Remixing: Reharmonizing UpUpUp by The Mast

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I recently remixed UpUpUp by The Mast and it was included on the band’s latest release on Playloop Records alongside remixes by OddLogic, Beautiful Bells, Justin Paul, Jared Sanders and TheManWithTheStuff. One of the focal points of this remix is the use of a reharmonization technique to change the chords from a minor key to a major key.

From Minor to Major

The original version of the song is in a minor key and it features a mostly pentatonic vocal melody. Because of the nature of this melody, it was easy to turn things upside-down and reharmonize it from a major key perspective. This resulted in a much brigher, happier sound.

Here is the original, in C minor:

And here is my remix, in C major:

To achieve this, I first pitched the entire vocal down a minor third to give it a deeper sound. This moved the key from the original C minor down to A minor. Then I started playing around with chords in A minor’s relative major key, C major until I found what seemed to fit best with the melody.

Every major key has a relative minor key (and vice versa) separated by an interval of a minor third (or a major sixth). For example C major is relative to A minor.

The Chords

The chords I ended up using were the I, IV, V, vi and bVII of C major. The bVII chord (Bb) does not naturally occur in the key of C, but is borrowed from the neighboring key of F major where it occurs naturally as IV. Within the context of C major, it’s called bVII and it’s a great way to make the harmony shift a little to the side when all the rest of the chords you’re using are very inside-sounding chords like the I, IV, and V. You can hear the bVII in use during the chorus when Haale sings the words highest part of.

Into the Light

It was really fun being able to turn the song upside-down while still retaining the original melodic contour. I felt like I was able to honor the original song while shifting the perspective. This shift to a major key gave me the opportunity to explore the sunnier side of the story as if it’s being told, not from the wading in the swamp perspective, but from the highest part of us perspective.

Bryan Noll teaches Ableton Live, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar and Music Fundamentals with Brooklyn Music Lessons.

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