The Mechanics of a Mashup

 Mashups, in spite of what popular culture might have you believe, are not actually new. People have been mashing up and remixing songs for decades now. Thanks to the invention of affordable technology and shows like Glee and movies like Pitch Perfect, more and more people are interested in creating mashups of their very own.

Before you can make a truly great mashup, though, you need to understand how music works. After all, the best blends aren’t the best because of happenstance. They are the result of hard work, research and an intrinsic understanding of chord structures, rhythms, and melodies.

Here’s the good news: this is knowledge that anybody can learn.

The easiest way to learn is through free tutorials online. At the same time, if you want to go beyond the surface level of musical structure and theory, you should take a class from a real person. Your local community center or community college probably has at least a basic music theory class that you can take.

We won’t lie: learning musical theory is going to feel tedious in the beginning.  The basic level of most things feels a little boring. As you keep going, though, and you learn more about how music actually works and is structured—how much math and physics and art are involved, you’ll find the subject much more interesting.

It’s also helpful to know how to play an instrument or two. You don’t have to be skilled at all of them but learning, for example, some basic guitar, piano and drum techniques is truly helpful. It’s okay if you haven’t yet figured out how to buy your first guitar. You can learn which type of guitar fits best for you. It usually depends upon your physical stature as well as your end goal for the instrument. With practice and lessons, you will be able to play using a basic acoustic model. If you’re hoping to perform as well as mix, an electric guitar is probably a better idea.

There are affordable starter kits that are set up specifically for novices like yourself who want to learn the basics. Don’t be surprised, however, if learning the basics makes you excited about going beyond those basics. Playing an instrument is fun! And think of it this way: being able to play the instruments means that you might be able to actually play your mashup live, instead of relying upon technology and recorded audio to make them happen.

As you are learning about musical theory and structure, take the things you are learning and apply them to your mashups. Keep all of your mashups together in a file. Then, every once in awhile go back and listen to your past work. This will accomplish a couple of things: it will show you how far you’ve come and it will help you find inspiration on days when you just don’t know what to make next.

Remember: learning is supposed to be fun! Making music, whether it’s live or electronically, is a wonderful pastime!