A great way to both make your covers stand out and put your own unique twist on well-known songs is to arrange your own mashups. Here’s how to make sure your mashups will sound awesome:
1. Compatible keys
Whether you’re choosing to mix only two songs or even an entire album, the best way to make sure the combination flows smoothly is to choose songs with compatible keys. This can be relative majors and minors (e.g. C major with A minor), or simply similar-sounding matches by ear.
Choosing songs with compatible sounds makes the entire process much quicker and easier. If you want to combine two songs with different keys, just transpose whichever one you like to better match the other song.
Glee is known for its flawless mashups. A good place to look for inspiration is the show’s soundtrack. Here’s a great mashup of Beyonce’s “Halo” and Katrina & The Waves’ “Walking On Sunshine.”
2. Smooth transitions
The key to smooth transitions is the above: similar key signatures. When songs have relative keys, the mashup just flows a lot smoother, and nothing about the remix sounds awkward. When you have songs with similar sounds, you’ll find that you can pretty much arrange the song however you want for smooth transitions.
This process is almost entirely trial and error. Play around with the arrangements, placing segments of one song with the chorus or verse of the other, and see what works best. Close your eyes and listen; whichever one sounds the most effortless and not choppy or awkward is the right arrangement. Oftentimes, this mashup will sound like it’s an original song.
An easy way to transpose is to use the guitar. In the following Backstreet Boys medley, smooth and effortless transitions make the mashup sound so natural and well-arranged.
3. Similar lyrics
The music is very important when it comes to mashups. However, the lyrics are just as important. How strange would it be to hear happy lyrics come right after sad lyrics? Conflicting lyrics will distract the listener and make the song sound more awkward than it really is.
So, lyrics and overall song concept/theme are huge factors in choosing songs to combine. The lyrics don’t have to sound exactly like sisters, but just make sure they’re not irrelevant or conflicting.
Here’s a great mashup of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” and Usher’s “Confessions”:
It may seem a daunting challenge at first, but arranging your own mashup is not as hard as it seems. As long as you carefully work through the above three steps, your mashup is going to sound smooth and effortless.
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Angelina Hue enjoys listening to wide variety of music, from instrumental movie scores to alternative indie to Korean pop music. She also likes to make short films and write fiction.