10 Essentials To Consider When Learning How To DJMonday, January 10, 2011 14:54
1. Use actual record playing turn tables with as many actual records as possible (and also Serato in this day and time) versus using CDJs and CDs. However, still know how to operate CDJs in case you have to use them or just can’t resist the temptation to buy them. Bare in mind that controllers like the NS7 are becoming popular as well, so know how to use them too. Whatever the case, don’t ever forget to respect where the art came from. It’s called Disc Jockeying not MP3 Jockeying.
2. Actually know, respect, and enjoy diverse genres of music. By doing this you’ll discover that any music can be blended together simply by actually appreciating music versus only listening to what the masses like. Also the more diverse you are the more places you can be hired to DJ. Think about it, can a DJ do a party at a rave scene if he or she doesn’t know jungle, techno, drum and bass, or funky house? Could an African living in America like myself DJ in Africa if I didn’t know zilizopendwa, bongo, kwaito, lingala, soukous, afro beat, hip life, highlife, zouk, rumba, or other genres from that continent? Knowing music is half the battle.
3. Learn how to manually calculate the Beats Per Minute (BPM) of a song. You do this by counting the amount of beats for a total of 10 seconds and then multiply this figure by six. That formulated value is the BPM of the song. This will come in handy when beat matching if you ever have a song and you don’t know the BPM.
4. Know how to blend properly so that (a) the music flows without abrupt changes that aren’t on beat, and (b) blend at the beginning of a set of even numbered bars (in other words, a chorus is usually four bars, so blend at the beginning of a chorus or at the middle of the chorus two bars into it).
5. When deciding where to begin a blend use the versus and choruses as well as time as a guide. When blending Hip Hop, for example, the second chorus is your point of reference for blending, which usually comes at around the two minute mark. When blending dance genres such as house, this point of reference can be lengthened considering the perennial nature of the genre. This keeps the party flowing and prevents people from getting bored by dancing to the same song for too long.
6. Since you’ll potentially be using DJ software don’t learn to blend by looking at the audio waves before knowing how to blend by using strictly your ears. Your ears tell you more than the computer screen so don’t let the screen deceive you by virtualizing your own divine given ability. Also if the computer ever goes down or you’re in a situation where you don’t have a computer your ears are what guide you. To assist in achieving this task (with or without the screen), know how to use the headphones section of your mixer properly, the pitch adjustment on the turntable, and know how to lightly push the record forward to speed it up or slow it down by lightly pressing a finger against the grooves in the turntable plate. This will be most essential when blending genres recorded using live instruments.
7. Learn how to use the equalizer (EQ) on your mixer. The EQ is the master of all blending when it comes to making smooth blends. You want to be able to blend so well that everything sounds like one continuous song. You’ll know you’ve mastered EQing when the audience can’t tell where one song ends and where one begins until the blend is complete. Also familiarize yourself with the cross fader settings so you know which setting is appropriate for the blending technique you desire to use.
8. Don’t scratch all the time while spinning in a party. Scratching is actually a blending technique more than it is for show. People don’t dance to you scratching so you would just be disturbing the dance floor. Use scratching as a compliment to your blend and if you desire to show off your turntablist skills then save all the fancy stuff for mix tapes or DJ battles (or Hip Hop parties where cats do nothing but hold up the damn wall). Otherwise, focus on making people dance, i.e. focus on making smooth blends.
9. Have the confidence to break new songs versus playing what others already play or what the listeners already know.
10. Rule number one though I’ve listed it last is NEVER GIVE UP! Respect the craft enough to know that you need time to learn just like any other profession. Therefore, don’t try to blow up over night and claim that you’re a real DJ. Like anything else in life, make a good first impression when you step foot behind the DJ booth.
DJ Fourth Wurld