Thursday, October 11, 2007

Great Moments In Mixtape Transitions

All this mixtape monkey nonsense has got me thinking about, well, mixtapes.

I am gradually sliding into putting the Green Monkey Music Project mixes into heavy rotation. Honestly, I don't necessarily have the whole mix listened to as soon as it's published -- it takes me a while. Don't be surprised if a couple weeks after the mix has been made, I say to you, "Wow, I really like that fourth song on your mix selection!"

Anyways, I was taking the Speed It Up mix for a test drive. I was struck by how much I enjoyed the transition between two songs selected by Tim. The exit from Pixies' "Planet of Sound" into the Police's "Deathwish" was really aesthetically pleasing. "Planet of Sound" is a really in-your-face song. It abruptly ends, and is immediately followed by a nice, laid-back drum intro by Stewart Copeland in "Deathwish". I don't know, it's hard to explain exactly what makes a transition from one song to another work, it just works.

There is an art to crafting a mixtape. The overall flow of mood is a more obvious component of a satisfying mix. I find getting really potent transitions between individual songs as a more elusive art. Sure, you can have a good transition, but a great transition is something that doesn't occur that often. I'd say that normally a mixtape won't even have a great transition -- it's that rare.

I remember a mixtape I made in high school, that went from Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" into Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side". A few months later, I was in the car with a friend of mine who was playing his own mixtape. My friend had used the exact same transition. I took that appropriation of my song order has the highest compliment (he had heard my mix before).

I was wondering about you folks in the business of making mixtapes, have you ever had a great transition, and if so, what was it?


Timothy Donavan Russell said...

Glad you liked that transition of "Planet of Sound" into "Deathwish"! I was more concerned about the latter being faster than the former than the transition, but now that you mention it, I can see how the two songs go nicely together. I can't remember past transitions from mixtapes; I'll have to check the library when I get home tonight.

dguzman said...

I am usually ignorant of such transitions--it's been so long since I made an actual mixtape (cassette) that I don't know if I ever thought about transitions. Obviously, I have much to learn, and I weep and hide with embarassment.

Gaby Hess said...

The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.

I'd like to pretend that I said that, but I didn't. That's the genius of Nick Hornby (High Fidelity).

BeckEye said...

I can't think of any that particularly stand out, but I get very serious about the flow of my mixes. I change the order of my tracks several times before committing, because I can't stand to have songs that don't transition well into each other.

Splotchy said...

tim, looking forward to hearing any transitions you're proud of!

d, a good mix tape transition is often stumbled upon, not necessarily planned out. I'm sure you have done some good ones.

cs, I saw the High Fidelity movie, but I really should read the book. I have read some excerpts of Hornby's writings, and am often thinking "Hell yeah!" in agreement. Thank you for stopping by!

beckeye, I understand your struggle with ordering all too well.

Jenna said...

I once made an LA/London mixtape in honor of the cities I had recently visited. The first song on each side related to the city (or area) it represented and the last song on each side was a band from the area doing a song about the other area to lead into it. The London side was bookended by London Rain by Heather Nova and Going to California By Led Zeppelin, and LA was Drinking in LA by Bran Van 3000 and London by Third Eye Blind. I was so proud of that mix tape. I wonder where it is.

Splotchy said...

gizmorox, that is one nicely executed mix!