Does Software DJing Hinder Your Overall Skill?
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  1. #1
    Tech Mentor Toastmaster's Avatar
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    Default Does Software DJing Hinder Your Overall Skill?

    I've continuously have had this conflict with using my software instead of CDs or vinyl. A lot of the clubs nearby prefer only CD DJs (probably due to easier DJ transition/setup), but part of me feels that it is also a skill-level basis.

    Considering that software can read you the BPMs, set beatmarkers and visually show you when you're beatmatched, it seems that it makes DJing a great amount easier; am I wrong to think that this somewhat hinders your ability to be a "good" DJ, if you only use software? DJing was first invented to keep the music flowing all night through smooth mixing; when you reduce that to something software can do for you, it personally makes me feel like you are cheating yourself out of becoming a "true" DJ.

    Don't get me wrong - software DJing is great; the FXs and creativity that you can unleash are practically unparalleled with regular CDJing or vinyl. And maybe that's what DJing is transforming more into: live musical remixing and performances with unlimited creativity. Either way, I think it would benefit every DJ to learn on vinyl or CDJs so they know the old basics and don't have to use software as a crutch. Perhaps this is because I'm primarily a trance DJ, rather than a techno or breakbeat DJ, I'm not sure.

    Anyway, hopefully this didn't sound like a rant - my goal was to put out an interesting philosophical question about our hobbies, jobs, careers, and passions, and to get some community feedback/input on the matter. Any comments, insults, or inputs would be appreciated!
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  2. #2
    Tech Mentor Lineypirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toastmaster View Post
    Am I wrong to think that this somewhat hinders your ability to be a "good" DJ, if you only use software?
    I don’t want to start this conversation again as I’m sure it’s been done to death, but being a good DJ is nothing about beatmatching or how many FX you can trigger with 100 samples looped on the fly. As you mentioned yourself, "DJ’ing was invented to keep the music flowing all night…….”

    Regarding software DJ’ing introducing skillfade to your manual beatmatching skills, I often work away from my “proper” vinyl setup for months at a time and have to use software as I have no room in my bag for a set of 1210’s! What happens when I get back however is that I find I haven’t lost the “ear” for knowing when music is out of time or the “theory” side of DJ’ing, it’s more the physical side of slowing records down, brushing up on the quick crossfader work and getting back into the groove of it all. This happens with anything you do, not just DJ’ing, and is probably muscle memory related.

    The short of it is, software DJ’ing won’t detract from your skills, it’s more the actual time spent NOT manipulating a record or a CDJ platter that will cause skill fade.
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  3. #3
    Tech Guru 3heads's Avatar
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    13,3" MacBookPro (Mid 2012) # 2x Technics 1210 # NI Audio 8 DJ # Ecler Nuo 2.0 # NI Traktor Kontrol X1 # Sennheiser HD-25
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toastmaster View Post

    Considering that software can read you the BPMs, set beatmarkers and visually show you when you're beatmatched, it seems that it makes DJing a great amount easier; am I wrong to think that this somewhat hinders your ability to be a "good" DJ, if you only use software?
    If you rely heavily on those features and cannot match songs using only a pitch control and your ears, it will create a problem if you started out using Turntables.

    Possibly I am one of the few Traktor users that do not take advantage of the plethora of features the software offers. This is more than likely one of the reasons why I am still using version 1.27

    It may be due to getting in this business when Turntables was the only means of playing music for the masses. So one must use there ears more to achieve a perfect blend.

    Bear in mind age will play a factor on where one stands on your topic. One cannot expect those who were not born in a time when Turntables were standard to embrace a technology that is before their time.

  5. #5
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    I feel it is all depending on how you use technology as a tool. Yes it can be a massive crutch and when I was young DJing i use to tare everyone apart that used laptops and CDJs etc... I use to say thats not real DJing, anyone can hit play and cue and be a juke box. Then I took probably 8+ years off and just recently came back a few months ago and obviously technology has been booming! As stated earlier, I still have the musical ear, I still not what I am supposed to do with beat matching an mixing, however I have so many more useful tools to make it better. I could have never dont anyting close what I can do now on my old Vestax mixer and 1210's because I have so many more tools to utilize now.
    I have friends who will not buy anything without a Sync button because they cant beat match and when the beat grid is off their mixes fall apart and they cannot save them for life. Personally I dont use Sync as I feel it takes away from the skill, however using Sync as an auto-tempo to slow down a beat when transitioning into a slow song has been a great tool because I can focus on getting the mix right and bringing in a tune better than taking the time to slow down a track etc.... Just my personal opinion

  6. #6
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    The biggest issue with software djing is its made it cheaper and more accessible. This has ment dj wages have gone down as when you go to a bar owner and they like your stuff when you come down to talking about money, its like you say 100 quid they say I can get som1 to do it for 40.

    The thing is you both know that 90% of the customers dont care or understand the differnce and are just there to get there end away. People also assume you dont pay for your music, where as when it was all vinyl everybody paid for music so when your spending 30 to 40 quid a week on records there was less people that could compete

  7. #7
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    "but auto sync allows me to be more creative"....

    translates as, blends 2 tracks and fiddles a few filters

  8. #8

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    Quantization allows mixing four decks at once with only two jogwheels, while juggling/ live sampling and using effects all at once. Plus the ability to adjust the tempo of multiple live decks at once is an absolute game-changer for moving through genres. And kids who just transition between two records are going to come up and say what they do is above all that?

    Pretty tired of douchebags who let one track play out alone for two minutes, then transition to the next one, and act like they've just done something amazing that requires their years of experience, and look down on everyone else. Yeah, you didn't NEED the full two minutes to do it, because you're *so good at beatmatching* but you HAD two whole minutes, so all your skill is moot, ANYONE could have done what you did in the time you had. How is the measure of a DJ how much time he can spend doing nothing, because he's so good at beatmatching?

    TL;DR: Uppity two-deck transition DJs are like the guy at the party showing off his alcohol tolerance by drinking way more than everyone else, then puking and passing out. Yeah, you sure are good at that skill, but anyone could gotten to that end.... Instead, the rest of us are going to have fun all night.
    Last edited by faderswagger; 05-31-2012 at 10:32 AM.

  9. #9
    Tech Guru Bassline Brine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by faderswagger View Post
    Quantization allows mixing four decks at once with only two jogwheels, while juggling/ live sampling and using effects all at once. Plus the ability to adjust the tempo of multiple live decks at once is an absolute game-changer for moving through genres. And kids who just transition between two records are going to come up and say what they do is above all that?

    Pretty tired of douchebags who let one track play out alone for two minutes, then transition to the next one, and act like they've just done something amazing that requires their years of experience, and look down on everyone else. Yeah, you didn't NEED the full two minutes to do it, because you're *so good at beatmatching* but you HAD two whole minutes, so all your skill is moot, ANYONE could have done what you did in the time you had. How is the measure of a DJ how much time he can spend doing nothing, because he's so good at beatmatching?

    TL;DR: Uppity two-deck transition DJs are like the guy at the party showing off his alcohol tolerance by drinking way more than everyone else, then puking and passing out. Yeah, you sure are good at that skill, but anyone could gotten to that end.... Instead, the rest of us are going to have fun all night.
    It's funny because I feel like a lot of DJ's, and I will be honest and say Traktor in particular because of the syncing, move things too quickly for me a lot of the time. Not saying everyone, but a lot of the "new" DJ's just do silly things way too often.

    I really prefer a tight, long mix. A solid transition with minimal FX and letting the actual tracks and selection do the talking. Scratching is good once and awhile, the same with controllerist tricks. But a long smooth soulful mix? That's what I love hearing at a club.

    It's also depending on what you're listening to. Soulful house, drum and bass, breaks even, can be funky and soulful. Dubstep, hardstyle I feel is a bit faster transition wise with harder cuts a lot of the time.

    It really depends on how you're looking at it.

    I've had the conversation about people with CDJ's and Vinyl and software, and it's interesting.

    I feel that using vinyl DVS (Serato or Traktor) is pretty commonplace these days, as you can't really expect most people to be able to afford to buy tracks on vinyl anymore (at least stateside) since it's honestly wicked expensive.

    CDJ's are a great medium, but they can be foolish as well with the newer ones. If people are using CDJ's, I see absolutely NO reason for them to be using software in conjunction with them. Rekordbox allows you to set things up ahead of time, and so guys using that is fine, but it's not the same as it once was, though it does look a hell of a lot more professional. CDJ's are also wicked easy to transition with, and that's handy as well. It's also a lot easier to buy some tracks, and burn them onto CD or USB stick than it is dealing with a computer.

    Another thing, vinyl or cdj wise, is that people who have invested into them? They have INVESTED into them. Shit ain't cheap. And that shows that there is some serious dedication to the craft when you're able to put that much money into something just to play around with at first. If you can use TT's or CDJ's, you probably have spent a lot of time at it, and are probably in it for the long haul.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the concept of controllers, and Ableton aside, I like them for an "addition" for my own stuff. (Dicers, MPKmini). But you do get to see who has invested into the real equipment when there are vinyl only, or cdj only nights. It weeds out the people who haven't invested into it.

    And while it may not be completely fair to everyone, there are a LOT of people running around with controllers these days who don't know the ropes.

    I don't want to be unfair, but an 18 year old who hasn't been going to clubs for years isn't going to have the same mindset as someone a bit older, who goes out night after night for years and understands the scene. It's just a fact. Some people are absolute geniuses about it, I know I'm not one of them, I have to bust my ass practicing every day.

    You need something to set a baseline when booking people, and it's tough to know without seeing people play or knowing them well sometimes.

    To me, it's just motivation to learn tt's and/or CDJ's, so I can get in on those kind of nights and not have to worry about it anymore.
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  10. #10

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    Yeah I definitely know what you mean. The style of mixing is definitely dependent on the style of music. For example, I have no idea how you'd really even mix trance without being a transition DJ. I follow the controllerist path because I'm a multi-genre DJ, and it lets me move between genres freely. It is also the way to go for live-remix style, which lends itself well to the styles I play. (not dubstep... I know you're wondering)

    I don't ever want to say what other people do takes little skill, all I want to do is fight for respect what some of us do. Because it deserves just as much respect.

    If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that *skill* is giving way to *creativity* in the DJ world, which is a very good thing. creativity aside, sync and beatmatching end up sounding the same.... So we can only go up from there. Anybody can train their ear for years and be great at beatmatching, but you can't learn creativity, and in the end creativity is what the people we're entertaining want. I think it's a great thing that technology has removed the need for years of practice, because kids who happen to be super creative can jump right into it and be awesome. Sure a lot of kids try to do this and suck, but don't judge the concept, just because a few people suck.

    Look at porter Robinson! Kid started at like 16, and is amazingly talented. He's already able to go out and use his natural talent because he didn't have to spend years learning the physical parts of DJing, because software does it for him. You can cry all you want about how unfair it is, and how he's "cheating" because he doesn't beatmatch... But software has just leveled the playing field between your years of beatmatching experience, and his age... and at the end of the day, he's just fucking better than you.

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