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1 + 1 + 1 = 1: The new math of mashups, by Sasha Frere-Jones

Image source: Gullbuy

Text source: The New Yorker

January 10, 2005

In July of 2003, Jeremy Brown, a.k.a. DJ Reset, took apart a song. Using digital software, Brown isolated instrumental elements of “Debra,” a song by Beck from his 1999 album “Midnite Vultures.” Brown, who is thirty-three and has studied with Max Roach, adjusted the tempo of “Debra” and added live drums and human beat-box noises that he recorded at his small but tidy house in Long Island City. Then he sifted through countless a-cappella vocals archived on several hard drives. Some a-cappellas are on commercially released singles, specifically intended for d.j. use, while others appear on the Internet, having been leaked by people working in the studio where the song was recorded, or sometimes even by the artist.

After auditioning almost a thousand vocals, Brown found that an a-cappella of “Frontin’,” a collaboration between the rapper Jay-Z and the producer Pharrell Williams, was approximately in the same key as “Debra.” The two songs are not close in style—“Debra” is a tongue-in-cheek take on seventies soul music, while “Frontin’ ” is hard and shimmering computer music—but the vocalists are doing something similar. Brown exploited this commonality, and used his software to put the two singers exactly in tune.

Read the entire article at The New Yorker

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