DJ mixing is an art. You need to master the skill with consistent practice and learn from each performance. Adopting a creative approach can make you a crowd-pleaser. To be the best DJ, you must deliver your best mix. Ronald Ross, writer of loudbeats.org provides us with the top 10 pro-tips to sharpen your mixing skills and set the party roaring.
Know your audience
Whether you are playing live or recording for an online radio-show, the groove must match the party. A Saturday night club mix should be hip and upbeat. A workout mix should be intense and high-tempo. Carefully choose the tracks and the vibe for your music, and feel the connection with your audience.
Check your DJ set. Get the playlist right, better still to organize the playlist by genre. Plan your performance and practice. At the final show, keep the signal levels to green. Red lights mean terrible sound output.
Strategic use of delay and scratching
Varying the delay time and tweaking the EQ can be sensational. Scratching on the turntable on the right measure gets the excitement high in the club.
Usually, DJs bring down faders and transition between tracks. Sometimes while transitioning, the vocals get messed up. This is a big NO. Learn to transition with cross-faders simultaneously with channel-faders. This combination will allow for more control with EQ and volume. Try to introduce a twist in the mix by adding snippets from tracks as teasers.
Flow of energy
Being a DJ, you are the life of the party. Hit the dance-floor with a thoughtful selection and arrangement of tracks that fuel the energy of the mix. Determine the direction that the energy of your mix takes. There many different ways to manage the energy of your mix.
Understand the phrasing of your tracks. Phrasing stands for the musical structure of any track. A track is usually made of 8, 16 or 32 measure phrases, and there are audible cues for you to pick-up this phrasing. When the phrases of two tracks are aligned, they sound like they blend perfectly. Conclude the measure in one phrase of one track before mixing the next track. Never cut a track too soon or too late. Also, be wary of the length of a transition. It repays to be comfortable with the phrasing of the tracks while you line them up so that the blending is flawless.
Key to your success
A DJ mix that lacks harmony is cacophony. Examine the keys of the songs in a playlist, and blend those that follow similar notes. Complementary tracks can be mixed promptly and accurately with software. Keys signatures of tracks can be analyzed and organized with software like Mixedinkey.
Show your creativity
Try to evolve a personal style by using two free channels on the DJ mixer. For more versatility, you can sync the controller with software. There are many ways you can experiment with the DJ mixer and a controller, and showcase your distinct DJing style.
The length of your performance should determine the structure of your DJ mix. You may be leading the club to sunrise, or you may be mixing for the opening hour. Plan your mix according to the time slot and duration.
Presentation and attitude
As you pump up the club with the edgiest mix, don’t forget that you are the star. Talk to the crowds and please them. While performing live, be flexible with the tracks. Read the mood of the party. Even if you are not face to face with your audience, it is important to make a good impression. For instance, if you are recording a track for distribution, make sure to put a memorable title or suitable artwork for the cover.
These are the most practical pointers for crafting the best DJ mixes. However, moderation should be your mantra. Too many effects and loops sound chaotic. If you record a practice session and listen to it, you will be able to recognize habitual errors and make improvements in your technique.
About the Author
Ronald Ross is a musician and a freelance writer who contributes regularly at loudbeats.org. He is savvy about DJ equipment and software and loves to tinker with vinyl records.