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  • Writer's pictureRianPelati7

Back to Basics

Every Tuesday Lets Go Big Tunes brings you tips and tricks to help on your dj journey

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Learn to beat match

Moving from one track to the next effortlessly is what every DJ needs to do, this is your bread and butter. While the debate rages on about using Sync or not, there’s one thing every DJ should be able to do and thats beat match. There is no excuse if you can’t do it, every professional DJ can do it. Besides its a great thing to learn and you’ll be very pleased with yourself when you’ve mastered it.

One of the greatest reasons to learn beat-matching is that it’ll help tune your ears to ever nuance of the tracks you’re playing. I know from 20+ years of experience exactly how a track is slipping out of sync and what to do to recover it. These days there are extra visual tools beyond using your ears so make use of all the tools at your disposal.

Here’s an awesome YouTube tutorial from DJ Phill Harris. Well worth taking a moment to check out the basics of beat matching.

Start off with some easy tracks, just beats and high hats on a loop. Make sure the tracks have different tempos. Listen to how one slowly slips out of sync with the other, use the tools to bring it back in to alignment and adjust the track’s tempo. Practice it until it’s second nature, Try tracks of different tempos once you feel confident.

Don’t rely on hardware to sync your tracks

The sync function is pretty cool, but just with every fancy bit of software it’s only as good as the DJ using it. Any DJ will tell you that syncing doesn’t always work. Sometimes the software gets it wrong, especially on more complex tracks and genres like hip hop or drum and bass.

If you can’t beat match then what will you do when syncing fails you? And rest assured it will one day!

I’ll be honest and say I love the sync button. It saves time for me allowing me to get much more creative with my mixes and loops, but I use it because I know I can beat match well and I know what to do when sync doesn’t work well. I can also get super creative and play tracks out of sync on purpose!

Get the right equipment for your skills

You can spend as a much as you like on a mixer, but that doesn’t mean you should. You want to make sure you get the most out of some entry level kit before splashing the cash.

You’re a beginner, so having an overwhelming number of knobs and dials to play with is not going to help you be better DJ. It’ll only confuse and panic you when you should be learning to beat match and understand your music.

There’s two great reasons to start simple with DJ equipment

Simple DJ equipment costs less

Its an obvious one but when you’re starting out you’re on a tighter budget than when you’re a world famous DJ. So don’t both with all those extra fancy features just yet.

Keep it simple and you’ll save both money and learn faster. A mixer with a decent cross fader, volume controls for high, mid and low frequencies and good headphone cue mixing capabilities is all you need right now.

Similarly digital controllers, vinyl or CD turntables come in all shapes and sizes these days with so many extra features for looping and creative mixing, but right now you don’t need any of that. So don’t waste your money on equipment that wont help you right now.

You will learn much faster with simple DJ equipment

If you keep it simple you’ll learn the basics much MUCH quicker. Its a simple fact because you’re not over-complicating what you’re trying to achieve. Right now its just about getting the basics right and you’ll achieve this in half the time with less distractions.

Its far too easy to get side tracked with loops, filters, hot cues, key syncing, the list is endless. You don’t want any of that right now. You can move on to exploring those when you’re a master at the basics.

I’ve seen plenty of wannabe DJs who still haven’t mastered the basics but think they’re God’s gift to DJ-ing because they can loop and filter tracks beyond all recognition. None of those tricks make you a “good DJ”.

Learn to mix multiple tempos of music early on

Drum and bass is cool, hip hop is cool, but they’re very different styles when it comes to mixing. It’s the tempo that makes all the difference, so whilst you might have a favourite, practice with as many genres as you can. It’s the only way to become a pro!

Mixing 125 BPM house tracks together is absolutely nothing like trying to mix hip hop tracks. There are so many reasons why this is the case too. Some genres have more of a swing to their beats, others have different off beat riff timings. Others play around with keys and vocals in very different ways.

So don’t think for second that because you can mix house tracks together well, you can also mix hip hop, drum and bass, pop, hardcore, or whatever other genres you might want to play.

Learning to mix all different genres will actually help you master your preferred genres. So its a tip well worth taking!

In my experience the lower the tempo the harder it is to mix well. So expect hip hop to be more tricky than drum and bass. Having said that hip hop is really just half the speed of drum and bass so you may find that if you like high tempo music, you’ll master low temp music quickly.

Come back next week and see more back to the basics dj tips on Lets Go Big Tunes blog page

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