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  Basic Mixing


Basic Mixing - Part 1 - The Beginning
Author: DJ Recess

Part 1 - The Beginning
Part 2 - The Next Bit
Part 3 - Introducing Your Headphones To The Process
Part 4 - Mixing Two Different Tunes Together
Part 5 - Mixing Using CD's

There's no right or wrong way to learn how to DJ. There's only your own way. This is my way of learning from the beginning - which I've used to teach other people, and it's worked. With this page, I can go through some of the things you'll have to work through in order to be able to mix, but all I can do is advise. What's on this page is only 5% of what you'll need - the other 95% is understanding, concentration, practise, and practise - and practise!!

So. You've worked out how to plug everything up, and you've stuck on a couple of tunes, thinking it's an easy thing to do, realised it isn't - had a good think about whether the £600 you've just spent was a good idea. Don't worry. It still is.
What I advise you to do when starting right from the beginning is to go out and buy two copies of the same record. It doesn't 'really' matter what one it is, but personally, I recommend something that's very simple. Dutch Trance isn't the easiest thing to learn on because it's really involved, and sometimes it's hard to hear the actual beats. I've always found from teaching other people to mix that Paul Van Dyk's tunes are perfect for learning, if only because his bass drums are really solid, and really dominant - and as it's the bass drums you'll be looking for, this is something that can really help you out. It's a nice idea to find a tune that doesn't have a beatless intro - you will get more luck out of one that starts immediately into the beats.

Put both copies of the records onto your decks, and set the pitch to 0 (on most decks, a green light will come on to let you know it's at 0 and it'll probably click into place - useful now, a right pain in the arse in the future!!) The point of this is so that both tunes will always be playing at the same tempo, so you don't have to worry about the pitch control. Even on the most basic of decks, 0 pitch is always the same (well, not always, but in 90% of the cases)

Set your mixer up so that the channel faders are both up and the cross fader is in the middle. This means you'll hear both tunes at full volume when they're playing. Don't worry about your headphones for the moment.

Go to one of your decks, and put the needle on the record near the beginning, and let it play. When you hear the first beat, put your finger on the outside of the record (about two cm in from the edge), and play it backwards until you pass the beginning of that first beat. (You can put the needle on at the very edge of the vinyl and wind forwards if you want - but I'll stick with the way I've just mentioned).

Now (with your finger still on the record) wind the record forward a bit, until you hear the bass beat. Then go back a bit until you've hit the very beginning of the beat again. Sometimes it's nice to do a small 'scratch' with the tune, rocking back and forth over the beat so you're comfortable with where it is.

Now press stop, leaving the needle just before the beat. Start the other deck and let it play. Listen to it and hear where the bass beats are occurring (not a hard thing to do in most music!). If you want to tap your foot, nod your head or even say "boom, boom, boom, boom" as the beat occurs, please do - just don't do the last one if you're ever working anywhere!

Go back to the stopped deck. Put your finger on it, holding it still, and press start. The deck should be running underneath the stopped record. If it's not, shame on you for buying cheap decks!!

So. What we have now is one tune playing out through your amp right now, and the other one stopped by your finger. Go back to the idea of rocking the beat on the one that's stopped, and try to rock it back and forth in time with the record that's playing (let it go forwards on one bass beat, then pull it backwards through the next bass beat).

Then, when you feel comfortable,

Let go...

Chances are you haven't let it go at a point in the tune where everything will match audibly, but if the bass drums are occurring at the same time, well done, that's all that matters for now.

However, a few things might have now happened.

1) You let go perfectly in time (well done smart ass... do it again).
2) You let go too early. (Stop the tune, wind it back, and try again)
3) You let go too late. (See above).

Number 2 and 3 above are common problems. You'll either have choked at doing it and let go too soon or late, or maybe it's just that the deck wasn't running at full speed when you let go, so though you let go in time, it's not at the same speed as the other deck, and thus is out of time. What to do if you suspect this is to give the record a light push when you let go, sending the deck up to the correct speed - and hopefully making both beats happen at the same time.

Keep at it. Restart when you cock up, and keep doing it until you're comfortable with it, and can do it nearly everytime.

The next part of this beginning stage is being able to fix this little errors without stopping the deck and starting over. It's a bit difficult, because you have to know what you've done wrong, but the application is easy enough.

There are a few methods to what I'm about to write, pick the one that's best for you.

If you've started the beat too soon, and it's running ahead of the one that has been playing, then you need to slow the deck down a bit. By far the safest and easiest way of doing this is to rest your finger on the side of the deck plate lightly (where the bumpy bits are) and apply a little pressure to slow the deck down very slightly. When you've slowed it down so the beats are aligned (playing at the same time), take your finger away.

If you've not started the beat fast enough, and it's now lagging behind the other one, you need to speed the deck up slightly. The way I do this is to place my finger on the label of the record, and 'help' it turn a little faster. There are a couple of problems that can be associated with this though. 1) That you thump your finger onto the record, and make the needle jump (easily fixed, don't do it again!) and 2) that with your finger on the record, if you're not helping it round fast enough, you'll actually be SLOWING down the deck, something you DON'T want to do. Just make sure to get it right.

(Here are the other methods)

1) Instead of using the label of the record to turn the record faster, grip the centre spindle of the deck and turn that - a lot of people do it that way, so maybe it works best for you

2) Instead of touching the side of the deck to slow it down or pushing the label to make it go faster, a lot of people just use the pitch fader, decrease/increase the pitch until the records are in time, then return it to the original position. The only problem with this is that it's tricky to get the pitch fader EXACTLY back to the original position - unless that position was the 0 pitch mark of course.

Choose whatever method you wish - it is up to you.

Seems pretty basic and easy so far, doesn't it? Well, there are two reasons for learning this part of DJing. The first is that it's vital that you can start records at the right time and get things happening the way you want them to at the points you want them to. The other point of this is that it gets you familiar with the feel of touching your records (remember, your parents have probably told you for years not to touch the main part of a record, just the edges), it teaches you the feel of the deck fighting against you when you're trying to hold the record stopped, and just gets you used to the feeling of it all.

Author: DJ Recess

Part 1 - The Beginning
Part 2 - The Next Bit
Part 3 - Introducing Your Headphones To The Process
Part 4 - Mixing Two Different Tunes Together
Part 5 - Mixing Using CD's

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