In this article, I try to explain a few bases about the operation of the mixer system and what is it about, with a computer and its corresponding software. I explain the typical characteristics of these programs and their form of relevant but, I think we are in a moment where there is a mixture between the users that have knowledge about computing and they want to learn new things, with experienced DJ’s whose find in computers a new world but with wide musical knowledge , and now is the time for the both groups to have a little break for clarify concepts.
The first thing we need to know is that on top of everything is music, and the most important thing for a DJ is to create a right atmosphere for dancers, to enjoy it, etc… so the system that I use it’s secondary (in my opinion), there are big DJ’s who mix with LP, with CD chargers and even with tapes.
In the past computers were installed in different scope in life and music was one of them, then now it is a tool and you must be a good user. When I listen to a set from another DJ, I don’t investigate if it’s made with charger, with LP or Singles or with computers, simply I leave the music takes control of myself and see if it can excite me or not, it depends on the style, from the taste and the ability of the DJ.
Well, we have to know that, when we work with a PC, we need to adapt and learn new techniques and ways of working, each system have his own technique, the LP has one, CD another one and so on, but really we need to lose the fear because the advantages are enormous.
One of the main advantages of working with a PC is the capacity of organization and storage, we can organize our music case, in different sets, styles, groups, albums… and like this, always have it ready.
Tractor Pro DataBase, click to enlarge.
Another advantage of the computers is the big ammount of information that we can get from our music files, information like the artist, album, time (BPM), musical notes from the song, “bitrate”, etc…and all of this can help you to prepare and create one set. For this, each program offers different tools of analysis and it’s a something that we need to get used to, analyze your music for your own benefit and take full advantages.
Serato ITCH DataBase, click for enlarge.
Welcome to the computers world, bits, digital audio, tempo control and transport,etc…there are usefull tools that can open the doors of a lot of creative possibilities, for this, we must learn the characteristics of the audio programs. We must get used to work with good quality files, without lossings (Wav, Aiff, Ogg) and if we work with MP3, we must do it with the higher bitrate (320Kbps). We need to know the tempo of the files that we mix because all the computers have limits although PC’s are accurately and flexible.
It’s hardly impossible to mix one track with 78 bpm with another one with 142 bpm, the same like with CD charger. For this we have “the pitch”, one slip bar that allows you to accelerate or brake tracks to synchronize them, normally the pitch are 10 % defined more or less which means that a track of 142 bpm can we mixed with another in a range between 154 o 138 bpm, without touching the pitch from the main track. Then, if we reduce or increase the pitch from the main track to a 142 bpm, we increase the range of bpm’s in which we can mix.
A lot of programs offer us the possibility to increase this rank until 20 or 30 % and more, but the more you increase this edge the less the accuracy will be at the moment of mixing.
Two songs synchronized with Serato ITCH, click to enlarge.
I know what’s enjoying when I see another DJ playing that I like so when I am playing in a set, I’m waiting to give the same joy, I’m not worried only on balancing the tracks and if they are their unsynchronized, I prefer to wait for the structure, for creating an atmosphere and progression and, in fact, the computer gives me more freedom for doing this.
I really think it’s ridiculous when people said me “computers mixes alone”, computers are only a tool and the DJ is who decide how and what comes in the track, it’s a DJ who creates progress for making people taking part of the set and enjoy it, it’s the DJ who decides which track comes in each moment. For example, it’s like discussing how we can sow a field, with animals or with machines, when the most important thing is to know what do you want to sow, when and how you can care of it to collect a good harvest. Obviously, with animals we can sow fields but we wait for a long time and its physically exhausting..( what comparison with agriculture and the world of computers, but I think you can understand me…)
In fact, I think it’s the time to see the tools like how each artist uses and take attention to the final result, the final masterpiece work.
Two synchronized songs with Virtual DJ, click for enlarge.
This is one of the big advantages to mix music with PC, not only we can mix songs, otherwise you can learn. With the right necessary techniques and with the creativity like our allied, we can make our personal touch at our sessions and create new things. We have elements like “Loops, Samples and different types of effects and filters…from here to infinite…
Until here this introduction, now it’s time to get to the bottom characteristics of each program and, this are things that I’ll want to explain in a succession of articles. I think the concept of the profession climbed to the evolution few years ago, although this profession is relativity new. From the turntables and LP’s since CD charger and actually, the sets from the computers and computers with the other previous two together. Because we can use chargers in those programs overall with the PC or turntable, with the computers ( with systems like Tractor Scratch, Serato Scratch, Ms Pinky), this is only the beginning.
Actually, there exist new types of mix like Ableton Live, which allow us to create our live sessions, and the other one, easily, don’t pass me in my mind now. For this I think that we always are to be interested in learning new things and have an opened mind to either option to let us develop our creativity.
In the next article, I’ll do a glossary with the main concepts as much as from the world of the computing and from the main programs and their characteristics, we can learn to “read” one form of wave and one shown song in the programs that I mean before.
If you have themes that you think I must explain or increase one of them, or clarify, please, tell me our comments.
PD: I know you are a lot of people that were waiting answers regarding your doubts, I’ll try to help you more quickly but you need patience because lately, I don’t have plenty of time for the web page.