We've seen all kinds of cool music software that puts cutting-edge production tools in the hands of up-and-coming musicians with more talent than financial resources or contacts. Hit 'n' Mix Play is one of the most unique and interesting yet. It rips up and lays out your MP3 and CD tracks so you can mash and mix them up in new and dazzlingly brilliant beats -- and since it's free, there's no stopping you from practicing and perfecting your art. It breaks down vocals, instruments, percussion, and even noise. You can change beats, tempos, and pitch; add vibrato and other effects; and record and share the results.
When you install Hit 'n' Mix, the wizard recommends reading the short, PDF-based User Guide. We agree; Hit 'n' Mix Play isn't difficult to use, but it's a bit technical and has its own nomenclature. For instance, tracks are known as Rips. You can keep up to three Rips at once in the Rips Panel, which appears in the upper-right corner when you mouse over the area. Hit 'n' Mix Play has a colorful main interface that is dominated by the program's unique way of visually depicting the various elements of music. The program displays Rips as thick, wavy spectral lines on the main graph, each color-coded by instrument: Clarinet, Guitar, Voice, and so on. Just as it's difficult to imagine what a mashed-up tune sounds like without actually hearing it, you have to see and use Hit 'n' Mix Play's amazing interactive interface to appreciate it. You can move, reshape, and alter notes simply by clicking and dragging. The program's Home Menu accesses the manual as well as updates and About file.
The manual advised us that it can take some time to create a Rip track from an MP3 or CD audio file -- up to 30 minutes for a 3-minute Rip with a single-core processor. Though our system's dual-core CPU made pretty quick work of the conversion, we were glad we'd been advised, because 5 minutes is a long time in cyber-minutes. But that's only the beginning. The real fun starts when you load your Rips.