The most important element in a great DJ set are the tracks that you choose to play. Once you've selected your track playlist, you'll need to get to know what's going on musically in each song, in order to decide how to mix your tracks together.
To successfully perform any type of mix, you'll need to know how to count bars and beats. The majority of electronic dance and urban music is written in 4/4 time (hence the term 'four on the floor'), and is organized into four groups of eight count (or 'beat') sections. Listen to your favorite track, and beginning on beat one, (called the 'downbeat') count the beats like this:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
3 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
4 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
You'll notice that new melodic or percussive elements in your track are introduced after eight beats, and major transitions in the song typically occur after the fourth bar of eight beats, i.e., 32 beats).
Use this knowledge as a guide to help you select where to place your mixes. You'll need to listen carefully to the songs in your collection, and analyze how long each section of the song is to discover the best places to mix.
Let's have a look at the structure of a simple track:
You'll see that the beginning and the ending of this track are percussive. In the simplest form of a DJ mix, you can overlap one track's intro with another track's outro to create a new percussive rhythm. They can be mixed together like this:
You can also perform shorter mixes like this:
Before you begin to mix, ask yourself:
'Does this transition make musical sense?'
When selecting where to place your mixes, it's helpful to imagine yourself as a dancer on the floor. If you're tearing it up during the chorus of your favorite song, you'll keep your feet moving if the next track begins smoothly when the chorus ends. As you're mixing, you'll always want to think about maintaining a consistent flow of tracks, and focus on establishing a solid groove.
As a DJ, it's essential that you learn different styles of mixing. The more techniques you know, the greater amount of variety and interest you'll be able to add to your sets.
As a DJ, it's essential that you learn different styles of mixing. The more techniques you know, the greater amount of variety and interest you'll be able to add to your sets. Here are three types of mixing transitions you should focus on mastering.
The blend is a fluid transition from one record to the next that creates a seamless mix of the two tracks. This is the simplest type of mix to perform and can be used to create infinite musical possibilities. You begin by playing a track on one deck, blending in the second track, and mixing down the volume of the first track. It works really well as a transition technique for most electronic dance music written in 4/4 time, especially house, techno, electro or trance.
Here's how to execute the blend:
The cut (or 'drop mix') is a quick change from one record to another, and is most effective when performed without missing a beat between the two tracks. Cut mixes are traditionally heard in hip hop, dubstep, drum and bass, and breakbeat heavy tracks. The key to the cut is to have perfect timing, which takes much practice. Here's how to perform the cut:
Preliminary requirements: Make sure your crossfader mode or curve is set to a 'scratch curve'; this means the channel volume will cut in as soon as you move the crossfader from one side into the center.
The keys to success with this technique are your timing, and choosing the right place in both tracks for the cut. You need to be right on time for it to work!
Digital DJing software makes it easy to loop tracks; you can instantly create continuous new segments that are useful for mixing. If your tracks have short intros or outros, try looping these sections to extend them, and create instant remixes. You can even mix two or more loops together! Here's how to mix into a loop:
To achieve a perfect mix, you'll need to:
It's a good idea to record your mixes, and listen back to them to evaluate your DJ skills. Keep practicing and creating mixes; with consistent practice you will improve!
|Please note: All of the instructions are written for DJs who have their Deck A assigned to the left-hand side of the crossfader (and vice versa for Deck B). If you have your crossfader in 'hamster' mode (when the mixer is set up in reverse), you will need to adjust your crossfader movements accordingly in order to perform these mixes.|