Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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.
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 into 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 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 Grandmaster DST .
Beginning in 1977 with Disconet , remix services began to appear, which hired talented DJs to laboriously remix songs from reel-to-reel tape, which were then sold on compilation albums or released as singles. Many of these releases had very limited distribution, and have become sought-after collector's items.
- Almighty Associates
- DMC Publishing
- Hot Tracks
- Metro Productions
- Ultimix /Funkymix (hip-hop)
- X Mix
A megamix is a remix containing multiple songs in rapid succession. Ultimix is the most well-known for these, producing at least one or two every year based on popular songs of the year. Each "flashback medley" is about 15 minutes long, usually with at least that many songs if not more. The "artist megamix" is also popular, with some of the more popular ones (Madonna, Michael Jackson, Pet Shop Boys) having more than one, usually from different remix companies. Duran Duran created a megamix single from their own hits for the 1990 greatest-hits album Decade.
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.
Remixing has become very prevalent in heavily synthesized electronic and experimental music cirles. 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.
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)
- Above And Beyond
- Basement Boys
- Bini & Martini
- Victor Calderone
- M.J. Cole
- Dan-O-Rama (influential producer of music video remixes)
- DJ Tiesto
- Boris Dlugosch
- Fatboy Slim
- Full Intention
- Hex Hector
- Masters At Work
- Maurice Joshua
- François Kevorkian
- Eric Kupper
- David Morales
- Mousse T.
- Joey Negro
- The Neptunes
- Shep Pettibone
- Roger Sanchez
- Spen & Karizma
- Armand Van Helden
- Junior Vasquez
Examples of Popular Hip-Hop and R&B Remixes
- 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)
- Chingy - "Right Thurr" (featuring Trina and Jermaine Dupri)
- 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 Kim - "Not Tonight (Ladies Night)" (featuring Angie Martinez, Da Brat, Left Eye, and Missy Elliott)
- 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)
- Michael Jackson - "Butterflies" (featuring Eve)
- 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 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
- 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"
- Enrique Iglesias - "Hero"
- Everything But The Girl - "Missing"
- Jennifer Lopez - "Waiting For Tonight" [ Hex Hector Remix]
- Madonna - "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" [Miami Mix]
- Madonna - "What It Feels Like For A Girl" [ Above & Beyond Mix]
- Moby - "Southside" (featuring Gwen Stefani)
- Tamia - "Stranger In My House" [ Thunderpuss Mix]
- Toni Braxton - "Unbreak My Heart"
- Whitney Houston - "It's Not Right, But It's OK" [ Thunderpuss Mix]
- Whitney Houston - "My Love Is Your Love" [ Thunderpuss 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, "Stranger In My House" and "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" exist as videos only in their slower, original forms, even despite the fact that both songs' dance remixes far outperformed their originals on American radio. "I Never Knew" and "Something Happened On The Way To Heaven" do not have music videos in any version.
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.
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 .
"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.
- Postdigital Remix Culture and Online Performance - exhibition at University of California at Riverside
- "The Remixmasters", Slate (July 29, 2002)
- Remix Services - Past & Present
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