Give My Chicken Soup (Mashup)
“Can I give my chicken soup to you?” Honestly, I would ordinarily need to be very hungry to accept an offer like that. The exception would be if it’s canned. And Campbell’s.
Well, this mashup I’ve done of Skrillex and Habstrakt’s HOWSLA release with Joyryde’s “Give My Love” is canned. They’re two premade tracks which I’ve combined and warmed up. It’s now hot and ready to serve.
I’m kind of a level 1 when it comes to mashups. In the past, I’ve done one deadmau5 remix. Another remix I made was for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. Of course, I’ve done covers as a singer and guitarist. Even one mashup made its way to my YouTube Trailer although I didn’t know what it was called at the time.
Subsequently I went into this remix with a lot of doubt. At no time was I sure that I could successfully finish the project. Happily I can say that I’m proud of the result.
Of course I have some experience producing. Even so I still feel that I have a whole lot to learn. With that in mind, I categorize this release as an Eight Bar Embryo.
In this article I want to outline some of the production techniques I used to make this mashup. I feel this might be interesting to some of you. Doing this will also help me review and move on to the next thing.
Skillful in History
To clarify, “Give My Love” is the key of Ab minor. Specifically to itself, it uses some modal mixture. The progression is:
| Abm Dbm Bbm | Ebm Abm |
Surprisingly it’s all minor chords. If you think about it, this is not so strange. A classic part of the House sound is constant structure chords.
On account of primitive samplers no internal modification was possible to recorded sounds. You may be aware of some software which lets you change chords in audio. When House was originating these technologies didn’t exist yet.
Sure there was MIDI. That was available since 1980. Even so you didn’t have any VSTi plugins.
Again, you probably had a hardware sampler. Whatever sound you had recorded would play as it was no matter which key you pressed. The same sample would play at a faster rate and a higher pitch or opposite.
Some people like that sound. It certainly evokes a period in electronic dance music. Hence this song uses minor chords where they shouldn’t technically be.
A Theoretical Problem
Interestingly, when people begin to learn theory something strange happens. They go from the ‘anything is possible’ mindset to ‘right and wrong’. That’s weird because theory should make you more free.
Granted, when you first start then you know that others are better than you. You might play something and they’ll say, “No. Those notes aren’t right.” Usually they’re correct.
The bad part happens while you haven’t yet passed that stage. Undoubtedly you’ve thought to yourself, “This song’s chords make no sense. I don’t understand the theory here. Why can’t I analyze this?” You may be missing one key component of the machine so to speak.
That critical cog is that theory serves us. Your basic theory should open your music to vast horizons of possibility. Unfortunately being so vast is ironically limiting.
When you can do anything then you’re likely to do nothing. This is why no one knows what to do with their lives. In the day of family trades your decision was made prior to your birth.
So Much Love
Now we live in abundant affluence. You have the economic freedom to choose your path. Still, many are unemployed.
It’s a complex problem but it’s hard to get fired when your dad is your boss. That’s what I’m saying here. With music theory you have limitless options but you still must narrow them down to make progress.
In that narrowing you will find specific examples. Hard to learn a trade when you keep getting fired. Similarly, the more you drill down to specific music the more idiosyncrasies you will find.
Indeed this is the classic general to particular progression. In general you want to use diatonic chords for most music. Specifically when it comes to the House genre it’s actually encouraged to break that rule. It adds a certain spice to your stew.
In any case, the only chord that does that here is Bbm. Joyryde doesn’t even play the perfect fifth of the Bbm. Really the opacity of this technique is minimal. Even so, I believe the technique is at play and embodied by this progression.
Another strange aspect of this production is the melody. It’s not uncommon for a melody to start on the perfect fifth of the key. While that’s true, it’s less common to base the melody there. Usually a melody is based around the tonic.
Normally melodies have a strong relationship to the tonic. Though this melody does resolve there I feel it’s more at home on the fifth. Analyze songs for whichever tendency they have.
The melody is based off the Ab minor pentatonic. The line “Can I give my love to you?” is quarter note based and builds energy as it passes. In contrast, the “So much love,” line is very syncopated.
Furthermore, that second line is pitched up an octave. Compare this to the exclusively low vocals of “Chicken Soup” and you can hear how mixture is possible.
Speaking of “Chicken Soup” let’s analyze that track a little bit. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that it fits squarely in the Bass House genre. That’s what it sounds like to me at least.
Originally when I listened to these songs I thought their keys were different. I thought “Give My Love” was major and “Chicken Soup” was minor. Now I think that’s reversed.
Perhaps it’s better not to know too much. This can be especially true very early on in a process. The main thing I listened for was the root note of two parts.
Those two parts were the drop of “Chicken Soup” and the Rave House chords of the Joyryde track. I knew upon initial listening that I wanted the Skrillex drop as my foundation. Apparently the contrast between that and the syncopated House chords appealed to me.
Although the bass in the Joyride drop doesn’t have a clear pitch, the melody does. The sample of her saying “love” is very clearly on the tonic of Ab. On the other hand, the HOWSLA track has its drop on E.
Drop the Base
Because I wanted the Habstrakt collaboration to be my mashup’s foundation, I changed its partner instead. Repitching, or electronically transposing, samples has a detrimental effect on their timbre. This effect can be subtle or obvious.
To that end any effect performed on a whole track, as opposed to an individual one, has a magnified effect. They say that adding reverb to a master is like adding it to every individual track. The same thing goes for compression in that one channel can be squashed but a whole mix should breathe.
It’s true that in my “Give My Chicken Soup” mashup you can hear more artifacts in the sister song. Sometimes you have to make compromises. The secret is to shirk lesser aspects as opposed to the main one.
Now would be a good time to mention that I did not select these tracks myself. As I was surfing online I came across someone’s request. Sadly that person has likely deleted that post so I can’t identify them.
At this time I am trying to expand my EDM vocabulary. Because of this I find it helpful to seek out those more knowledgeable than myself. Though it’s clear to me that these tracks sound similar I probably wouldn’t have found them myself.
I called the stabs ‘Rave House’ earlier. That is my personal association. See, I grew up in Chicago during the 90’s. For this reason, I think a lot of the genres are blended in my mind.
Surely anyone can go online and find conflicting definitions about what genre a tune is in. G-House, Garage, and Trap are all words used to describe “Give My Love”. Honestly I’m not sure that it even matters.
It’s also been described as Bass House. That’s definitely what I’d call the Skrillex and Habstrakt tune. For cryin’ out loud there’s a site called Genre is Dead.
I liked the tracks and as a result I moved forward with them. Working with the two has been very educational. Just remember to separate the musical qualities from the critical ones.
To conclude the point on transposition, I raised the key of “Give My Love” one half step. For the reasons I’ve mentioned, it’s good not to transpose to large intervals. Luckily it worked out well.
Essentially, I put the Joyryde banger into the key of Am. I hear the OWSLA drop in E major. Originally I thought the Skrillex track was in E phrygian and “Give My Love” was in Ab major.
Of course that was wrong. Now I can hear that “Give My Love” is definitely in Ab minor. But, the key for “Chicken Soup” is less clear. My current opinion is that it’s based around E double harmonic major.
That is to say it has heavy b9, b13 and major third colors. The vocal, “Walk in to the room, so sick chicken soup,” is based around the perfect fifth and minor sixth. In contrast, the weird oscillating whiny vocal sample uses the major sixth and seventh intervals.
Modally this gives us an interesting combination. Because I made “Chicken Soup” my base key we have to say my mashup is in E major. There is no harmonic system of which I’m aware that allows these two tonalities to coexist.
Stir It Up
This is a perfect example of modal mixture. E double harmonic major is our base but our color track is in natural minor a perfect fourth above. The home key uses Hungarian minor as it’s IV color.
In that sense we’re still using a IV minor color. Even so, the details are different. Regardless, it’s the drop that matters as always.
Keep in mind that most of this was done intuitively. Without doubt, I’ve put a substantial amount of time into my music theory and writing. Still I focused mostly on the flow and combination of available sounds.
Using “Give My Love”, in it’s IV minor position, I was able to drop into E like a plagal cadence. Here it functions as a tension builder. I think the fact it’s using a borrowed mode gives even more tension for this role.
The critical point for me here is that I didn’t think about any of this at first. I went under the false assumption that one track was in A and the other in E. “Ah, a perfect fifth. That should work,” I thought to myself. From there I could move forward.
Consequentially, moving forward can be more important that being 100% right. I even reversed my key order. I’d figured I was in A when actually my song is an inversion of that.
The bottom line that makes this work is the root note. Every other pitch in a song revolves around the tonic. Since these two roots are, after transposing, a perfect interval apart I’m not surprised that they mash well.
Naturally we could dismiss all of this as dumb luck. However I think minding a few compositional details is worthwhile. Specifically how I didn’t combine the “Give My Love” stabs with the drop of “Chicken Soup”.
As an illustration, I used the build from “Chicken Soup” and juxtaposed that with the stabs. Whereas the stabs give me harmonic motion, the Skrillex build is very flat. In fact, the repetition in the words, “chicken soup,” fall on the minor third and major second of those chords.
Beyond that example I’ll leave it to you to hear whether the two songs are well matched. I think they work well together. Props to the original dude that heard this.
Can I Give?
Allow me to take the time to thank you for reading. Previously I was just publishing brief snarky blurbs to announce my music. Again, studying some SEO has encouraged me to say more.
If this has been helpful then share it with a friend. I’ll probably make a video on this tutorial later. Subscribe via my Newsletter for updates.
Real quick let me point this fact out. If you’re a creative person then try to maximize your output for each project. Don’t think you need to do 100 projects for 100 products.
In the case of this mashup, I made the mix, a companion music video, this article and possibly another video. The last one will be a tutorial.
The method I use for coming up with content is outlined by Austin Kleon in the book Show Your Work. I recommend it as well as Steal Like An Artist by the same author. These small and inexpensive books can transform your creative life so check them out.
Currently I’m publicizing my work on Mondays 4PM PST. If you like what I do then become a Patron. Share in the glory.
See you next week.