A mashup is taking two songs and beat-matching them together to create a new blended mix of both songs. A classic example is the mashup of Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” and New Order’s “Blue Monday.” 

First gaining popularity midway through the first decade of the 2000s, it’s often done using full stereo mixes (with vocals), or, alternately, an a cappella and a stereo mix (possibly an instrumental). To hear a variety of well crafted mashups, check out mashup artists such as Party Ben or Girl Talk. Mashups became such a hit on the dance floor that some producers (such as Richard X) went on to remake parts of the original songs in order to clear the entire mashup for commercial release. For example, “Freak Like Me,” the 2002 UK hit by the Sugababes, is a combination of the lyrics from Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me” and the music of Gary Numan’s “Are Friends Electric?”

The point behind my little history lesson is, you don’t always have to play a traditional instrument, or even record a track, in order to be wonderfully creative with music.

I have the privilege of working with music production students at all levels of experience, some are seasoned musicians while others are just starting piano lessons.

Obviously, for our production project in class, I expect students to create their own tracks, one way or another. It’s a snap for experienced players to record a performance, but a serious challenge for students just beginning an instrument to record something decent. As an alternative, I encourage the use of MIDI files, a cappella mixes, and sampling (for educational purposes only, of course!). These resources can provide a signal and a musical performance with which to practice your production chops, whether you play an instrument or not.

However, if you have never worked with samples or imported a MIDI file, taking advantage of these resources can be intimidating. One of the best ways I know to explain the whole process is to show you in a song.

So, without playing a darn thing, just using my ears and production skills, I produced a mashup in Reason 4 using an a cappella, a MIDI file of a cover tune, and a sample of the original tune — all items I found for free on the internet. This mashup features Tone-Loc’s “Funky Cold Medina” (which itself samples “Jamie’s Cryin’” by Van Halen) and Kraftwerk’s “The Model.”

You can listen to the mix below.

You can also download the Reason song file below to explore the session in all its details. It’s about 8 MB and I did it in Reason 4, so it will open fine in any current version of Reason. Enjoy the mashup!

Cold Medina Mashup

 Published January 18, 2008