Mash-Ups and Short Attention Spans
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  1. #1
    Tech Convert
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Mash-Ups and Short Attention Spans

    Hello everyone,

    For my second major post, I'd like to discuss mash-ups and audiences seemingly shrinking attention spans. Mash-up mixing, in my opinion, is either really amazing and inspiring or simply God awful. A mash-up is like a Gin and Tonic, if it's made right, IT TASTES INCREDIBLE AND IS THE BEST DRINK ON DA PLANET, but if it's too strong, too weak, or the tonic is flat, it just sucks and I want a beer instead. First, let's discuss why it can amazing. Now I wouldn't call myself a fan of Girl Talk but when I first heard "Night Ripper," and his quick, relentless mash-ups of Smashing Pumpkins, Steve Winwood, and Elton John, I was blown away. Never had I heard mash-ups created in such a way. Ever since then I began to notice more and more DJ's using these kinds of mash-up techniques. I feel that many DJ's on the DJ TechTools website have adopted the mash-up technique especially because of the great trend that is Controllerism. Creating a great mash-up is an incredible feeling and can make an audience go nuts. However, the gripe I have with some mash-up mixing is that it all happens too fast. I'll be groovin' hard to a mash-up DJ when all of a sudden Stardust's "The Music Sounds Better With You" begins to make its glorious entrance. I am PSYCHED and pump my fists to that genius beat. But thirty seconds later, it's gone and I am disappointed that the DJ didn't keep it bumpin' for a little while longer. I feel like this sort of thing happens all too often with mash-up DJing. When I feel like throwin' down a mash-up set at a club, I often will get a lot of praise and a lot of criticism. Half of the room loves the layered songs and fast paced mixing but the other half is bummed cause a lot of their favorite tunes made an appearance but only for a couple of seconds (or were replaced with a different instrumental or acapella).

    So with this style of DJing becoming more popular, does it mean our attentions spans are getting shorter by the day? I mean even outside of DJing, movies like the horrendous (in my opinion) "Crank 2: High Volatge" (no offense to fans of the film by the way) has about 500 cuts in the first five minutes. An older film like "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly," has about 100 cuts in the entire film (total exaggeration but let's just say a exponentially less amount of cuts in the 1967 Sergio Leone flick). Transitions in DJing seem to be getting quicker and quicker, especially in the smaller DJ scenes. Being primarily a trance DJ myself, it's interesting to note that Armin Van Buuren still holds the DJ Mag's top DJ spot in the world. I just saw him perform in Chicago last week and he was mixing pretty traditionally using CDJ's and long, drawn out transitions. As I left the enormous venue, I was really glad that he played whole songs. He played a few mash-ups of trance tunes as well, but I was disappointed once again that he did not play the original tunes from the mash-ups (although the mash-ups were sweet for the most part). Now Armin also does the quick mixing thing with his yearly "A State of Trance Year Mixes" which showcase the best trance songs from a particular year. These mixes are incredible and very well done because Armin tends to put only the climaxes of the trance tunes in the mixes. Now if I heard him do that live last week, I think I would be not as into the set. There is nothing like a long, intense build up to an EPIC CLIMAX at a trance show.

    So to sum up my opinion, when it comes to trance music, I want to hear whole songs. When it comes to something like Girl Talk, I'm down to a certain extent. At least play a minute of a hot jam. My attention span can handle it. A bad mash-up (especially of two already great tunes) makes me want to jam a lead pipe through my ear canals while a great mash-up can lead to an experience much like that of creating and devouring a S'more. What do you guys think and thanks reading if you made it this far.

  2. #2
    Tech Mentor
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Brooklyn NY


    When I spin Hardstyle, I aim to create interesting and engaging transisitions. Its a big no no to mess with the meat of the song, let it ride I say, Ill do little things here and there to spice it up, but thats about it.

    When I spin I house I rock 4 decks and aim to create new "songs". Its a very risky proposition because of the attention span stuff you mentioned. However, house lovers by default have a great attention span and can dig complex layering and wont bitch If I let a compelling combination of tunes ride for a bit.

    In the end you play the right stuff for the right crowd. Got a trance crowd, play trance, got a mash up crowd do a mash up set. Although I could be missing the point of your post entirely.
    Silly DJ loops are for kids!

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