time, effort and love that you put into every song.

Thank you for being YOU!

Grant Wahlquist said...

The mixtape you made for me on my birthday is still one of my favorite presents I have ever received.

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