Wez G DJ Tips – Number 1 – TIMING
I have been DJing in clubs since 1995 and have a wealth of experience. Shuffle have taught DJing professionally with the Shuffle DJ Academy… As part of this tumblr microblog I want to share some professional DJ Tips… So here we go… Number 1:
A lot of people don’t realise just how essential timing is to DJing. Timing may confuse a few… Timing doesn’t refer to beatmatching the pitch of two records. I’ll deal with that separately. Timing refers in this to ‘cue points’ and when to ‘drop a record’. I say ‘record’ – It could refer to CD or digital – the same applies to whatever your preferred format is. A good DJ needs to have a feel for music, for the right time to make that transition between two tunes. It is the absolute art of DJing, blending or mixing music to give continuity to the dancefloor or home listener. A key point for this transition is when to begin it and when to end it. This is what timing refers to. You’ve seen vinyl DJs moving the record back and forth on the cue point (usually starting beat) and then proceeding to drop the record. This isn’t for show. For every pair of well-selected records there are only a few places where a good transition is possible and normally there is but one unique ‘sweet spot’ a precise moment in time, a microsecond in the duration of the set, where the mix will be perfect. this is what I mean by timing and how essential it is. It does help if the beats and tempo are matching up – synched for a better word… But believe it or not this isn’t as fundamentally important as timing. Without tempo synchronisation the mix will drift and you may end up with that horrid train wreck effect but the mix will sound right to a certain extent. A well-timed mix with poor beatmatching is actually sonically preferable to a poorly timed mix with synched beats.
How do I choose the ‘sweet spot’? Well technically there is no absolute science to this and it is perhaps one of the biggest parts of ‘fun’ for a DJ when he is in the mix… Have I hit the mix properly? Is it going to sound great? You need to have a basic understanding of song structure. Four beats to a bar is pretty much common in all electronic music. You’ll need to be hitting the mix at the start of a bar. But that’s not all. the bars are grouped and the song is patterned. Just try counting beats as you listen to a song. Every 16 and more regularly, every 32 and 64, there will be a major change in the track. Whether it be as simple as a new hi-hat line being introduced or the start of a breakdown, who knows. There are key transitions on every song… and most tracks will be DJ-friendly – that is to say they are built with regular patterned structure. There will be a mix out pint that will indicate the ‘sweet spot’ depending on how long you plan on holding it in the mix. As long as you’ve cued the record you’re introducing properly from the start of a major 32 beat cycle and you drop on this ‘hit point’ the mix should sound OK. You’ll be free to use your crossfader techniques to ‘jazz up’ the mix – or whatever other creative elements you use. I think the sweet spot is reached perfectly when there is no need to even crossfade. The tunes just fit perfectly and as one draws to a close there is a major upbeat lift and change in the new one… No need to even fade. In a typical set you may hit this ‘sweet spot’ only once or twice, even as a top pro. It comes down to hard perseverance and practice. But trust me – pay attention to timing, this mini-theory and put it into proper practice yourself and you will become a better DJ.