Advice on how to choose a selection for a mix?
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  1. #1
    Tech Mentor DStridium's Avatar
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    Default Advice on how to choose a selection for a mix?

    I mostly play dubstep but I also enjoy playing other genres of EDM as well as hip-hop, disco, funk, jazz and reggae. I'm fairly new to DJ'ing myself but have been involved in the EDM scene for a while. I am just really interested to hear all your personal advice/technique on how you choose a selection for your mixes.

    Do you go by the songs key?

    Do you go by the songs genre?

    What exactly do you consider when deciding song A & B so to speak when mixing?

    What are some things to look for when picking out two songs to mix especially with EDM (focus on mostly dubstep, some house, minimal & trance)?

    Anything else you feel is helpful to add is certainly appreciated a lot!

    Looking forward to picking your brains a little bit.
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  2. #2
    Tech Mentor NathanWard's Avatar
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    I tend to mix in my head all throughout the day, so by the time I get home I've sort of got these transitions in my head. Then I check tempos, see if they're similar, and try it out. I try and gauge the energy of both songs. Matching the key isn't really important, as a lot of mixes still sound good even not key matched. Another thing I look for is elements of the songs that lend themselves to mixing. An example of this is In My Mind (Axwell Mix). In the intro it has double time kicks and then a massive snare hit with a delay, then no kicks for a beat. During this I'll drop out the outgoing song in the space with no beats, and bring it back in when the kicks restart. Then finally the buildup to the buildup finishes and I'll drop out the outgoing track completely.

    Sorry if I rambled a bit during that. Example of it in this mix.

    In My Mind is the second track.

    That's a fairly specific example of ways to pick songs but look for things that that work well.
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  3. #3
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    I just try combinations over and over and over.

    I also have mixing sessions with friends and lots of alcohol. Have to improvise in those situations. What I try and focus on is improving my ability to make a good mix by intuition.

    I find that this also allows me to plan out sets better. I can go through a list of tunes and whittle them down into a smaller list, burn them onto CD and take them with me to my set.

  4. #4
    DJTT Moderator Dude Jester's Avatar
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    choose a killer intro tune and go with the flow from there, depending on time restrictions (if its an 80 minute cd mix or a 60 minute podcast) will also determine where i take the mix, mixing style and so on. basically, just mix and you can always tweak your tracklist after that. it usually takes me around 6 hours to put a cd together and 2 or 3 runs to get it right.
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  5. #5
    Tech Guru dope's Avatar
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    IMO :

    - don't bother about key, seriously..
    - pick a starting track
    - pick the last track

    Then, choose which path do you want your listeners to take. A good set is a journey

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaek View Post
    I also have mixing sessions with friends and lots of alcohol. Have to improvise in those situations. What I try and focus on is improving my ability to make a good mix by intuition.
    one of the best ways to practice, experiment and have fun, though i usually dont remember which tracks work well with each other by the end of the day
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  7. #7
    Tech Guru Otacon's Avatar
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    Like Nathan said, i mix in my head all day thinking of things that i think will work together then i get home and smoke a cig and have fun with it. I usually think of it as "if i was listening to this, what would completely blow my mind next?" then I try it and see how it goes. Process of elimination

  8. #8
    Tech Guru Patch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dope
    - pick a starting track
    - pick the last track

    Then, choose which path do you want your listeners to take.
    It's as simple as this. Nicely put, dope.
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  9. #9
    Tech Guru keeb's Avatar
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    First, something I picked up from my early days when I spun more top 40 remixes than anything else: Genres are useful. When I started out I'd mix from hip-hop to house to electro to drum and bass - I just picked the song that I wanted to hear next. The problem was that it's really hard to build a feel for a set that way. Even without such extreme variations, if you're going from hard-hitting electro house to deep house and then back to electro, you're probably going to lose your audience.

    As for mixing in key - I'll do it sometimes, but mostly I do so when practicing to train my ear for what's in key and what's not. Even without following the camelot key codes you can mix songs together well; you just have to learn to hear what sounds right together. I'll listen to mixes now from my early days and hear obvious harmonic clashes that I thought were fine at the time - harmonic mixing helped me to realize that.

    More importantly though, it's about energy level. Most of the time I'll try to gradually increase energy throughout my set. I mix mostly house (deep, prog, electro, tech, bit of techno etc.) so I'll usually start slower and calmer - deep house, tech house, and more laid-back prog. As the mix progresses I'll start bringing in more upbeat prog and lower energy electro. If you think about energy level on a scale of 1-10, (1-3 being ambient, 4-6 being chilled deep house/tech house, 7-8 being prog, 9-10 being ball-busting electro) I usually start around a 5 and I'll generally move upward overall gradually throughout the night. I'll still mix in lower energy stuff, just generally I won't go from a 10 to a 6 - I'll go from a 9 to an 8 to a 6, then gradually bring it back up again. None of this is a hard and fast rule, it's just key to keep in mind that transitioning from a 10-6 or a 6-10 is going to be jarring to your listeners and you'd better know what you're doing if you plan on doing so; done right they can make for refreshing changes of pace. Done wrong, they can feel like the DJ has no idea what he's doing.

    Oh, and energy level doesn't necessarily correlate to tempo. I've heard 115 BPM moombahcore that's easily twice the energy of 128 BPM electro.

    On a basic level though, it comes down to "what do I think will work well here?" Sometimes the bassline in the track I'm listening to is similar to another track I know, so I'll throw that on because I know the basslines will work well together. Other times, there's similarity in the lyrics, or maybe a common synth, or same-length builds. Find connections between your tracks - find the track that seems like it, "should come next," instead of," well, this'll work," and you'll be set.
    Last edited by keeb; 03-22-2012 at 02:00 PM.

  10. #10
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    when playing house/prog/techy, etc I generally watch my keys and engergy levels of the songs, but after a while you just kinda know what songs or types of songs go well together.

    When I play hip hop/dance/rock/open format -- anything goes.
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