Sunday, July 27, 2014

INFO: My Top Mashup Making Tips

Hi

I've intended to make this post for a while now but after receiving some good advice over on the mashstix.com forum I decided now would be as good a time as any to share what knowledge I have regards making mashups. (Not that I'm any authority on the subject but maybe someone might find some of these points useful)

These techniques are things which I find useful when making mashups, and while there may be other ways of achieving these outcomes; these are the ones that work for me. Feel free to share in the comments if you have any better ideas!

My Top Mashup Making Tips:

1. Differentiate the acapella and instrumental tracks you have on your computer from the rest of your music library in some way. I still find it useful to have a separate folder for acapellas and instrumentals as I then know what I've got to work with, however a more modern solution would be to use some kind of tagging system through your OS or other software.

2. Having trouble warping an acapella? Try warping the original version of the track as well. This will be easier to warp than the acapella and once you have warped the original it will benefit you on two accounts: Firstly you can now more easily tell which words occur on which beats visually when placing warp markers, and also by playing the original and acapella tracks together alongside each other you can hear when the acapella is going out of time. When playing the tracks side by side; if you hear an echo/delay the the tracks are quite out of time, if you hear a phaser effect they are almost perfectly in time and once you cannot distinguish between the two except for maybe an increase in amplitude (volume) of the vocal, they are in time.

3. For whatever reason acapella files you find off the internet may not be the same tempo as the original tracks. Bear this in mind when warping them.

4. Listentoyoutube.com. A very useful site, just remember that audio obtained this way may not be of the highest quality. Also be wary not to infringe on any anyone's copyrights when using this site, okay?

5. Download Switch Sound file converter. As the name suggests this application allows you to convert audio files into different formats. I have two main uses for this software; firstly it allows you to convert MP3 files to WAV files (useful as some applications will not recognise MP3s). And secondly, after you've rendered a WAV file from your DAW, you can then convert the file to an MP3 suitable for sharing online.

6. Download mp3tag. This is an excellent tool for conveniently tagging your mp3 files so people don't have to do it themselves when they download your tracks. It even enables you to add artwork to mp3 files.

7. If you do find an instrumental or acapella online which you may wish to use in future, don't hesitate and download it as soon as possible. I say this as online accounts/sites for instrumentals and acapellas often get shut down, which can leave you searching for the track all over again.

8. Acapellas4u.co.uk is a great site for finding acapellas. The only thing to remember is though, is that the site is not totally exhaustive. So it is always worth checking on Google even if you don't find a track there.

9. When searching for a particular acapella on Google you may find that the first results you find are DIY acapellas. It is still worth looking through a few more results if this is the case, as I have found official acapellas listed lower down than DIY acapellas in the past. This can happen for instance when an official acapella gets leaked sometime after a DIY acapella has already become popular.

10. If you want to find a better quality version of an acapella or instrumental file that you have already downloaded, use the file size as a way to see if a file you find online is identical to one you already have or not.

11. Don't be afraid to move on to a new mashup if it sounds like one you are currently working on will not match correctly.

12. If you find a mashup works in your head but not in reality it doesn't, maybe try to mashup a remix of the instrumental track instead, this has worked for me in the past.

13. When starting out warping, start by warping tracks with very well defined beats, for instance dance or hip hop tracks. You will probably want to ensure you work with music that is in common time (the 4/4 time signature) when you are first starting out too. Then the more you practice the more easily you will be able warp more complicated pieces of music, such as those that have less well defined beat waveforms, and other time signatures.

14. When you first attempt to warp rock songs it can initially seem impossible to visually identify where a downbeat in the music is. A good trick is to notice where a kick (bass) drum hit occurs; they can be identified by zooming in on the waveform and noticing a distinct characteristic wave that occurs on the start of most bars.

15. Use effects to your benefit. Clever use of just a couple of audio effects can make your mashups sound much clearer. For instance filters/EQ can help reduce 'clashing' frequencies and compression is useful to help 'glue' sounds together.

16. Here is a nice tip for downloading mp3 files which are included on websites in things like 'preview players'. Be aware though that this doesn't work on all websites and the location of the mp3 'file name' varies from site to site. Also don't infringe anyone's copyright...okay?

17. If you are not already, become familiar with the following terms; BPM, Warping, Pitch Shifting, Key, Scale, Waveform and OOK

18. If you would like some constructive feedback on your mashups try posting them to the 'Submit Here' board on the Mashstix.com forums. Mashstix.com is also a great place to hear new mashups from both established and less established mashup producers.

19. Make sure your mashups are in time. No one wants to hear an out of time mashup.

20. You will want your mashups to be 'in-key' basically what this means is that the key of the two (or more) tracks you are mashing are identical.

21. Where to find acapellas - acapellas4u.co.uk and google are pretty much the main tools I use. YouTube is also good way of confirming if something actually exists or not even if you don't wish to download the acapella from there at least you know that the track is available somewhere.

22. Make a video for your mashup. Think, pop-stars must make videos for a reason right? From personal experience (and I'm sure this is proven too) there is something about moving pictures that sucks you in. If you already post your mashups on YouTube then consider making a video for them other than just a plain still with music playing. Assuming the tracks you are using already have videos there is nothing to stop you using these to accompany to your mashups. Be aware though that if you are planning on posting the video to YouTube they might decide block the video even if the audio alone is not blocked. If you don't have the time/skills/computer to put together a proper video try making a video based on a slide show of photographs (only those you have copyright for though...right?) as I have found even these are more effective than plain still videos.

23. Creating DIY acapellas and instrumentals - If you can't find an official instrumental or acapella version of a track then there is always the possibility that you could create an acapella or instrumental version of the track yourself. There are various ways to do this and all the different ways I'm aware of are listed here.

24. Discogs.com is a great site for confirming whether an official commercial or promo instrumental release exists for a track, and where you will be able to find it. Be aware though that while extremely comprehensive the discogs database is not totally exhaustive, as I have found instrumental promo releases which exist but are not listed on discogs.

And those are the main pieces of advice I have to offer regarding making mashups. If you would like me to add any more or make any suggestions leave a comment.

Thanks for reading.
Niall

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NiallSpence.com - Troubleshooting and Known Issues

Bugs and Known Issues

Internet Explorer and Firefox - Incorrect links boxes layout: I will solve this problem when I next get chance. Only a minor aesthetic issue.
Internet Explorer - Feature links at the bottom of the page don't load, load incorrectly or takes a long time to load. I'm still working on this feature so hopefully this problem will be solved soon. Until then this site feature works with either Firefox or Chrome.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mid Term Report - 2014!

Hello!

As it is half way through the year thought it would be a good time to round up everything that is new to niallspence.com so far this year.

The first half of 2014 has seen me produce 10 brand new mashups! And so far the most popular mashups have been this Eminem vs Fischerspooner effort and this quite lo-fo Beastie Boys vs Andrew W.K. mix. My personal favourite though is this CSS vs ODB mashup.

If you would like to hear all my mashups from 2014 checkout the YouTube video playlist below:



Download links for each of this year's mashups are coming soon but until then don't forget to download all my 2013 mashups right here.

As well as making new mashups I've been involved in other mashup related activity this year. This includes hosting the Kn0ck0ut plugin for DIY acapella creation and reposting a long-lost-classic Missy Elliot vs Nirvana mashup which had pretty much disappeared from the internet. Click the video below to listen:



Aside from producing new mashups my other main focus so far this year has been improving my website. If you are a regular visitor to the site you may have noticed a few changes over the last two months with developments like a new desktop homepage, improved navigation facilities and a sleeker looking layout which will hopefully make it easier for fans to hear my music and mashups (the mobile version of niallspence.com is halfway through a soon-to-be-completed transformation which will be launched soon).

As for the second half of the year my plan is to work on some new music, so be sure to checkout my soundcloud and if you subscribe/follow/like any of my social media accounts you will be first to hear any new music I release this year.

Thanks for reading and listening!
Niall
@NiallSpence

Monday, June 23, 2014

INFO: Creating DIY Acapellas and Instrumentals

If you want to create a mashup or remix of a track, but can't get hold of the official studio instrumental or acapella via the sources listed here, then there a number of ways to create DIY acapellas and instrumentals or obtain unofficial or alternative versions of instrumentals and acapellas. Read on for a list of the main ways this can be done but keep in mind that there is no guarantee that any of these methods will actually produce a quality acapella/instrumental of a particular song.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

INFO: Where To Find Official Instrumental and Acapella Tracks

Okay so lets say you want to find a download link for a studio instrumental or acapella version of a song, the first thing you probably want do is search for it using Google. However you will probably find that for many tracks it is not as simple as searching and finding a working download link to the official instrumental or acapella you need. If an official instrumental or acapella does not appear on the first few pages of search results, it is likely that it hasn't been made available to the public yet and it is possible it never will be.

However by knowing where most official instrumental and acapella tracks originate from, it may be possible for you to locate the track yourself. Read on for a list of ways you might get hold of an official instrumental or acapella track.

Friday, June 6, 2014

FREE DOWNLOAD: kn0ck0ut 0.8 - DIY Acapella Creation Software

Free Download of kn0ck0ut v0.8 by St3pan0va

Kn0ck0ut v0.8 is VST plugin which allows you to create a DIY acapella using your DAW by spectrally analysing the instrumental and original versions of a track.

This software is by St3pan0va but as their original host site for the free download has since disappeared, I have uploaded it via niallspence.com.

The software is totally free to download, and checkout the read me that comes with the zip download for more information about kn0ck0ut (pronounced knockout). Please note this download is fully legal as the software is distributed as freeware.

While the results using this plugin are far from perfect I decided it would be worth uploading knockout to the internet once more as it still garners interest on sites such as acapellas4u.co.uk.

Also if you run LV2 compatible software then there is a port of the kno0ck0ut plugin with improved performance available here.

Have fun creating acapellas and thanks for reading!

Niall
@NiallSpence

Mobile Links

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mashup Resources

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Search niallspence.com

To search niallspence.com please use the search bar in the navigation bar at the top of the page. If you are browsing the mobile site the search feature is currently in development.

niallspence.com home

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Credits

Thank You!

...for visiting my website; niallspence.com. I'd also like to say thanks for anyone who has taken the time to listen, share or click like on any of the mashups or music featured here.

Also thank you to friends and family who have listened to and offered me advice on music, mashups and the site.

I would also like to say thank you to anyone online who has given me feedback on my tracks or helped out in other ways as well. In particular those on soundcloud, twitter and also at mashstix.com.

Also can I say thank you to anyone who has shared images online under Creative Commons licences or similar. Without your efforts and talents this site would simply be an unappealing wall of text!

Site Credits

As of July 2014, niallspence.com was designed and brought together by me, with the use of various third party tools, as well as my own programming. I thought it would be cool to mention all the resources used in this site, in case anybody browsing would like to implement similar features on their own site/blog.

Credits for the photos used on this site are listed separately at the bottom of this page.

First off the site is a blogger blog. The URL niallspence.com simply redirects to this blog. The template is a standard template with a few HTML, CSS3, javascript, PHP and SQL additions by me.

The image slider used on the homepage is the javascript image slider by menucool. To install it onto my site I followed the instructions given on this blog page and adapted the image slider to suit the site's requirements.

HTML, CSS and javascript knowledge was mainly gained from the w3cschools site. This is in addition to many other blogs, of which there are far too many to mention.

Google Chrome's developer features, including the 'inspect element' menu option, were vital for debugging and updating the site.

The social media follow buttons, and the share buttons on blog posts and other pages, are by addthis.

The niallspence.com search feature uses Google and was loosely based on processing.org's search feature.

Dropbox is used to store various files used on the site such as images and javascript. If you wish to use dropbox in a similar way you will need to learn how to create a 'public' dropbox folder.

The 'more from niallspence.com' links at the bottom of blog posts are automatically created using the nRelate related content plugin.

Features of the site which I designed and impleneted without the use of third party code include the static navigation bar, the features database PHP script and SQL database and the photo credits PHP script. Other blog tweaks I implemented include the redirect from niallspence.blogspot.co.uk to the static homepage and hiding page elements on the static homepage.

Music Credits

The music featured in my mashups is obviously owned by the copyright holder of each piece of music used, and by posting the mashups on a site such as YouTube any royalties generated from views of these videos will be distributed to the appropriate artists.

None of the mashups featured on this site are endorsed by the artists, and are all 100% unofficial.

Photography and Image Credits

All images used on the site are to the best of my knowledge used without infringing upon anyone's copyright. If you feel this site uses one of your photos without permission please contact me and I will resolve this matter as soon as possible.

None of the images of third parties used on the site are used for the purposes of advertising, they are simply simply used to illustrate the news features on the site.

Information on the licence types for each third party image that has been used on the site can be found here.

Full List of Third Party Photography and Image Credits