Mixtape as metaphor for creativity

Mixtape is the traditional term. Today we call them playlists because there’s no more tape. Mix CD just never felt right.

But whether mixtape or playlist, the idea is the same. You’re choosing songs from one context, placing them in another, and arranging them carefully to create an intended effect.

If you do your job right, not only will individual songs speak to the listener, but the entire playlist as a whole. It will create a single cohesive idea, a story that begins in one place then takes you to another–each song creating a bridge to the next.

The beauty is that anyone with a computer can do it. You don’t need expensive sampling software or turntable skills. Of course in the hands of a DJ, turntables become tools for high art. Especially given that DJs do their work on the fly and in the flow of the moment. The same is true for producers, remixing, taking songs apart, dissecting beats.

But even in the simple mode of creating a playlist, you’re introducing core elements of creativity and storytelling–combing existing elements in a collage, without altering the form of those elements, to create something new. The curator is no less an artist.

What is your definition of design?
A plan for arranging elements in such a way as to best accomplish a particular purpose.

Is design an expression of art (an art form)?
The design is an expression of the purpose. It may (if it is good enough) later be judged as art.
– Interview with Charles Eames

Recommended reading:
“Rhythm Science” by Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky


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