How to DJ & Mix Songs

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Anyone can call himself a disc jockey by just having the equipment and music. But to be a good mixer and DJ, you have to be able to beat-match properly and program the music so that it sounds like you're fading from one song into the next. Understanding your music and techniques of mixing will help you succeed in becoming a good DJ.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 turntables or CD players
  • DJ mixer
  • Speakers
  • Monitor
  • Music
  • Familiarize yourself with the BPMs (beats per minute) of the music you plan to mix with. The BPMs determine how fast or slow a song is. Understand you can't really mix a song with a low BPM like 75 into a song that is 120 BPMs. It's possible but only professional DJs have that skill.

  • Choose a record that you want to start with and let it play on the left or right turntable (or CD player). Be sure to adjust your monitor level to your preference. The monitor is the speaker that will help you be able to hear your mix as you cross fade.

  • Choose another record with a similar BPM, plus or minus five beats. In other words, if you start with a record that's 110 BPMs, you can choose one that's 105 or 115. The reason being, your turntable or player has a pitch control of +/- 8 and you don't want the song to sound too slow or fast, so five is a good zone to stick with.

  • Put your next song on the other turntable or CD player, but make sure you can only hear it through your headphones by confirming the cross fade is pointing to the song that's playing aloud. Listen to the song in your headphones and find the first "kick" or bass beat. This will be your starting point when you're ready to mix.

  • Queue up the song in your headphones, adjusting the pitch control to match the beat of the song that's playing on the speakers. Don't be afraid to touch the record or platter (CD player) and rewind or fast forward while you're trying to find the right beat match.

  • Find the right spot on the live record and when you're ready to mix, release the record you have in queue and move the cross fader slightly toward the middle. Now you are mixing the two songs together.

  • Listen to the monitor to determine if the beats are matching. Adjust the pitch while the song is playing or touch the record/platter gently to get it to match the record you queued up. If you don't like where you put your mix or if it sounds like a train wreck, push the cross fader back to where it was and start over by letting the original song play and listen to the second song in your headphones.

  • Mix the song again that you've queued up and let the mix ride for at least 32 counts (or measures of the song) and then cross fade out completely so that all you hear is the second record playing.

  • Practice this process until you're comfortable with your mixes. Try different genres of music and BPMs so you can have some versatility with different speeds of music.

  • Listen to other DJs mixing or watch videos of performances. You'll be able to pick up a few tips here and there of how to improve your mixing and become a better DJ.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always remember you are in control of the turntables/CD players. Don't be afraid to experiment or try different techniques, but learn the basics first.

References

  • Photo Credit dj en action image by Jerome Dancette from Fotolia.com
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