Using the BPM counter...would you call it 'cheating'?
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  1. #1
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    Default Using the BPM counter...would you call it 'cheating'?

    Hi guys,

    I've been trying to train my ears to mix better and I thought one of the best things to do in Traktor would be to turn off the BPM counter and phase meter in order to try and really get my ears to do all the work.

    However, I was wondering - much like the sync button debate, would you guys say that using the BPM counter is 'cheating'? I figure it takes a good deal of effort out of beat matching, but if technology is going that way, why not use it, right?

    I'd be interested to hear your opinions.

  2. #2
    DJTT Tankard fullenglishpint's Avatar
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    No. Vinyl jocks used to count the BPM and label their records before we even had CDJs. Making life a little easier for yourself isn't the same as cheating.
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  3. #3
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    Sorry, I should have made this a little clearer - I mean the moving BPM counter that adjusts itself when you change the tempo slider.

  4. #4
    Tech Guru dope's Avatar
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    Beatmatching = finding the other track matching bpm by ear and then play tracks in phase.

    Since playing 2 tracks with the same bpm in phase by ear is a joke (no offence intended but really.. childplay) i don't consider using bpm counter "beatmatching". It's just the same as sync.

    BUT, it's music, it's subjective. Therefore there are no rules, and no so-called "cheating". You play the way you want to.
    Either you gain a skill that will help your whole carreer, and you do it entirely, or you go the easy way with today technologies.

    I don't blame at all, but if I were you I would learn proper beatmatching (meaning without counters), even if you don't use it.
    This will help if the laptop dies at a gig

  5. #5
    Tech Mentor Frank112916's Avatar
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    No...what is all this talk about "cheating." I think there is two mindsets among DJs that would go a long way in explaining this mentality. This applies generally to all forms of art in which one is also tasked to entertain an outside group of individuals.

    1) There is the mindset that DJing is an art form where you are sampling different compositions to create your own composition and take patrons on a aural journey which contains different types of feelings, emotions, and perceptions. The DJ-as-artist mindset leads one to believe that using new technology only dilutes the artists ability to express himself because it disconnects the DJ or simply makes the DJ lazy.

    2) There is the mindset that DJing is a service which is meant to entertain the patrons of a venue. Whether that be a wedding, club, rave, festival etc... This is a strictly technical service where utilizing the tools at your disposal allows you to complete the job in the best manner possible.

    Clearly these aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, it seems as though the best of the best DJ's are utilizing both mindsets to create not only expressive works of art which are new and different (although still derivative due to the nature of what a DJ does - this is not a pejorative) but understanding how to entertain a crowd at the same time. The utilization of bpm counters/sync/other technology is a tool that is a product of an advancement in technology - just like using a nail gun as opposed to a hammer to build a house. You can still build a beautiful and artistically complex house with a nail gun, it just takes less time. It does not require that your art be more complex than someone using a hammer but it does allow you to be more complex because it allows you to do something you couldn't necessarily do before without it. That's how I view any aide to DJing. There is no reason to do anything different - just because you can doesn't mean you should - but you can, and if you can properly take advantage of the tools at hand, you can create something with new depth and more expression than you could otherwise.

    I think there is certainly something to be said about not utilizing certain tools when learning the fundamentals of DJing. To build a house a great foundation is needed otherwise the structure will collapse. In this same fashion, unless you build a solid foundation of DJing fundamentals, you can never progress. I don't think utilizing the bpm counter necessarily falls under this but imagine the time it took - the the investment in brain power - to listen to a track, and really listen to it to count the beats out and time it. It forced you to listen to each track and learn it. But you can do that with sync and bpm counters - it just means fighting the urge to be lazy.

  6. #6
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    ^ Good post. Manually beat-syncing doesn't make you a better DJ. It's expected that your songs will match tempo. Technology saves us that time so that we can actually improve the music and transitions.

  7. #7
    Tech Guru deevey's Avatar
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    If you sucked before you'll still suck - albeit suck in time.

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  8. #8
    Tech Guru lethal_pizzle's Avatar
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    The only person you can cheat is yourself, if you have to mix without BPM counters one day and realise you can't do it.
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  9. #9

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    Let's put it this way, you're going to want to be able to match the BPMs by ear. Let's face it, laptops die, and when that happens, you're going to have to rely on the crate of vinyl you self pressed with your set. Goddamn I wish DJ companies would invent some kind of hardware that could display the BPM of a playing track.

  10. #10
    Tech Mentor Lineypirate's Avatar
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    I learnt to beatmatch about 10 years ago, on vinyl, with some belt driven decks and a crap mixer, because at the time, these were the only tools available to be at the time. And do you know what? I still sometimes watch the phase meter and BPM counter in Traktor for a bit of an easy life sometimes.

    It's not cheating, it's using the technology available to progress your skills. If you learnt to DJ pressing SYNC, and now you want to beatmatch, there is no better way than getting two of the same records and matching them. That way you learn how to slow down and speed up the records in a way properly suited to your style, and as both records sound the same, you won't have any other elements (such as song key or different breakdowns) to distract you.

    I used to run a DJ'ing workshop and for the newbies my normal progression used to go from sync'ing on VDJ or whatever program they had bought, to manually beatmatching the same song on that program, to vinyl / CD's.

    So no, it's not cheating. Downloading a premixed CD and palming that off as your own work? That's cheating.
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