A mix CD is a user constructed disc of music, easily to make with a home computer and CD drive. Some people consider making a good mix CD an art form, with some clear guidelines on how to put one together. But whether you need some feel good music for driving, a compilation to get you through a long flight, or special music for a romantic evening, mixing a CD ensures that you have your favorite music just the way you want it.
The easiest way to make a mix CD is by using a music software program such as iTunes®. Not only does the program allow you to arrange playlists and easily burn CDs, it also has a link to the iTunes® store, where you can purchase any last minute necessities for your mix that you don’t yet own. Advanced mixers can also make use of a sound edition program, like Sound forge, to customize levels and fades for a smoother CD.
According to Rob Gordon in High Fidelity, “the making of a great compilation…is hard to do and can take ages longer than it might seem,” but it can still be fun. Choose music that you love, and make CDs for whatever occasion you might need. Try making a mix CD of songs that remind you of summer, or a nostalgic mix of your favorite songs as a teenager.
As you build your playlist, try listening to the end of each song and the beginning of the one next on the list. This can help you discover the flow and rhythm of the CD; it may even tell a story. Decide if you want a CD that has a long build to a climactic finish, or something that stays consistently mellow or consistently hard-core. Listening to how one song leads into another can truly make your mix CD feel seamless.
If you are making a mix CD for someone else, take care to find out what they really like and dislike. A gift CD is not about how good your musical taste is or what message you are trying to send, it is about making something that will make another person smile. While CDs can be a real expression of your individuality and personality, when they are for another person, they should be about them.
Mix CDs can make wonderful and inexpensive gifts. If you’re having a low-budget Christmas holiday, try making a CD of funny and unusual carols to give to family and friends. Be sure to check the lyrics on included songs, however; Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah” may be hilarious to your friends, but might seriously upset Grandma.
The goal of a mix CD is to create an experience you can take with you. Creating the correct mood with song styles and artists can be the difference between a good CD and a classic one. Experiment with new artists and old favorites, and don’t get too bogged down worrying about whether everything fits together perfectly or that the songs are of different genres. Remember that you aren’t being graded, and the experience of making the CD may be nearly as fun as listening to the results.