By: Ana Qarri

 

Much to our dismay, not everyone has the voice of Adele, or the musicality of Joni Mitchell. (This is probably for the best, as I can’t imagine much would get done if we never stopped singing, playing guitar, and composing tear-jerking melodies about Manhattan hotels.)

This means that when it comes to serenading our significant others, and even our friends, we have to rely on other people’s voices and strumming fingertips.

However, (and don’t let that one musically talented friend tell you otherwise) making playlists is an art of its own.

It all started with the mixtape. The mixtape wasn’t a technological masterpiece. As my parents found out the hard way, its contents could be easily destroyed in the hands of a curious 5 year old. But it wasn’t the design or the structural ingenuity that gave each mixtape meaning.

In the hands of love-struck teenagers, the mixtape was the perfect paper for their very first love letter. Between pressing Record/Play/Stop and leaving too many seconds of silence between songs, they started feeling the first pangs of what they thought was love.

Handed nervously on the 61st day of a relationship, the mixtape was the perfect gold to engrave the promise of another 61.

Some say that the beauty of playlists vanished along with mixtapes.

While dragging songs on iTunes doesn’t seem as romantic as spending hours recording a tape, the drawbacks of the technology weren’t the artist’s real hardships. Making a playlist is about spending hours deciding which song to begin with, or deferring this crucial decision until the end of the process. You don’t want to overwhelm them right away, but you do want to let them know that overwhelming is what you’re aiming for.

Making a playlist is about deciding when you want to feel the bass kicking in. Is the fourth song too soon? Do you want the vibrations of your heart beat to resonate across their sound system or does this make you feel too vulnerable? Will you throw in some James Blake or Frank Ocean to let them know what their absence feels like, or will the silence suffice? Will it reflect all you’ve ever felt for them, or will you focus on that one night when all you really wanted to do was sit next to them?

When you’ve placed them next to each other, arranged the breaks in between to give someone time to think and time to breathe, these sounds become yours.

So, if you lack musical skills, don’t despair. There are millions of songs out there, all waiting to be added to a playlist, all waiting for you to give them meaning.

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