Defining Music: The Blurred Lines of Original Tracks, Mixes, And Sampling

Artists are known for being creative, for coming up with something out of nothing. For being original. These statements raise a couple of questions for some in the dance music community.  What is the difference between an “original track” and an “original mix”? What exactly defines a track as an “original”? Both are great questions.

Definitions of each term:

Original: “Not derived from something else; fresh and unusual.”
Track: “One of two or more separate recordings that are combined so as to be replayed simultaneously, as in stereophonic sound reproduction.”
Mix: “To combine (two or more audio tracks or channels) to produce a composite audio recording.”
Remix: “To create a new version of (a recording) by recombining and re-editing the elements of the existing recording and often adding material such as new vocals or instrumental tracks.”
(If you disagree with any of these definitions, feel free to give us your opinion!)

With the definitions of each word laid out, would you conclude it’s safe to say that an “original mix” is a bit of an oxymoron? Perhaps we’re getting a bit technical; in fact, we are getting a bit technical, but for any casual listener, these are valid questions when each track sounds oddly similar. Take a listen to 3LAU‘s original track, How You Love Me ft. Bright Lights, then listen to Skrux’s original mix of If You. Anything in Skrux’s track sound vaguely familiar to 3LAU’s?

As you might have been able to hear, 17 seconds into If You, Skrux has quite evidently taken vocal snippets of How You Love Me. This brings us to Sampling (Music): “The act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a sound recording in a different song or piece.” If artists are using portions of an actual original song, why is their track an “original mix” and not a remix? For another example, take a listen to Birthday Cake by Rihanna ft. Chris Brown, and compare it to Goshfather & Jinco’s original mix, Name On It. What are your thoughts on the blurred lines of music “originals”?