What does a DJ do, really?
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  1. #1
    Tech Wizard Warwolt's Avatar
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    Default What does a DJ do, really?

    This is something that's gone back and forth in the back of my mind for the past several months. I come from a musician background, and I'm trying to develope some kind of neat way of performing music from my laptops using controllers and so on. The usual stuff, and because of this I naturally ended up on this site, reading up alot on the whole laptop-performance field through the articles on the blogg. But since a lot of the stuff is mostly directed towards DJs, a lot of articles are pretty unrelevant to me.

    I get that a DJs job is to "act as a filter" for music, as in, he goes out and finds the music that is good and fresh, packages the new hot tracks in a way that keeps exciment through out the whole listeningexperience and makes sure people at the party/club have a good time.

    But what does a DJ do, really? I mean what is the difference between a good and a bad DJ? Is it the music he plays, in what order he plays it? The transitions he makes between different songs?

    The reason I'm asking this is because I've always been curious about DJing, partly due to this site and partly because I feel that me being a person who devotes a huge part of my sparetime searching for new music to listen to just as well could devote some time to present all that music in a nice way for other people to listen to.

    Maybe I should just pick up a beginners guide to DJing.

  2. #2
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    sorry about the subtitles, but this should help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTHbc...774811&index=9

    A DJ listens to a lot of music and plays the correct tracks in a (hopefully) unique and creative way to create an enjoyable mood for a given party. The bad ones make people run away from the dance floor or accept the fact that "DJs suck and it's just the way it is at weddings," and good ones lead to spiritual events and can influence the development of music as a whole.

  3. #3
    DJTT Dominator JesC's Avatar
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    A DJ is a musical conductor that knows what to play and how to play it and when to play it.
    Controllerist: Think different | SoundCloud | MixCloud | Twitter |

  4. #4
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    in the broadest sense: a good dj entertains listeners by playing an arrangement of many songs in an appealing combination.

    in the more detailed sense, you can't really pinpoint it any further without first recognizing that there are many different types of audiences which in turn means there are many different types of djs.

    You've got Radio DJs, Wedding DJs, Studio DJs, Club DJs, Rave DJs, Bar DJs, all of them usually specializing in certain genres of music.
    Then you have DJs who take mixing music to another level by creating new music using their mixing tools such as Turntablists, Controllerists, Live PA Artists.

    Like any creative craft you have full-time professionals, you have weekend warriors and you have gearheads and hobbyists.

    To outsiders, this whole game might seem really shallow but it's only as deep as you want to dive into it - it can be a very deep and complex craft if you want to take it there..... or it can be as simple as playing other people's music.

  5. #5
    Tech Guru kiss-o-matic's Avatar
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    I can sum it up in one sentence, quoted by an old friend of mine:

    Quote Originally Posted by an old friend of mine
    You pick the tunes, then you play them. If you pick crap tunes, you're a crap DJ.
    Implied: if you play them like crap, you're also a crap DJ.

    There is indeed an art form to making a really, really sick mix. Otherwise, I'd have not gone crazy on the dance floor all these years. Watching a really technical DJ on vinyl back in the day, like Jeff Mills, was absolutely mind blowing. Today, there's a lot of gadgets involved but it's still pretty fucking awesome... just a bit different.

    it's only as deep as you want to dive into it - it can be a very deep and complex craft if you want to take it there..... or it can be as simple as playing other people's music.
    The foreword to DJing 101. Well stated.

  6. #6
    Filterkat
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    yeah DJing is a lot about the right track selection and setting the mood, i went on a bit of a rant yesterday in another post and talked about opening DJ's playing nothing but bangers. This to me, pisses me off. An opening DJ needs to start things lightly to get people into the mood, and start drinking, and slowly work up the set so when the headliner or support come on, theyre ready to progress the night to the next level. Opening DJ's that go out and play nothing but high-intensity peak time songs are crap DJ's IMO. My worst 2 experiences at a residency i had back in Australia were when this happened, the opener played nothing but "big" tracks and ended up playing a few of my "highlight" songs, all before 11 oclock.

    A peaktime DJ needs to get people in the mood to dance, because by midnight most people are already drunk and want to get on the D-floor, but also needs to give them some time to wind down and go fetch a few drinks occasionally. A good peaktime DJ will "tell a story" with his sets and have "highs" and "lows" in his set. Kind of like a book...



    thats just a pic of how a story or narrative should be told but i think the same applys to DJ'ing. A set should have ocasional "mini peaks", and then wind down a little, and then be bought back up further again...

    Im a DJ/producer, so occasionally i like to throw in one or 2 of my own tracks into a set, but i also have a large collection of loops/grooves/oneshots, either that i made myself, or that ive recorded from other songs, that i like to incorporate into sets to keep things interesting. People love hearing things they know and or can relate to, but they also love it when you put a new twist on things. Thats why you have a lot of remixes, and the ability to remix things live is a good skill to have... The thing i love about DJing is that no 2 DJ's are going to have completely the same style, method, or structure to each other, and this keeps things interesting, and can make the difference between a good dj, and a great dj... or a completely suckass DJ occasionally.

    A good DJ can read the crowd, and can adjust his set at any particular time, to suit the dancefloor, or whats going on, and understands the dancefloor/bar rotation cycle. Theres nothing wrong with "pre programing" a set, hell i do it all the time, and it makes my sets seem that much more polished, but in saying that, you have to be able to adapt aswel at any given time. The club owner is gonna be pretty pissed if hes not makin much money at the bar because everyone is allways on the dancefloor, so its good to throw in a few "filler" tracks every now and then to give people a break and a chance to drink, while all the same, keeping the mood and pace of the particular time of night. Also he wont be too impressed if no one is dancing either.

    So basically DJ's share their knowledge and love for music, and present it in an interesting and unique way, that "hopefully" the crowd can enjoy.

  7. #7
    Tech Wizard Warwolt's Avatar
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    Hm, interesting read. Might try some DJing, eventually. Basically I should just grab some tracks I think are good and that I think people at the party will think are good and try to just play them in a neat way. Right, got it.

    Being kid and all, and not much of a partygoer, it would seem like I'd perhaps need to grab some experience on that front as well?

    Also, sorry for the pretty basic-knowledge questions, but I really have no idea where do dive into this kind of stuff to get deep.

  8. #8
    Tech Guru BradCee's Avatar
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    show up
    play music
    get drunk
    get bitches
    get paid


    Win 7 / 2x Reloop Contour / Numark M6 /Traktor Pro 2.5
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  9. #9
    Filterkat
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    yea definately try and get experience in front of a crowd ASAP if your serious about it. Doesnt matter if its at a party, or wherever, just as long as its in front of people. i know too many friends and DJ's that have spent too long in the bedroom mixing, and wouldnt know what to do in front of a crowd or freak out.

    I had this happen with one of my good mates. He did some AWESOME mixes and productions, so i invited him to play an opening slot at my club night. He had never played in front of a descent crowd at all, and had only done one small house party. But all the mixes he showed me were really solid, and i had been and mixed with him at his house a few times, so i knew he knew what he was doing behind the decks. Anyway, come the night... and its his turn to go on, and he starts freaking out and having a panic attack. the first few mixes were train-wrecks, but by about half way through his set, he seemed to be doing a lot better. Needless to say, he told me he was scared shitless, and froze up and didnt know what to do for the first half hour.

    He ended up playing the open slots at my nights on a regular basis, because he was a good mate, and i really wanted him to get more confident in front of a crowd, so i sorta threw him in the deep end to learn to swim so to speak, but the first few times, the mixes at the beginning of the set were a little hairy at times, until he started to relax.

    Now hes currently taken over my residency in australia, since ive moved to europe and im glad to hear hes doing really well, but, i definately recommend getting experience playing in front of a crowd ASAP. The longer you wait, the harder its going to be, and the more of a complex you are going to create about playing in front of people.

  10. #10
    Filterkat
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradCee View Post
    show up
    play music
    get drunk
    get bitches
    get paid

    HAHA brad, ur comments allways make me laugh...

    Its kinda like that tho once your used to it

    best carreer/lifestyle out there IMO...

    Just have to fend off a few douchebags/skanks occasionally...

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