Mash-up, Medley, Marathon

A thought occurred to me while playing for the recent half-marathon. We ukulele players shouldn’t be having song breaks when marathon runners don’t. When we are the foreground music, such as a concert or gig, it’s natural to have beginnings and endings. It not only gives us time to flip to the next song sheet but also let the audience react with applause.

For background music or as support for marathons and other races, however, we need to keep going. How does one keep going when the average song length is 3 minutes?

The most famous mash-up for ukulele is undoubtedly Iz’s “Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World.” Every ukulele player needs to know this. Another Hawaiian medley is the three-chord “Tiny Bubbles” and “Pearly Shells.”

Doctor Uke has created a long list of two and three-song medleys that I’m dying to try. My friends in Boston shared their song books of interesting mash-ups, including “Stray Cat Strut” and “Hit the Road Jack.”

What’s the difference between a medley and a mash-up? A medley is a sequential line-up of songs or song clips, whereas a mash-up could be more creative. Modern disc jockeys specialise in mash-ups so there are no breaks in the dance music. A mix emphasizes quantity (number of songs and song clips) and variety over depth (fewer songs).

Is it possible to re-arrange a one hour set of songs so that each song osmoses into the next seamlessly? What are the tricks? What makes a song a candidate for a mash-up?


For two to tango, something must hold them together, be it a similar riff or melody fragment, harmony (chords), rhythm, subject matter (e.g. love), etc. Here are some suggestions.

Common chord progressions: songs that use the same chords in the same sequence easily meld into each other sequentially as well as simultaneously. Axis of Awesome’s medley of the famous four chords is a prime example.

Same time signature, same rhythm, same tempo: Bye Bye Love and Love Me Do share the same kind of accented strums between yelps of the song title as well as chords that can be superimposed on top of each other.

What makes a great mash-up? In the case of medley, it’s the transitions. For a mash-up of two songs, it would be how the bits interweave together, I would think.


Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

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