I have been learning a lot about making music in the digital age recently, and one aspect of making music today that I find fascinating is the fact that people are “sampling” everything imaginable – from grand pianos to washing machines – and using these sounds to make songs.

Another interesting development is that many people are trying to recreate the “imperfect” sound of musical instruments played through a cassette recorder. With digital recording, sounds can sound “perfect,” and that is not always pleasing, as there is a texture to “imperfect” sounds that can sound very nice.

Therefore, there are many people who are sampling the sound of instruments played through a cassette so that they can then include that type of sound when they produce music using digital tools (a digital audio workstation or DAW).

old-tape-drums

I was recently reminded of the wonderful texture that music from the past can have when a friend posted on Facebook an original recording of a song from 1966 by the popular and well-respected South Vietnamese composer and singer, Duy Khánh (Xin anh giữ trọn tình quê). So I decided to use some of the sounds from that recording to make something new.

By cutting out parts of the song, playing some parts backwards, and adding reverb to others, I used the sounds (and texture) of this wonderful song to try to create something more contemporary but which is nonetheless indebted to the beauty of the original, a beauty which comes in part from “imperfection”: the guitar and piano are a bit out of sync at the beginning, for instance, and by today’s standards, the sound quality is somewhat unclear, but again, that’s one of the things that makes it sound special.

Xin anh giu tron tinh que 1

The only new sound that I’ve added to this “remix” are some drums. What I have created is definitely “imperfect,” so it would be nice if people who are much more capable at remixing music would “remix the past.” As I see it, it’s a way to honor people in the past and to create something new for the present.