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copyright 1999-2004

mix it up the fine art of mix-making
by Amber Mann | 1 2
continued from page 1

getting started
In the movie adaptation of Hornby's High Fidelity, John Cusack's Rob Gordon explains the delicate art of making a mixed tape: "You gotta kick it off with a killer to grab attention. Then you gotta take it up a notch, but you don't want to blow your wad. So then you gotta cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules." There are lots of rules, indeed, but the mix tape is a personal expression. So the best guide to follow is ultimately this: cast away the rules and follow your instincts.

Begin by choosing a theme. On the Art of the Mix website, editors introduce the "Taxonomy of the Mixed Tape." The playlist can be built around an emotion or a season or an artist. But as the site explains, the options are really endless and include everything from the depressed mix, the work out mix, the cooking mix, the shower mix, and the Winter Olympics mix.

To learn about mix-making and see an innumerable number of examples, visit www.tinymixtapes.com and www.artofthemix.com, where mix-makers have submitted thousands of playlists that provided the background music in moments of their lives. And as a mix-making primer, we offer The Valentine's Mix. (For those of you still in need of the perfect gift, now's the time to wake up.) Check out our readers' valentine's day stories!

1. The Postal Service - Brand New Colony
2. Dispatch - Out Loud
3. The Cure - Friday I'm in Love
4. The Darkness - I Believe in a Thing Called Love
5. The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize
6. Led Zeppelin - All My Love
7. Eddie Vedder - You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
8. The Mercury Program - Secret to Quiet
9. Van Morrison - Into the Mystic
10. Mogwai - May Nothing but Happiness Come Through Your Door

o o o

In this age of CDs, mp3s and computer playlists, we've pretty much said farewell to the days of sitting in front of our tape decks and record players, painstakingly trying to craft the perfect arrangement in our heads before making the final commitment to tape. Making the perfect mix has become easier than ever. Some are afraid, though, that the absence of the actual cassette is the certain death for mix-making. "The mix tape has become a mere footnote in the history of human courtship," lamented Michelle Sipics in "The Lost Art of the Mix Tape." Recent articles on Salon.com and in the Washington Post have echoed this sadness about the end of the analog era. But, bidding adieu to the making of mixes just because the medium has changed would be as foolish as giving up letters because we now use email, or abandoning novel writing because Gutenberg made books so easily reproducible.

So embrace your 1980s childhood, and let the art live on.


Amber Mann is a student and writer in Baton Rouge, LA. She will be teaching with Teach for America in the fall. When she's not writing, she is busily trying to create soundtracks of her life.


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