I know this song

Once in a while, we find ourselves at a party, a bar or some place where music is playing loudly and do not have control over the speakers frequencies.

No matter how many decibles the music blasts at, people can still have converstations and tune out the blasting track and commit it to white noise.

But, then the track fades and something happens; an opening chord, a bass beat or a vocal intro and then it dawns on you:

‘I know this song!’

The realizition and reaction seems to make the next three to four minutes so much better.

Something strange occurs when people hear a song they know unexpectedly or slighlty altered.

Just moments ago I listened to a track from one of my favorite bands, Circa Survive, but as an 8-bit remix (old school video game noises).

I knew that I liked this band and that I like 8-bit remixes, mainly for nerd humor and to appreciate the challenge of creating a musically viable remix in such a genre. However, the second the track comes on a smile reaches ear-to-ear as if I never heard of either.

The same happens with mash-up remixes.  The fact that two songs merge into a weird amalgamation that is just as, if not more, groovin’ than before brings a refreshing and eye-opening feeling to the listener when done correctly.

Perhaps, I am simple-minded with musical recreations and spontaneous sonic recognition, so much so that with mash-ups I take it to the next level thnking, ‘I know both of these songs’.

The feeling we get might be tied to a memory associated with the song, or accentuate the mood we are in, good or bad.  The delight could also come from a pavlovian type response, where we feel rewarded for previously investing emotion into a certain artist’s work.

With mash-ups and remixes it partly comes from the fact that we are recalling the love for the original song and appreciating the nuances that this new arrangement brings to it.  An odd example is how I first heard a mash-up of two songs before hearing the individual tracks and now recall the remix any time I hear either of the two originals.

Smell might be the strongest sense tied to memory, but hearing gives it a good run.  Some interesting literature on the subject are two books by David Levitin, The World in Six Songs and This is Your Brain on Music, and if you want to experience more delight with audio recognition, two of my favorite mash-up artists are Super Mash Bros. and the Hood Internet.


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