Beginner Question, how do you pros plan your sets?
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  1. #1
    Tech Wizard
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    Default Beginner Question, how do you pros plan your sets?

    Hi there,

    I got into Djing last October, so I am pretty much a noob. But I have a blast, and through working at the bar of the best club in town got in contact with people who offer me gigs. They loved the sound but told me to work on getting my sets more "logical". I would absolutely LOVE to do that gig (Funktion One sound system, bam!), but here is the thing: apart from some noob mistakes that will hopefully fix themselves eventually (pushing the wrong buttons from time to time), my major problem seems to get a consistent set going. It usually has a good beginning that starts slow and creates tension but after that it's a mess of peaks and slow parts, ups and downs. I will plan my sets in advance, track by track, as long as I still struggle with the technical side. So, how do I improve my sets so they make more sense? It sounds stupid, but I really need hours upon hours to put a 2-hour set together...

    Do I just lack experience and everything will fix itself or do you guys have any special tricks and pro tips for me? Or is everything fine as it is? Looking for feedback, too.

    Here is a link to my soundcloud, containing two recent sets I made for friends:

    http://soundcloud.com/kvadrat-1

    Cheers,

    Kv

  2. #2
    DJTT Administrator del Ritmo padi_04's Avatar
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    know your tracks

  3. #3
    Tech Mentor heaps's Avatar
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    Practice and organization are important, but far as I'm concerned-- Its a live art, the only way to really practice is by doing it.

  4. #4
    Tech Guru Patch's Avatar
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    You don't HAVE to do anything. It will come with time, but there are lots of things you can do to speed it along a little.

    You absolutely HAVE to know all of your tracks inside out. You need to know where the breaks are, where the bass kicks in, where vocals start/end, and so on. This is the most important thing there is to know about DJ'ing.

    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.

    An understanding of Harmonic Mixing is essential. You can build or drop the energy of a mix by dropping down the harmonic scale by 1, 2 or 7 steps in either direction. An essential technique for controlling the level of the mix.
    DJ'ing: 2x1200MK2, DJM 850, Dicers, F1, Zomo MC-1000, Sony MDR-v700, i7 Win 10 HP Envy
    Production: Ableton Live 8 and a mouse, Sennheiser HD400, Sony VAIO

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patch View Post
    You don't HAVE to do anything. It will come with time, but there are lots of things you can do to speed it along a little.

    You absolutely HAVE to know all of your tracks inside out. You need to know where the breaks are, where the bass kicks in, where vocals start/end, and so on. This is the most important thing there is to know about DJ'ing.

    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.

    An understanding of Harmonic Mixing is essential. You can build or drop the energy of a mix by dropping down the harmonic scale by 1, 2 or 7 steps in either direction. An essential technique for controlling the level of the mix.
    THIS!!!!

    He 100% on. and don't be hard on yourself for planning out your sets before hand. I know alot of djs back in the day would never plan sets, but i have always tried to plan something out, espically if its a radio gig, i always plan those ones out very carefully.
    Acer 1803T - Abelton Live 8 - Audio 2 DJ - Korg Micro X - M-Audio USB - KRK Rockit Monitors - Dell Xeon Desktop - Sony MDR headphones - Fruity loops - Acid Pro - Sound Forge

  6. #6
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Patch was mostly right, but

    Quote Originally Posted by Patch View Post
    An understanding of Harmonic Mixing is essential. You can build or drop the energy of a mix by dropping down the harmonic scale by 1, 2 or 7 steps in either direction. An essential technique for controlling the level of the mix.
    This part is complete garbage. Don't worry about shit like that, just listen to the damn tracks. If you can't feel whether or not some track is going to raise, drop, or maintain energy by listening to it for about a bar, then you're not ready to gig.

    Also, don't plan your sets. It's a waste of time.

    There have been several articles on the DJTT main page that explain various related concepts that you should probably go find and read.

  7. #7
    Tech Mentor Halukar's Avatar
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    I used to plan sets, like to the minute..... and suffice to say after just practicing for hours a day i decided that it was pretty much rubbish. Essentially i felt like i had no creativity, no room to play around with, and thats when i pretty much decided i wanted to start controllerism. Now i basically have ten or fifteen tracks that i absolutely love to cut up and play, and the rest i just feel the crowd....

    I agree with understanding how peaks work though, but it's not something you can totally plan out.


    I would just say practice as much as you can. Do you watch tv? then don't until practicing makes you want to barf. Go without sleep for over 18 hours and see where that leads you. What i'm trying to say is you shouldn't let a plan get in the way of the creativity that is supposed to flow out of dj'ing.


    Remember: It's an art-form, our art-form. There is nothing better than making your own path and connections, because the more you nuture them, the easier they are for others to see.

  8. #8
    Tech Guru Patch's Avatar
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    That's actually GOOD harmonic theory. It's all very well knowing/feeling that a given track will drop the energy level - but if you've got a grasp of harmonic theory, you can slowly/quickly lower the energy level in a controlled manner.

    When you pull of a mix that sounds absolutely awesome, you may not know it, but harmonic theory is working it's magic right there.

    Great transitions DO happen by accident occasionally, but they happen a lot more often when you mix harmonically.

    Same as everything, if ever single transition you pull off is harmonic, the listeners will soon get used to it, and it will lose it's impact.

    Harmonic theory is a bonus. Better to know it and not need it, than to need it and not know it...
    DJ'ing: 2x1200MK2, DJM 850, Dicers, F1, Zomo MC-1000, Sony MDR-v700, i7 Win 10 HP Envy
    Production: Ableton Live 8 and a mouse, Sennheiser HD400, Sony VAIO

    Click HERE to D/L Free Tracks from Soundcloud!!!
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mostapha View Post
    Patch was mostly right, but



    This part is complete garbage. Don't worry about shit like that, just listen to the damn tracks. If you can't feel whether or not some track is going to raise, drop, or maintain energy by listening to it for about a bar, then you're not ready to gig.

    Also, don't plan your sets. It's a waste of time.

    There have been several articles on the DJTT main page that explain various related concepts that you should probably go find and read.
    wow, brutal. harmonic mixing is a point of debate im noticing around here. to each there own.


    there's also an article on DJTT about "djing in abelton" and how planning sets should be part of your masterplan.
    Acer 1803T - Abelton Live 8 - Audio 2 DJ - Korg Micro X - M-Audio USB - KRK Rockit Monitors - Dell Xeon Desktop - Sony MDR headphones - Fruity loops - Acid Pro - Sound Forge

  10. #10
    DJTT Administrator del Ritmo padi_04's Avatar
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    yeah, but harmonic detection software aint 100% spot on (more like 60-70). unless you are doing it manually there is no way to be totally safe.

    IMO, get 30 or so tracks per hour, pick maybe the initial 3 tracks and let the flow of the night do the rest. you might have some general idea of the moments you want to create, but don't be too strict in this.
    Last edited by padi_04; 01-23-2011 at 04:50 PM.

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