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  Basic Mixing


Basic Mixing - Part 4 - Mixing Two Different Tunes Together
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

This is where is gets a lot more involved. Up until now, you've had the safety of knowing that the two tunes you've got on your decks are at an identical pitch - we're now going to cut that safety net by introducing two different tunes, which will have different sounds, and different BPM's.

As before, try to pick two tunes that are pretty simple in their make up. Anything too complicated can throw a curve at you, and you'll be a bit lost for a while. If the tune you had two copies of is pretty simple, and you're not too sick of it, you might want to use that one, then pick another of a simple nature.

We now get to the point of tempo's and BPM's. The one thing I'd say here is that you don't have to work out the BPM's of your tunes if you don't want to. Some people find it pretty handy when learning to know how fast their tunes are. When I started, I counted the BPM's of all the tunes I was going to learn with, just to give me a leg up - then, once I was competent at mixing with known BPM's, I stopped counting, and used my ears.

But, for the purposes of this (rather long) page, we'll go for the fact that you know what the BPM's are (go to my FAQ if you want, where there's a little bit about how to count the pace of your tunes).

Again, for example purposes, let's assume that one of your tunes is 130Bpm and the other 135BPM. Set one of them (lets use the 135) to 0 pitch, and start it.

When you line up and start the 130BPM tune at 0 pitch, you'll notice that the bass beats will start to run loose, and very quickly go out of time. So, what you need to do is increase the pitch of the tune with 130BPM's. You have a choice, you can either roughly set the pitch fader to a point on the scale, let the record play, and see if you've gotten anywhere near the increase you needed, or you get out your calculator, and work out what %age you'd have to increase a 130BPM tune to be running at around 135BPM (just under 4% - I just did it).

It's your choice on how you do it - but I think you'll look a bit odd trying to DJ with a calculator!!

The point is, you know that the 130 tune will have to be increased to get to 135. Chances are though, you're not going to hit the exact point immediately, but you might be close. Same problem as before though, what way are you close? Did you go too fast, or too slow? Well, at this point in your learning, you're still learning. What you have to do really is just listen to what's happening, but that's not the easiest thing to do - at all - when you're beginning.

But, here's what I suggest. You've increased the pitch of the tune. Now line up the bass beat, and start the cued track. Has it gone out of time? Well, we'll assume yes. Have a listen to what's happened first, listen to the bass beats, and try to see if you can tell just by hearing. No? Well, stop the tune and increase the pitch a little. Line up the bass beat, and start the record. Has it gone out of time again? Yes? Well, if it's gone out of time, and it went that way faster than before, then chances are you were already running too fast, and your pitch increase has made the beats slip out of time a lot quicker than before. So, decrease the pitch by the amount you just increased it, and a little more, and start again. And, really, just swing back and forwards, all the time listening to the sounds in your headphones, all the time concentrating on where the bass drums are happening. This is where it is sometimes helpful to tap your feet along with the live tune - you might be able to catch whether you're running too slow or too fast if you do this.

What will probably happen at one point though is that one moment you're running too fast, then the next you're running too slow. What's happening here are that the changes you're making to the pitch control are too large. Try to tap the fader up or down if it's loose enough, or just be REALLY soft about it, so the increases aren't as large as before.

Another thing you might think of doing after your initial attempts at matching the BPM's is not actually stopping and starting the cued record. By now, because of the processes with the two identical tunes, you should be able to fix two tunes back in time when they're out of sync.... I hope. Ok, you're running at a different pitch setting right now, so when you get the tunes in line, they'll start to wander off again, but if you can fix the bass-beats so they coincide, WHILE making the changes to the pitch control, you're learning fast.

It can be a bit like patting your heat and rubbing your stomach at first when you're trying to change the pitch and slow down the record, but remember that if you're having to slow down the record to get it in time, chances are you have to reduce the pitch setting too - so they are related to each other in that sense.

This is the point where I come back in to the "sounds of a beat too fast or too slow" again. You won't have the problem with phasing happening when you use two different tunes, so you should be able to hear the differences the bass drums make a lot better when they are out of sync. Again, take all the time you need to get the tunes lined up - even go back to not using your headphones for the moment, until you're lined up again - then knock the cued tune too slow or too fast (don't touch the pitch control though if you've set it to the right point). Listen to the live sound, and to the sound in your headphones when you've got the cued tune running too slow, then when you've got it running too fast. And I mean listen - try to work out what the sound is - this is the biggest key to fixing the slipping beats - I can't stress this enough.

Once you've had a few goes at this, and managed to get the 130BPM tune to run with the 135BPM tune, now do it all in reverse. Set the 130BPM tune to 0 pitch, and then reduce the pitch of the 135 tune so it will now match the 130BPM of the one playing live.

Now, if you have five or six tunes, try different combinations through them all doing the same thing as above, take your time to get them matched together, then make them go out of time by varying degrees, at first just a little, then a bit more, then a lot - in both directions - and listen and learn the sounds that you're hearing in your headphones.

Remember that you're still learning at this point. Everyone from Tall Paul to Paul Oakenfold had to learn how to do these basics. It IS VERY frustrating at times, and I do sympathise with all the thoughts of pissed off anger running through your head at times, but the truth is, if you practise - a lot, concentrate - a lot, and try to enjoy it - then you'll get there in the end. It's like learning to drive. Right now you're learning how to make the car move, you're changing gear, indicating etc, once you've got these basics down, you can learn to drive. (One of my favourite analogies, it'll probably crop up a lot). And, you wouldn't get into a car the first time and assume you could drive racing cars would you? Well, it's the same with Ding - desire takes you a lot of the way, but don't be downtrodden if you find it takes you while.

In case any part of this has been confusing, and left you wondering what I've been jabbering on about, I've left the original page that I had about basic mixing up here on the site. I think I've gone in more depth on this one than in the old one, but maybe reading it might help some. If there's anything conflicting in it, then I'm sorry - please tell me what's confusing you, and I'll try to sort it. The page it's on is called beginningold.html so click to go!

Until something else pops into my head, this is all I can think of when it comes to writing out how to learn the basics - so please, no more - "I still can't get it, what else can I do?" mails - all I'll say is practise more anyway!!

So, through all the boring practise you've just gone through - you should now be able to match the BPM's of tunes, even if it takes you a while - at least you know how, you should be able to start a tune when you want to - and if you cock it up - be able to fix it, and you should now HATE the tune that you had two copies of.

Great, you can move onto the next level. It's your choice whether you want to look at more complicated mixes, or mixing tunes in at the right point. I'd recommend the latter. A basic mix at the right point is still 95% of what people do - a stunning more gimmicky one is great, but not standard. To get the placing of your mix right, you need to think about the structure of songs. In a pretty handy way I have a page dedicated to this. Either use the navigation bar or click " Structures " to go there.

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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