Archive 1994 – Dance Explosion 2 (Mix 1 & Mix 2)

To do megamixes with music based on drum machines and a steady beat is one thing, but to do a megamix with for example rock or disco from the 1970’s is something completely different. Before you even start , you have to decide which technique that are to be used. One factor is that the songs are not syncronised to a steady beat. Hence you have to manually match and compare the songs against each other so the bass drums from both the songs align and then followed by making sure the snare drums also plays at the same time, and the songs are repeatedly cut and aligned until the whole mix where the two songs are played at the same time are following each others tempo during the transition between then. Imagine that you have got two measuring tapes where each millimetre represents a bass drum. You now have to place then alongside each other and make sure that each millimetre marking is aligned to the one on the other measuring tape. Suddenly every millimetre on one of the tape are about 1.2 compared to the other but have to match or otherwise it will sound really bad. This is when a pair of scissors are a useful tool and you have to cut away the extra 0.2 millimetres of excess tape to make the measuring tapes align all the way. This is done exactly the same way on a computer with sound waves but the scissors are digital.

If one does not just want to stay with the original song your own drums can be layered on top which creates its own woven fabric on which the songs can be glued and are bound together in a more homogenous soundscape. The downside is that this makes everything sound a lot more static and the character of the rhythm layered on top would be too prominent so the groove and feeling of the original song would not be recognised. It will also be very monotonous when the same rhythm are played all the time. But let us still do that. We could also create our own passages if some songs did not have any naturally scaled down parts.

Next task would be to decide if the songs are to follow the drum machine, or should the drum machine follow the original song’s rough and varying tempo? Regardless of the path you are choosing it will be a monstrous task of manual fiddling. When I set out to mix Dance Explosion 2, which is a collection of 1970’s Disco songs, I chose to let the drum machine follow the varying tempo of the original songs. My thought was that my rhythm should not be too prominent but rather feel like a natural part of the original song but still give that little extra with a bass drum and hi-hats. The task was initiated at home, but it was time to work as a DJ for a whole week in Strömstad, bring the studio over there and work indoors during the days at relatives who lives nearby.

The mix and the songs was arranged in the right order but the job was now merely to get the rest of the studio to play along in the right tempo. I spent a whole working week of about 40 hours to just correct the rhythm pattern. Let’s say that the mix starts at 118.0 BPM but starts to glide apart after 2 seconds. A point was added and the program was told to increase the tempo to be on time for the next beat. First testing with 118.5, but it was slightly too much, tested with 118.2 instead and surely – that sounded better. After a second or so it was out of synchronisation again and this time it was off by a lot so the tempo was decreased to 118.05 and so on. The mixes are 15 minutes in total and could have a list of 2000 points where different tempos was assigned which the program was reading from and following, hence enabling the rest of the studio equipment to follow along. All of a sudden a rhythm could be created that was following the whole mix of songs.

The mix turned out to be rather OK, even if my newly purchased exciter was pushed to the limits resulting in a very bassy and bright treble to the kind of record this really is. Mastring and soundscapes have caught up and when playing the record today it funnily sounds just like any other records today rather than the bass filled mix which you had to compensate for when played on the clubs back then.

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