History:Remix Means Different Things

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This page deals with the issue what "remix" means and how this can be described with AdvancedRelationships, while the similar page VersusMeansDifferentThings is more related to StyleGuidelines.

Tentative Summary

It seems that there are a couple of roles that should all be represented with AdvancedRelationships. The definitions seem to be:

  • The Mix-Engineer has nothing to do with remixing, but is involved in the normal produciton of a release. He is the person who compiles the audio streams recorded by the recoding engineer down to one stereo audio track. More precisely he mixes freshly recorded audio streams together, that were never mixed together before.
  • A Compiler is someone who compiles a "mix tape" (or CD or whatever). For sake of clarity I define that a compiler does not change the audio material. He just takes tracks and puts them in a sequence. Period. This might also be called a "selector".
  • Once some slight change of the audio material is involved, I would call the person a Mix-DJ. Mix-DJs usually changes the audio by
    • pitching (so that the tempo of one track matches the tempo of the following track) and
    • fading (so that one track blends in smoothly with the other).

Mix-DJs do, however, not have the original single audiostreams that the mix engineer dealt with. They only deal with the completely mix-engineered tracks.

  • A Re-Mixer alters the audio material even more than the Mix-DJ.
    • He either uses the same audio streams that the mix-engineer had (I think Kruder & Dorfmeister work this way),
    • or he takes snippets from the original track and puts them in a loop, adds snippets of his own, etc... In other words he samples (I think Propellerheads, St. Germain etc work this way).

Then there is the issue of Mash-ups. The question is how many different songs the re-mixer takes audio material from.

  • If he takes the material from one song only (and maybe adds some stuff of his own), the result can be called a proper re-mix of a song.
  • If he takes samples from two (or a few more) songs and uses them to make something that has an explicit reference to the original songs, this is called a mash-up. Often the two songs are referred to in the versus fashion (but be careful: not all songs using 'versus' in the track name or artist name are mash-ups, since VersusMeansDifferentThings).
  • If he takes samples from all over the place and does not put an emphasis on the sources but on the new track (e.g. "History repeating" by the Propellerheads uses samples from some famous song I forgot which but the emphasis is on the new song), this is called... what? A sampling? Or an "improper re-mix"????
  • There's no particular name for this, it's simply an original track that uses samples as instruments. --MatthewExon
    • Exactly. e.g. "Rise" by Gabrielle uses a sample from Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" as a loop. --Zout

Since AdvancedRelationshipTypes have a hierarchical structure this can be represented in a tree:

ReleaseArtistRelationships or ArtistTrackRelationships:

  • Production
    • ...
    • Mix eingineer
    • ...
  • Remixes
    • Compiler
    • Mix-DJ
    • Remixer

TrackTrackRelationships (or ReleaseTrackRelationships and ReleaseReleaseRelationships where applicable):

Excellent. There are still some grey areas, but I think Mix-DJ covers them well enough. Turntablist DJs often do live, one-off sampling, scratching, and mashing, which is more than mixing but less than proper remixing. Perhaps the Mix-DJ definition should focus more on scope than technique. The remixer works with a single track whereas the Mix-DJ is concerned with the entire release. --cd21





Original Discussion

The problem is that the Remix Relationship Class does not reflect well what people mean when they say "mix" "remix". The following is extracted from a post by mo:


Stating that I know nothing about Mixes or remixes. I don't listen to that kind of music nor do I own any remix type music at all. (actually I'm lying, I do own one remix song... its an mp3 I got offa kazaa, just so I could tag it to musicbrainz, heh yes I am that much a Musicbrains addict) men nok om det.

When even a person like me (who knows very little about it) can see the need for a separated "mixed by" type relationship, I think we can say that its needed.

The way I understand it there is

  • A Mix Engineer
  • A Mixer
  • A Remixer
  • Possibly further complications

A Mix Engineer

A mix engineer is someone who mixes the different instruments and vocals and stuff together on a record. everyone has one of these, even rockstar bands. They are responsible for funky timing stuff and duplicated vocals. For example, at the Judas Priest Concert I went to, there was a mix engineer type dude sitting in a cubicle in the middle of the crowd on the floor, making sure Halford's Vocals where spaced out the way they should be. etc. --mo


I believe you have this right down to (not including) the example. What you're describing is a PA-technician/engineer, where PA stands for Public Anouncement, ie. the big sound system used for lots of people to listen to (concerts, theatre performances, etc.), as opposed to the system (and the engineer) used to record stuff to some medium. It's the latter which (I believe) is your mix engineer. This is the guy who records the band, and s/he has parts in the responibility for how the original version of the song sounds like. Not at all related to remixing though. //bnw 

Or even better, not use the work "mixed by" at all. I would prefer to always have a discriminator to the workd "mixed", like "mix engineered", "mixed a compilation", "DJ-mixed", "re-mixed", etc. --DonRedman

A Mixer

A Mixer is a DJ/artist type person who takes other songs by other people (maybe by even other DJ's and even already remixed but that's another thing) and selects which tracks to use. that's pretty much what it is they're doing, they're basically compiling a tracklising. They release a release (VA release to us) with tracks by other artists. What he has done is typically make the tracks fade in and out seamlessly into each other, maybe add some beat drums or other neat/cheesy (depending on how you look at it) effects. Basically he hasn't created new music (no offence to people who like this, it has its appeal, I guess) --mo


You're talking about mixtapes/discs. Common in hip hop, also applicable to some electronic dance music releases. I think you described it pretty acurately, but it doesn't really have much to do with remixing. Sometimes the DJ in question makes a new remix of the track to use in his mix, but if so it get's a new name, and is treated the same way as normal remixes. There is currently no way to represent this in AR, there's no relation for it. "Mixed by" in liner notes usually means something else, something (not sure exactly what) related to the recording of tracks. The best suggestion I heard I believe was "DJ mixed by". //bnw 

A Remixer

A Remixer is a DJ/artist/group-of-artists/company/etc type thing that

  1. takes two or more tracks from one or more artists and messes around with them until it becomes something completely new etc the everloving 'artistX vs. artistY' problematism (aka VersusMeansDifferentThings) which makes where the remixer is the artist. or
  2. takes the one song, and "re mix-engineers" it, aka takes and heavily edits the track, redoes guitar/vocal tags, repeats a part of the track and omits the rest, adds funky boom-bass typethings etc, this is quite similar to what the mix artist does (and I think this is where the confusion lies) but one could argue that the edited (or mangled) track is in such a state that it warrants a differentiation. deciding if the original creator or the remix editer should be the artist in this case would be a tricky thing.

I imagine that the mix/remix editing crowd knows the difference by these two things. --mo


Your first paragraph touches on the ever-loved vs.-crap. Just vocal from one (famous) track, and the instrumental from another (as famous) track. Eminem's vocals over an AC/DC-track, for instance. A so-called "Mashup". We have no good guidelines for this, I believe. For my thoughts on the matter (which I just came up with, yay me!), see below. 

Your second paragraph talks about remixing, although i think you're making it too hard for yourself. Easiest way to describe a remix (and very close to completely true): Take the vocal track from one track and construct a completely new instrumental track to go with it. Put them together. Done.

It does happen with rock tracks, sure, but nowhere near as much as with electronic music of different kinds, which makes me believe it's very often the process of a guy sitting alone with his computer, constructing and editing his new shiny remix until it's done. Not so often (but probably sometimes) including new recording of actual intruments by actual musicians.

Traditionally remixes are credited to the original artist, and the remixer is only credited in the liner notes as "remixed by...".

This made me think that previously mentioned mashups should go under this phenomenon. It's basically the vocal track of one track, and a new (in the combination anyway) instrumental track (namely stolen from another track), and they're put together. It sounds like a (quite lazy) remix in my ears. Anmd should as such be credited to the vocal artist (Eminem in the former example). //bnw



Another thing to note is the distinction between a remix and a reedit. A remix is made from re-combining the original, separate tracks. A reedit is made from the final product, and can involve things like looping a section to make an extended version.

The comment about "Easiest way to describe a remix (and very close to completely true): Take the vocal track from one track and construct a completely new instrumental track to go with it" really isn't true. Often the original vocal track doesn't even apear in the remix! A remix is more about making a new, completely different work using the original separate tracks as source material.

--MatthewExon

Further Complications

The mix engineer is something completely outside this, I think.

a third, forth (fifth??) notch is when the mixer or remixer is the artist/band themselves, these mixes could be said to fade from "mix" to "remix", in order of severity. but since it is the same artist (or one of the band members) the artist should probably still be the same and "remixed by" could be artistX (who is member of) or nothing at all if was just a mix or etc..

if these assumptions are not true, or I've made some sort of stupid error, please feel free to correct me. I've only come to this inclusion by reading everyone's replies and discussions back and fort. --mo

Some Examples and Even Further Complications

I own quite a few compilation/mix releases, and while I'm happy with the Mix Engineer / Remixer descriptions on this page, "DJ mixed by" does not quite solve the mix problem.

For a simple example that does work, see How to Cut & Paste: 80s Edition. The full release title is "DJ Yoda's How to...", and DJ Yoda certainly did a lot of mixing. It is currently listed as a compilation of Various Artists and only associated with DJ Yoda by virtue of his decision to mix his own tracks. Noting that this release was "DJ mixed by" DJ Yoda would be a perfect solution.

Now on to Vorsprung Dyk Technik (disc 2). The tracks on this disc are not mixed together, but according to the liner they are "Sequenced by" Paul van Dyk. Paul van Dyk chose the tracks and put them in order but did not perform any mixing. Another example of this is the Artist's Choice series, e.g. this.

If there were ARs for "DJ mixed by" and "Compiled by", both of these situations could be tagged appropriately. Now that I've written this up and thought about it, I'm not entirely convinced the distinction is worth making, since "DJ mixed by" almost always implies "Compiled by", though the converse is often not true. With both tags around, there might be some confusion in selecting appropriately and a bit of extra work in usually assigning both "DJ mixed by" and "Compiled by" relationships together.

Whatever the final solution, I hope these examples help, and I hope to see at least "DJ mixed by" implemented soon! --cd21

  • I think "Compiled by" should only be in the annotations. You can have a non-musician who selects his favorite songs and not have to touch anything but his own music collection. --Zout