Remixing YouTube, One Video At A Time The latest viral video doesn't just come from YouTube — it's a remix of it. Amateur musicians with video cameras and homemade gadgets are all the playthings of an Israel-based musician and producer named Kutiman, who blends their sounds and images into unique songs.
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Remixing YouTube, One Video At A Time

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Remixing YouTube, One Video At A Time

Remixing YouTube, One Video At A Time

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A new Internet phenomenon takes videos from YouTube - recitals, music how-tos, random sound clips - and mashes them up into new creations.

It might start with raw ingredients like this bass riff in C-minor from a guy in what appears to be his bedroom.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: And add an amateur pianist playing Beethoven)

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man #1: Cabasa.

BLOCK: And a cabasa lesson.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: Through in a Moog synthesizer and a Gameboy console, a couple of drummers, a classical quartet, a quintet, an a cappella singer demo-ing her new tune, a rapper and several other players all doing different songs and grooves, and if we put it together, we get:

(Soundbite of noise)

BLOCK: A mess. But Israeli DJ and musician, Ophir Kutiel, known as Kutiman, gets something different.

(Soundbite of mash-up)

BLOCK: Kutiman released his mash-up video album, called "Through You," just over a week ago, in an email to 20 friends. He asked them to keep it under wraps until he could do a little tweaking, but it leaked, and how.

Now some of the tracks have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and many of the original source videos are getting thousands of hits, too.

Kutiman told me it all started with Internet trolling.

Mr. KUTIMAN (Musician): I was going through YouTube, and I took some music videos, just to pick up some new licks for the guitar and piano, and I ran across this drummer explaining how to play this funky groove, and I - it was so funky just him playing and talking, I said all it's missing is, you know, some music.

So I thought to myself, I'll take the video, and I played the rest of the music, and it's going to be great fun. And I did it, and I really liked the result.

So I decided to do another one, and on the second one, just before I plugged, you know, my bass guitar to play, I was thinking, like, why should I play the bass? Maybe I can find on YouTube somebody play bass, and I put it on it.

And from then on, you know, just fell in love with the idea and just I did the whole thing.

BLOCK: I've been looking at a bunch of the videos in there. It's a lot of fun to see this collection of people from all over the place, and on the song, "This Is What It Became."

(Soundbite of song, "The Is What It Became")

BLOCK: We see a guy playing bass, and what I like is he's clearly, I guess, in his house, and you see a diploma behind him from DePaul University. So you get a little sense of the back story of the people, too.

Mr. KUTIMAN: Yeah, you can see all kinds - you know, if you watch it, I know like every frame by heart now, but you can find all kind of small things, you know. I really - this is what made me love it, too.

(Soundbite of song, "This is What it Became")

BLOCK: There are like a zillion instruments being played, and not just instruments on this song. There's all sorts of other stuff going on here, too, a dub-box, a dub-siren, a little sort of mechanical monster. How are you finding these things? I mean, if you're searching on YouTube, it's one thing to search for, you know, cello or trombone, but how are you find the monster?

Mr. KUTIMAN: You know, I think the beautiful thing of YouTube is the related videos. So once you get to, like, I don't know, a toy piano and just, like, put toy piano or something, you get a list of related videos of all sorts of crazy things, endless.

(Soundbite of song, "This Is What It Became")

Unidentified Man #2 (Singer): (Singing) (Unintelligible).

BLOCK: When you're putting these YouTube videos together, combining them to make this one song, I assume you must have to be pitch-shifting, shifting tempo to make them all line up. There's no way these people could all be playing in the same key at the same tempo.

Mr. KUTIMAN: Well actually, I think in the whole album, I pitch-shift maybe two or three movies and even only one semi-tone or something. I really did my best not to pitch-shift and not to - you know, only cut and paste.

BLOCK: How long did all of this take you to put together?

Mr. KUTIMAN: About two months but with no food and no sunlight.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: You were locked inside?


BLOCK: But you're a musician yourself and a producer. It didn't get boring at some point to be working just with other people's, at times, pretty lousy recordings of themselves making music?

Mr. KUTIMAN: Actually, the other way around. After I finished this project, It was - looked to me really boring to play something myself, I don't know, to compose a song or something, play guitar and play bass, and it really looked boring to me.

I say why, it has no video in it, and it has no person in it, and it has no other life in it, and so really the other way around. It was fascinating to work on it, and I think it's the most incredible project I've ever worked on. I really had a great, great time.

BLOCK: Well Ophir Kutiel, it's good to talk to you. Thanks for telling us about your creation here on "Through You."

Mr. KUTIMAN: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to talk with you.

BLOCK: Ophir Kutiel says so far he's had no complaints from the musicians whose videos he's used, and he says some have actually formed new musical communities because of his mash-ups.

You can check out the mash-up for the song we were talking about and get links to his video collection, titled "Through You," at

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