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Old 5th November 2008 , 07:32 PM
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Default Secrets to a good mix

well i thought id start this thread so all us Dj's can contribute to it their pearls of wisdom on doing a mix whether it pre meditated or on the fly.

well the obvious one for me would be to know your tracks, by that i mean be familiar with the breakdowns etc, where new elements may be introduced or taken away so for example, you dont get 2 bass lines clashing.

Try and arrange your set to be harmonically pleasing, im only just really getting into this so il let the more experienced may be elaborate on the fundamentals and key features to it but basically each tracks key signature should fit harmonically with the next tracks, as to avoid clashes and that awkward sound.

btw im taking for granted good beat matching is a giveth
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Last edited by sureno; 5th November 2008 at 07:46 PM. . <
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Old 5th November 2008 , 07:47 PM
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Are you talking about a live set or a mix CD? Creating a mix CD is a bit different I think.
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Old 5th November 2008 , 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khazul View Post
Are you talking about a live set or a mix CD? Creating a mix CD is a bit different I think.
both, just state what the tip applies to
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Old 5th November 2008 , 08:13 PM
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Hmmm - OK my random thoughts - (hopefully modz will chip in with his knowledge that I'm sure way way surpasses mine)

Harmonic mixing - with te rising sucess and use of the mixed in key tool - it has become something of an unhealthy obsession I think. People see it as a way to do clean mixes. Personally I think over-use leads to really flat mixing.

Think of times when playing a chord on a keyboard and playing another note or chord with it, sometimes the combined sound make you want to play the next note in a certain direction in musical terms - to 'resolve it', or if you like release the resulting tension - DJing is the same.

A perfect harmonic mix is good when you simple want to use (or rely upon) the energy difference between two tracks to progress (or not), but if you want to tell your own story, make your own journey, then you need to break out of that and go back how chords and keys interact the create tension and releases and how chord and key progressions can elevate a sense of energy, or lower it, or make you feel happier, or more relaxed, or even put you on a downer etc and thats in addition to changes in rhythms, sounds used etc, playing speed within the comfines of a fixed tempo etc.

In that sense I dont think the 'rules' for DJing a complete self contained set or mix CD are any differnt to musical arranging, its just that your working at a higher level over longer timespans - 200+bars of a complete track instead of the 8-64 bars of a musical phrase.

I find one of the best practice thing is not actually to try and create a great set, but actually to just mix random stuff on the fly - it forces you to listen really hard to whats going on, how the music is flowing, or not - I think something on the lines of 'listten to you feelings luke' is very appropriate to DJing - what the music is telling you and how its making you feel is probaby your best guide - especially if you start to feel something is getting stale etc, or catching your atttension in an unpleasent way etc.

When it comes to sets vs mix CDs, then obviously there a difference - in the former you're probably picking up off someone - if they are nice - the finish on something easy mix out of, and you should do the same - its good to know the DJs before and after - what their sets are like etc - if your parts of a team you prep for each other - ie I know a team in London who run a progression from house through to trance over 6 hours or so and they know each others sets very well.

On a mix CD I think the first few minutes are vital - the first track needs to clear away the crap in someones head, genty hook them and guide into the right frame of mind, the next need to keep that attension and grow it in the direction of the rest of the mix - after that - its your story, your journey etc. Ive often seen the thing posted about having really nice short instrumentals following by a nice vocal track on alot of trance mix Cds and I do agree with that.

Anyway - thats the high level stuff I can think of randomly
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Old 5th November 2008 , 08:25 PM
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cool post, yeah i know a duo that discuss how to play out their set before every night played. keep the tips coming
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Old 6th November 2008 , 12:55 AM
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Forgot the most important one - having a girlfriend who happily does all your CD and vinyl ripping, bpm and key analysis for you and music collection organising and even makes shorthand notes into traktor's comment field about stuff when listening - intro/outro types, energy progression/interest level, if its vocal/instrumental, precise genre description etc
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Old 6th November 2008 , 04:06 AM
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Has she got a sister Khazul?

You know, I'm really starting to dislike you....

I bet your gf is a computer with a willy port
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Old 6th November 2008 , 08:45 AM
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Quote:
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Has she got a sister Khazul?

You know, I'm really starting to dislike you....

I bet your gf is a computer with a willy port
+1 over here too LMFAO @ "gf is a comp with a willy port" as long as she's a mac
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Old 6th November 2008 , 10:05 AM
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Great post above from Khazul which has encapsulated the essence of good mixing both for live sets and a CD mix. The importance of building energy, whilst maintaining a journey with variation, colour and emotion, is what makes a great DJ set. Live, never be too clinical by perhaps referring to a harmonic progression sheet, just do as K. suggested above.. 'feel' your way through the set. You'll hear in your cans if a track is gonna clash musically so badly and it'll get bypassed for another tune, perhaps to be used later?

The other factors not mentioned above are if you have for example a non too enthusiastic or responsive crowd. Add that equation into your efforts to mix a decent set and the 'entertainment' factor jumps right above any creative presentation desires of the DJ. Bottom line, you may have to abandon all of the above just to keep the crowd on the dancefloor, yes, sometimes and maybe compromising your self a little. The train may go down a different track, but will still arrive at its destination..

A DJ who can combine all elements covered above in Khazul's post, be technically proficient, and also posses the experience and flexibility to adapt to any given crowd response situation, pretty much has all bases covered.
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Old 6th November 2008 , 12:07 PM
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Thank modz - and you summed up my random ramblings nicely

Sureno - an intesting comment you made:
Quote:
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btw im taking for granted good beat matching is a giveth
Actually I dont think when covering tips you can ever take that for granted - things go wrong and its good to be able to deal with them smoothly in a way that doesnt scream **** up to everyone

OK, so less of an issue with software Djing and never an issue with Live (due to the amount of prep work and resulting rigidity of a set).

The usual argument is know what you are playing inside out etc - thats good when its your set, your journey etc, but have you ever picked up someones elses set for some reason? - including using their crate or otherwise ended up playing blind - ie not knowing what you are playing in enough detail, or even just realised your set isnt the punters set - wrong crowd in or whatever and decided to root around in recesses of your collection that havnt seen the light of day in several years?

So what do you do to deal with it? FX abuse, back off, play with the mess to make it a controlled mess? You have a beat (about half a second or less to decide and do something smoothly...)

For most music then its built of phrases - 8/16/32 bars - cueing off the start of a phrase when the playing track goes through a phrase transition will nearly allways cover you if you listen carefully and get into what your playing, but what if it doesnt? What if you misjudged the phrase start?

Say some producer decided it would be fun to drop in a half beat skip during the intro - ie the kind of gotcha where you sync up beautifully through a nice intro/buildup and it drops a thumping great kick half a beat out relative to the outgoing - oops!

Or more common, transition buildups that fall flat because it was a 24/48 bar phrase.

So what do people do - play wus and stick with transitions no longer that what you had time to listen to when matching up or are you brave and wing it?

And when a train wreck hits - what do you do to get out of it smoothly and make the mix work anyway for various wreck types?

TBH - Ive never had so much fun DJing as when picking up someone elses set and music and just winging it
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Last edited by Khazul; 6th November 2008 at 12:13 PM. . <
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Old 7th November 2008 , 11:07 AM
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Secret to a good mix is it should have a beginning, middle and an end. Slowly build the mix to a climax in the middle section, level out to the end, then chuck a couple of classics of your chosen genre at the end. Job done. Tried and Tested.
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