In this age of CDRW drives and digital music, it's easier than ever to create a CD of various songs for your friends. This is a lot of fun, because not only can you bring a smile to your friends' faces with a thoughtful gift, but you also expose each other to bands and songs the other may have never heard before. However, there is a certain "art" to creating a good mix CD, and here are some tips to help you: MAKE A PLAYLIST FIRST You may find you didn't choose your song list or order as well as you could have. If you've built a playlist before burning the CD, you can listen to it a few times to make sure the flow is what you were aiming for.
You'll also save money and the environment by not having to throw away a bunch of CDs if you change your mind. DON'T REPEAT THE SAME BANDS Unless you're making a "best of" compilation for a specific group, it's best to only have one song per unique band per CD. Unless all of your chosen songs are particularly short, you'll only get 15-20 songs per CD anyway, so there's really no need for repeats.
VARY THE TEMPO Think of a movie soundtrack. It usually starts out with either a fast-paced or upbeat song, slows down, and then picks back up again. Your mix should do the same. This allows the listener to ride the "wave" of emotions and will increase its chances of being listened to repeatedly. NORMALIZE THE VOLUME If you've ever made a mix CD before, you may have noticed that newer songs always seem louder than older songs, even if you extracted them from their CDs with the same program, computer, and settings.
It can be somewhat annoying to the listener if he or she has to keep adjusting the volume while the CD is playing. Various CD burning and MP3 extraction software have a setting to keep the volume the same between different tracks. You can also use a separate utility, such as MP3 Gain to adjust the music files themselves. START THE CD WITH A MOVIE OR TV SAMPLE Using a recorded piece of dialog from a movie or television show can really set the mood for the entire disc.
For added effect, you can add samples throughout the CD or as the final track. MAKE SURE YOUR SONGS LEAD INTO EACH OTHER Don't shift genres or pacing too quickly between songs. You can almost disorient your listener by going from a slow country ballad, to a fast-paced speed metal song, then following that with a classical piano piece. With some well-chosen songs in between, you can pull off having all three of these types of songs on the same CD, but it takes a lot of thought in order to do this successfully.
You'll find that making mix CDs gets easier each time you do it, so don't fret if you think you're spending too much time getting it together. If your friends love and appreciate it, it'll be worth every minute you spent.
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