Creativity: Tips to make your mashup unique

Tutorials to help you get the best out of your mixing progies. Please feel free to ask any mixing/editing/production problem questions here.
User avatar
Moderator
Posts: 1842
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:36 am
Location: Scotland

Creativity: Tips to make your mashup unique

Post Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:21 am

Tips to make your mashups unique and creative

I'm seeing lots of submissions where folk are producing mashup after mashup of the instrumental + acapella recipe. Fair enough, mashups are loved for combining two sources to make one recycled combination which is awesome - nothing wrong with this. However, there is something really satisfying about doing extra to put your own stamp on something - plus it can be seen as more creative and special. So that's why I've created this thread; a thread (hopefully) full of tips to make your mashup unique & add in that little bit extra.

If you've ever gotten the dreaded "this mashup is technically solid but just misses that x-factor, it's noting special", then this is the thread for you!



So, this is a community thread - please everyone chip in your own tips on how to add that little bit extra to a mashup :1cool:

User avatar
Moderator
Posts: 1842
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:36 am
Location: Scotland

Re: Creativity: Tips to make your mashup unique

Post Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:23 am

This one is particularly effective with dance/club mashups:

Add an additional instrumental track, such as perhaps the instrumental of the vocal track, on top of your main one during the drop/chorus with a high-pass filter added to remove the bass.

Result is an effect such as: this, this or this

User avatar
Moderator
Posts: 1842
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:36 am
Location: Scotland

Re: Creativity: Tips to make your mashup unique

Post Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:37 am

Making a mashup with a popular EDM instrumental?

> Look on google for a midi of the track.
> Import this midi into your DAW.
> Line it up to match the instrumental - just the drop works but you could also do the whole track
> Add a virtual instrument/VST* to one of the midi tracks (usually the main melody but could also do the bass or whatever really), play around until you find one that sounds good
> EQ it to make sure it doesn't take over any of the main frequencies (usually putting a high-pass filter is the best bet to make sure it doesn't clash with the bass)
> BAM - you have a bootleg.

For example: https://hearthis.at/djfirth/koala-got-l ... h-bootleg/


Sure, this doesn't do too much to make it better but it makes it unique and gives you a chance to add to the instrumental and really make it your version, your track, a bit like a remix. It feels great cause you really have the feeling like you've fairly significantly changed the track and if people enjoy it then they're enjoying something you've added to beyond that of just adding a vocal track :1smiley:



*if you don't any then download one, NI Massive of Sylenth1 are great.

User avatar
Moderator
Posts: 1397
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:18 pm
Location: California

Re: Creativity: Tips to make your mashup unique

Post Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:25 am

A couple of things I've done that set my mashups apart:

If you are able to get your hands on full multitracks of one or both songs you have a much larger palette of colors to work with, and a couple of fun things to try:
  • Rather than just laying a vocal on top of an instrumental, sprinkle in instrument stems from the song whose vocal you're using (guitar/keyboard/saxophone solos, brass sections, drum fills.) This doesn't always work, depending on how similar the chord progressions of the songs are, but there is often a spot or three where something will fit and add some color to the track.
  • Use the multitracks to create a unique intro or outro to the song. Sometimes an epic build up at the beginning will get the listener exciting about hearing the rest of the track. As far as outros go, there are so many other ways you can go than fading out (lame!) Use your imagination!
  • You can do the same thing to transitions within the song. Some instrumentals are so dang repetitive that even an energetic vocal track can't save them. Things like slowdowns or stops in the instrumental, a cappella breaks, dropping the drums (or everything but the drums) out, borrowing a drum fill from the other song(as mentioned above) or reverse-reverb'ing in the next section in, can add some excitement to a yawner of an instrumental.
  • If you have a vocal track from the song whose instrumental you're using, sprinkle vocal stems into your track. Look for lyrical links between the two songs and, if possible, create a "conversation" between vocalists. For reference, listen to almost any of YITT's works--he might have some tips to chime in with about this too.

Even without full multitracks there are a lot of creative avenues you can take:
  • Try some rhythmic variation. This could apply to instrument stems as well, but I think most of us can add a lot to our acapellas by stretching and cutting them to match the syncopation or rhythmic accents of the instrumental, or repeating them in an interesting, off-beat way. Don't desecrate the acapella to the point where it is a different song, but add some flair.
  • Play with effects to make the vocals match the tone or mood of the instrumental. Reverb is an obvious one, but a better example would be to put some overdrive/distortion on vocals used over a Muse instrumental, as many Muse songs use a similar effect on Matt Bellamy's vocals.

This is the gist of what I've done. There are a lot of other musical ideas I'd have a hard time explaining concisely, but this oughta give you all some ideas...

User avatar
Moderator
Posts: 2053
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:35 am
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Re: Creativity: Tips to make your mashup unique

Post Thu Feb 04, 2016 2:03 pm

DJ Firth wrote:I'm seeing lots of submissions where folk are producing mashup after mashup of the instrumental + acapella recipe.

Even if you do go this route, you can still set yourself apart. The most obvious way I do this is to actively look for instrumentals which most people wouldn't think about mashing up, like chamber music and jazz. Mind you, I sometimes break my own rule when I use theme songs from TV shows and movies.

You can also stand out by sampling things like audiobooks, movie dialogue and YouTube videos. For example, when I made "Everybody Wants Something" in 2014, I originally planned to juggle Tears For Fears' vocals with those of A Great Big World. However, I remembered a scene from Dr. No where the titular character has dinner with James Bond. The dialogue from that scene helped me fill in a lot of dead air and run with the title of Tears For Fears' song, "Everybody Wants To Rule The World."

In any event, I avoid Low-Hanging Fruit like The Plague. You couldn't pay me enough to mash two songs which sound like each other; it'd be high treason if I made a "What's The Point" mashup.
Deputy Commissioner, Mashstix Harmony Police
Blog | Facebook

User avatar
Moderator
Posts: 2675
Joined: Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:18 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Re: Creativity: Tips to make your mashup unique

Post Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:08 pm

Expand your music knowledge. The more songs you know the more resources you'll have.

User avatar
Moderator
Posts: 762
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:53 pm
Location: california bay area, usa

Re: Creativity: Tips to make your mashup unique

Post Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:52 am

Spoken dialogue is an awesome way to fill empty song space and really add creativity and set a mood. I added some dialogue of an old educational movie about dreaming in 'Dreaming My Revenge' which really helped form its retro vibe. I even had my little cousin record the spoken intro to 'See You On The Outside' for me. The sky is the limit on what dialogue you can add to give your song some flair. And you can even edit the dialogue very easily to make it flow with the song, timing wise.

Even little effects to vocals sung can make a huge difference in making something sound fresh and slick.

Besides well placed echo effects, a really cool little thing I've done a few times is a stutter effect in sung vocals. If you take, say, Ellie Goulding, singing "now I'm on the outside", and snip up the part where she says "outside", it creates a smooth, tech sound, making her sing "now I'm on the outsi-i-i-ide".
I am here, and so are you. We can be together at other places, too
Soundcloud
YouTube
Sowndhaus
Facebook

Return to Mixing Tuts and Stix Support Center

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests