dUb, Higher Learning

On art of mixing 12″ single

Various – Observer Master Mix LP

The early 1980s were a period in which the lines between studio producers, engineers, songwriters and disc-jockeys became increasingly fuzzy. Many dj’s, in addition to spinning records at clubs, ventured into dance music production, bringing many of the workplace concepts and techniques into the recording studio. In the process, the art of mixing using a multitrack console and recorder, and of mixing at a dance venue, using two or more turntables and a comparatively unsophisticated audio mixer, moved closer to each other. The more savvy djs were the first to feed the know how thus acquired back to the dance venue.
As a result, the number of versions found on a 12-inch single has increased from two (A-and B-side) to about four to six. To account for this new flexibility, different categories of versions or mixes were developed during this period, as djs became increasingly involved in the songwriting, producing and engineering of dance music. The oldest of these now more or less standard categories is the dub .
In addition to containing one extended, one instrumental and one or more dub mixes, contemporary 12-inch dance singles often feature at least one of the following:

-a Club Mix which refers to the location the music is geared for, often specific:
Both the “Paradise Ballroom Mix” on Arnold Jarvis’ “Take some time out” and the “1018 Mega Mix” on Nia Peeples’ “High Time” refer to renowned da& venues in New York City.

-a mix named after one of the current dance music styles: examples are “House Mix.”
“Hip-Hop Mix” or “Hurlev’s Hia House Mix” (the latter refers to the author of the mix as well as

the style).

-a mix bearing the name of the author of the version in question, in almost all cases a dj.
(e,g. “Lam Levan 12″ MegaMix” of Gwen Guthrie’s “Outside in the Rain,” “Shep Pettibone Mix” of Janet Jackson’s “The pleasure principle,” “Duane Bradlev Mix” of Inner City’s “Big Fun”).

This underscores the high social status dj’s may achieve by issuing his own remix.

-one of either an Acapella, or Percapella mix.

-a Bonus track (track here refers to one cut on a vinyl record), either called Bonus Beats, a version stripped of all instrumentation except the percussion and, perhaps, a bassline.
The less frequent alternative is to include a bonus track consisting of an entirely different song, in the way that some CD’s feature songs that are not included on albums featuring otherwise identical music and packaging.

-a radio edit, also called 7-inch edit, featuring a mix whose duration and arrangement conforms with standards used in radio programming, and is most often identical with the album and/or 7-inch single version.


Sizzla
 / Black Uhuru – One Love / I Love King Selassie


The interaction or overlap between the technological approaches characteristic of the recording studio on one side and the dj booth at a dance venue on the other is exemplified by the way the aesthetic domain of the latter former has affected that of the former. When moving from record to the next, the dj bases his choice of sequence on his assessment of the compatibility between the two songs, in order to make as “good” transition as possible.

Stur-Mars session with deejay U Brown. © Beth Lesser

Text from:
“Supremely clubbed, devastatingly dub bed” : Some observations on the nature of mixes on 12inch dance singles.
Author:
Kai Fikentscher.
Versions of this paper were presented at the 1990 meetings of the Mid Atlantic Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (MACSEM) in Newark, Delaware, and of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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