First of all, contrary to popular misuse, it is not mix tape; the original term is indeed mixed tape which is the more grammatically correct way of indicated a tape which contains songs "mixed" by the creator. However, in popular culture the two terms have been used so interchangeably it is almost a moot point. The music is what's important, after all. Anyway, the basic idea is to collect a number of songs from different artists, and re-record them onto a tape or CD. The goal of this process can be anything from collecting some of your favorite music, proposing (it's been done), or deviously trying to propagandize the listener (with songs with a unifying political message). These goals are reflected in the following 'types' of mixed tapes, for which I am almost wholly indebted to the Art of the Mix (http://www.artofthemix.org), which also happens to be the premier site on the web for learning about, making, or sharing your own mixed tapes. I highly recommend it. The good people at Art of the Mix list over fifteen types, I am going to focus on just a few of the most well-known/interesting.
Some Categories of Mixed Tapes
The Romantic Mix
Perhaps the most popular type of mix. This is used to either proposition marriage, or celebrate affection, or simply talk about love through music. Stand-ins for romantic mixes are "our songs," or others of nostalgic importance. Romantic mixes can convey messages in the lyrics, song titles, or in the most subtle, it can even be conveyed through the feeling or tone of the music itself. As in all matters of the heart, romantic mixes are a tricky business, and should be used with caution. They can end a relationship or scare away the recipient as easily as induce overwhelming feelings of elation and affection. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY AND TASTEFUL, do not make break-up mixes; it's a perversion of the art. But I suppose that's my personal opinion. Anyway, on to...
The Sleep Mix
This is one of my favorites; I love falling asleep to music, and a finely-crafted sleep mix can make the act of dozing an almost narcotic experience. Don't tell my friends, but I have cried myself to sleep out of sadness, happiness, and maybe a combination of the two while listening to sleep mixes I've made. Perhaps the brain's emotional centers are more active just before sleep. Who knows?
The Indoctrination Mix
This can be one of the most entertaining types of mixes with which to battle your friends, especially if you differ on matters of musical taste. I've been making my friend electronic music tapes for years now without success. But success...well, you have never tasted the sweet wine of vindication until you have converted the nonbeliever.
Tape or CD
Opinions wildly differ as to which format is more superior for making mixes. I am personally fairly ambivalent towards the issue. As I said, the music is what matters. Further more, it seems that one's preference might vary with the category of mix your attempting. But for those of you that like making allegiances, here is a short list of pros I have heard from both sides, in random order.
- traditional, people more likely to have tape decks in their car
- cannot capture that "mixed tape" sound on CD (clicks and static from switching songs manually)
- indicates a greater amount of time spent by the creator (an especially powerful argument in the area of romantic mixes)
- larger capacity = more space to say what you mean
- won't skip
- you can decorate a tape with more ease/flexibility
For the sake of example, here is a mixed tape I made for myself to purposely induce nostalgia.:
What I Regret About What We Did and How I Talked to You:
- Ego Maniac Kid Blonde Redhead
- Crowned in Chrome Crooked Fingers
- Ashes of American Flags Wilco
- A.M. 180 Grandaddy
- Trailer Trash Modest Mouse
- Stop the Show Built to Spill
- Wait Until Five 764-HERO
- Up to You Yo La Tengo
- Way Behind Low & Springheel Jack
- Gone Beta Band
- The Biggest Lie Elliott Smith
- If Winter Ends Bright Eyes
- Barnacles Ugly Casanova
- Two-Faced Quasi
- Inched Towards Juarez Seam
- Blistered Heart Badly Drawn Boy
- When You Sleep My Bloody Valentine
- Gymnopedie No. 1 Erik Satie
- In Which Our Hero is Placed Under a Spell Dntel
Whatever you call it, a mixed tape is a beautiful thing