Beginner Question, how do you pros plan your sets? - Page 3
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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by completej View Post
    that dj notation appears way more complicated that it needs be. by the time you finished notating your collection, you would (should) know your music well enough to know when all that is occurring.
    once you have notation memorized, it really help when mr. tequilia shot shows up and sneaks in his buddy whiskey
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  2. #22
    Tech Guru completej's Avatar
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    tequila rocked me so hard once when i was younger, to this day the idea of a shot makes me feel slightly queasy. :/
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  3. #23
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Groats View Post
    Often, I practice by mixing totally random playlists.
    I don't think you've listened to anything we've said.

    This random playlist thing is the exact opposite of what you should be doing, and it's probably responsible for your sets being all over the place, hence their complaints about your demos.

    Stick to music that, you know, fits together…and you'll learn how to build a set that, you know, fits together. It's not rocket science. Choosing music is more important than any technical skill, and that method of practice ignores it. Wrong. Bad noob. *slaps you with a rolled-up newspaper*

    Quote Originally Posted by completej View Post
    tequila rocked me so hard once when i was younger, to this day the idea of a shot makes me feel slightly queasy. :/
    There are 2 types of people in this world: people who drink tequila and people who can never hear that word again. (jk…there are also people who don't drink)

  4. #24
    Tech Guru Bassline Brine's Avatar
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    Tell a story with your song selection. Just throwing tracks together that sound good on their own, isn't enough. That's one of the most important overall musical lessons that I've picked up, and it's so damned true. You know there's those CD's and Albums and MIxes of whatever type of music that are just ALL good, and even better when listened through. Some just have a couple good tracks, and then others really just speak to you when listened to in full.

    Note: Fear Factory - Obsolete is the album that really just sparked my interest in this concept, back in my "metal" days. Also A Night At The Playboy Mansion - selected and mixed by Dimitri From Paris is another great example of a solid mix.
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  5. #25
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Random funny note, the harmonic mixing page on the djnotation site states exactly the reason I think that harmonic mixing–as it is commonly practiced–is either a troll or a scam.

    Quote Originally Posted by djnotation.org/Harmonic-mixing
    But when the DJ knows that the two tracks have the same key (= are compatible), he can mix drone to drone, melody to drone or even riff to riff.
    Which is wrong. Never mind that the software he suggests only has about a 50% hit rate…there's more to melodies overlapping than simply being in the same key. MiK knows nothing about chord progressions or scales, which are at least as important. When I first read about harmonic mixing, I thought they were right. I soon learned better when I actually tried it, then I learned why when I started playing guitar. I should have been able to figure it out based on the music theory I already knew at that point, but I didn't think about it…their lies are very convincing.

    Also, just a random side note…most dance tracks are going to be something like:
    -<=\#<#\~/#=- for a lot of house,
    -=#\/#<#\~>~>~</<#>#>#>=>->- for modern trance,
    -=\#<#<#\~/#=- for a lot of techno,
    -<=<=<=>=<=\~/#=>=>=>- for more proggy stuff, or
    --======####\/###===-- with some < and > put in either randomly or wherever the producer thought was appropriate for classic trance.

    And dropping the next track after the final breakdown–as he suggests–is what is responsible for trance and most progressive house sets turning into alternating between 2 to 3 minutes of breakdowns and 1 minute of beats for the whole set. It overlaps way too much if the intros are short…I've heard otherwise very good DJs mix such that a track's first breakdown is starting just as the previous track's anthem/hook/lead is letting go, which is boring as sin…you're mixing over the meat of the track.

    -=\#\~/#=--
    …………………-=\#\~/…

    vs.

    -=/#\~/#=--
    ……………….-=\#…

    The difference is subtle, and I don't think this quite expresses it…but, it makes a big difference over the course of a set.

    It works a lot better for the drop (first # or =, depending on the track) to coincide with the end of the last = before a - in the previous track anywhere but at your peak times or at the end of the last # before a = at your peak.

    It also says nothing about the types of melodies or lyrics, which makes it a lot less useful than just thinking verse, chorus, bridge…and doesn't give any information that looking at a waveform or grooves in a record would.

    I obviously love it, but dance music is so incredibly formulaic that I find it hard to believe anyone has a serious need for this stuff…apparently, though, it might make a good teaching tool.

  6. #26
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    I wouldn't consider myself a pro but... the way I plan a set it by grouping my songs into "moods". I'll get all the tracks I want to play first into one messy and unordered playlist. Then I'll group the tracks together according to thieir "mood" (which is basically a mixture of the genre, tempo, key etc). Happy songs go together, dirty tunes go together, sombre reflective tunes go together and so on. Then I build te set by ordering these chunks of grouped tracks in the playlist. Slower and less energetic moods go at the start and faster more enegertic moods are placed toward the end. Once I'm well into my set, o also alternate between different moods to keep it interesting. Eg I'll play 5 or 6 electo tunes and then balance that with some more poppy feel good stuff. To make that transition, I'll find a track which incorporates both moods and use it as a bridge to change the mood of the crowd.

    Hope this helps!
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  7. #27
    Tech Guru 3heads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patch View Post
    You also have to have an understanding of the energy in tracks. You should develop a method of rating your tracks. Most .mp3 tagging software will allow you to rate your tracks (usually out of 5 stars). Again, this will come with time, but a rating method will help you in the mean time.

    DON'T just play a list of stormers. Playing a bunch of tunes at the same energy level will bore everybody. A big mistake that DJ's make is gradually building up to a stonker of a track, and then trying to maintain that level by continually playing stormers.

    You have to think of a set as a journey, maybe even mapping it out on a line graph. Time along x-axis, energy along the y-axis. You have to build up, peak, slow it down a little, calm everything down, then gradually build up again, and so on. Dropping a stormer at any point you like is not a good idea. (But of course - a carefully dropped stormer when no-one is expecting it can have a HUGE impact. Again, knowing when to do this will come with experience).

    Planning a set before hand can help - but it's not always a great idea. You need to ensure you have enough tracks to be able to make decisions on the spot. The rating system will help with this. You may know that the time is right for a 4star stack, but having a list of 10 or 20 4star tracks to pick from will allow you be versatile.

    Well, while the star-rating-system sounds like a great approach at first, I did run into a couple of problems with it. And all of those problems basically boil down to one simple fact: the "energy level" of a track highly depends on the musical context it is played in. Therefore it is impossible (at least for me) to introduce a coherent system for my entire track collection (or better: DJing collection - cutting out those tracks I know, I won't play anyways). Doing it with a "crate" of music specifically compiled for a certain gig/set might work though.

    On the other topic, I totally agree with your statements on the general composition of a set. Gradually build-up, then after a highlight moment drop down, only to build-up again - that's basically the formula which makes up a good DJ set for me (or most bodies of music actually, an album should follow some kind of structure like this, and even individual tracks). When looking for new tunes, it is actually more important to me to find good "fillers" than to find "highlight tracks" - the highlights are easy to spot, but finding the tracks which totally rock but in a more background way, that's the hard part.

    Quote Originally Posted by mostapha View Post
    Fixed. This is the way you should approach sets, no matter what you're using. Planning a set is the same whether you're using Vinyl or CDJs or Traktor or Live or an Elektron Octatrack. You figure out what music you have; you figure out the feeling you're going for; you pare down your tracks; you find a starting point; and you hope you remember your tracks well enough to know what comes next and to not forget about that perfect track.
    This is basically the approach I take. I go through my collection looking for tracks which fit the sound I have in mind for a certain set, then put those in a "crate playlist". I think something like 100-120 tracks for a 1-2h set is a fair size, enough to have a range of options to choose from, but not so much to totally overwhelm you. Because the larger your "crate" is, the more comes into play what I marked in bold.

    Quote Originally Posted by Porkie View Post
    So I'd like to take the rating system as a means to develop set lists or preping for set lists and elaborate on it.

    Would you use 1-5 stars to list 5 seperate levels of music? if not, what criteria would do you use to put them into each rating?
    As I said above, as much as I liked the idea at first (or still like to a certain extent), I still discarded it after a rather short period for the reasons mentioned above.

    Quote Originally Posted by mostapha View Post
    Stick to music that, you know, fits together…and you'll learn how to build a set that, you know, fits together. It's not rocket science. Choosing music is more important than any technical skill, and that method of practice ignores it. Wrong. Bad noob. *slaps you with a rolled-up newspaper*
    Absolutely, song selection is the single most important thing when DJing, technical stuff clearly comes second, and even then - I don't really understand what kind of technique we're talking about here. I mean, mixing from one synched track into another isn't exactly that complicated, you just align them right and then slowly increasing the volume on the new track while reducing volume on the old one, add a bit of EQ and there you go. Apart from getting to know the behavior of one's mixer I don't see anything "technical" on there. Well, maybe the aligning of the tracks to get a good "mixpoint" might be a little obstacle at first, but then again - if one can't do that, there's more important stuff to worry about than "mixing technique". Go listen to music and figure out when to mix - as stereo-typical as most of EDM is, that's a rather obvious thing to observe.

    Quote Originally Posted by fellis View Post
    I wouldn't consider myself a pro but... the way I plan a set it by grouping my songs into "moods". I'll get all the tracks I want to play first into one messy and unordered playlist. Then I'll group the tracks together according to thieir "mood" (which is basically a mixture of the genre, tempo, key etc). Happy songs go together, dirty tunes go together, sombre reflective tunes go together and so on. Then I build te set by ordering these chunks of grouped tracks in the playlist. Slower and less energetic moods go at the start and faster more enegertic moods are placed toward the end. Once I'm well into my set, o also alternate between different moods to keep it interesting. Eg I'll play 5 or 6 electo tunes and then balance that with some more poppy feel good stuff. To make that transition, I'll find a track which incorporates both moods and use it as a bridge to change the mood of the crowd.

    Hope this helps!
    I tried something along those lines as well and - as with the star ratings - came to the conclusion that it didn't work universally for me (but that might be due to my system of classification). I basically sorted tracks into three categories: warm-up, peaktime, afterhour (with the possibility to put tracks into more than one of those categories), just by my associations I had while listening (I try to imagine myself dancing to that tune and figure out which part of the night that would be most likely to happen). And again I found it too constricting, there's always tracks from one of the other groups which would go nicely with the set at that moment. But I might have to think up and test out other (and/or more) categories.
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  8. #28
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3heads View Post
    Absolutely, song selection is the single most important thing when DJing, technical stuff clearly comes second, and even then - I don't really understand what kind of technique we're talking about here. I mean, mixing from one synched track into another isn't exactly that complicated, you just align them right and then slowly increasing the volume on the new track while reducing volume on the old one, add a bit of EQ and there you go. Apart from getting to know the behavior of one's mixer I don't see anything "technical" on there. Well, maybe the aligning of the tracks to get a good "mixpoint" might be a little obstacle at first, but then again - if one can't do that, there's more important stuff to worry about than "mixing technique". Go listen to music and figure out when to mix - as stereo-typical as most of EDM is, that's a rather obvious thing to observe.
    First, I can't believe I didn't get flamed yet for the newspaper thing.

    Second, +1. Scratching as a performance adds harmonic content and can be done really well. Controllerist techniques…well…they mostly piss me off. Effects can be useful. When it comes to mixing, I think it's 100% phrase matching (with beat matching a prerequisite for a lot of genres).

    I have done hour-long mixes in Ableton Live that used absolutely no effects, EQing, or volume faders. No automation. No live recording. Imagine doing a full DJ set without ever touching a mixer…just leaving the channels open and the crossfader in the middle. Well, okay…I did level the tracks using the gain knob…but it didn't change for any track at any point during the mix.

    One of them included mashups of multiple remixes of the same track. Most of them were harmonically correct based on my ears using Live's transpose knob. And some of them included (software) drum machines.

    And in addition to doing it in the studio, I've done it live (as in…with an audience) on more than one occasion.

    I have not heard a single word of negative criticism on any of them, except my ex girlfriend didn't like one laidback luke track I played once in an electro set.

    One of them is the breaks mix up on my mixcloud. That's right…breaks. You guys arguing about whether or not advanced techniques are necessary and wondering how people mix without EQs…it's about gain staging, song selection, and phrase matching. That's it. Do those first, and everything else is icing.

  9. #29
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    "doing a full DJ set without ever touching a mixer"

    That's a very puristic approach. Although I agree that those technical tricks like fx or even cue point juggling tends to get boring really quick and should be kept to a minimum, there is a point where not using some of those perks makes things painful.

    and I want to keep my arcade buttons.

    don't slap the noob, mostapha! I promise I will from this moment on never again play those random sets. You're totally right. I thought making progress on the technical side would help to loosen up a little and enable me to concentrate on the music more. But I forgot to learn how to arrange the damn songs in a set.

  10. #30
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    when i mix

    all i use are the cue buttons (not numbered ones. just the normal one that leaves a Little blue triangle) the jog wheels and my mouse.

    i use my mouse the most though, you know. it feels better for the EQ and FX n' stuff.






    is my trolling even on topic?
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