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Beginner's Guide To Beatmixing

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PART 2 - Beginner's Guide To Beatmixing

We are going to teach you to mix... you’re gonna need to be patient, persistent and practice till your fingers bleed. But stick with us and we’ll get you there.

Mixing is a big subject. There are an awful lot of different ideas about what mixing is all about. There are quite a few techniques involved and the way the techniques work can be different for different types of music and with different equipment. What’s more confusing is that there are no real rules. If you find your own way of
doing things, that feels good for you and gets the desired results, then go with it. All we can do is show you some approaches that work for us.

One step at a time
As with all potentially complicated and frustrating things, the best place to start is at the beginning and the best way to start is nice and slow. Don’t expect to just read this and then miraculously be able to mix overnight. It will almost certainly take months if not years to become any good at this. The more you practice, the harder you work at that practice, the easier it will get and the quicker the process will be. But we can’t stress enough – too many people get frustrated and beat themselves up over this sort of thing. Relax, feel the music, enjoy yourself, learn one little thing, practice it until it becomes second nature, then move on and eventually it will all flow.

ALSO :- as usual with the Kam DJ Academy, this has been written so that it suits everybody, even those with no experience of DJing at all. We all have different levels of knowledge so you may want to just dip in where you feel the need if you are a little more worldly wise!


TOOLS OF THE TRADE - The gear you'll need and what it does

DECKS - The different things on a DJ deck
1. platter
2. tone arm
3. target light
4. pitch fader
5. quartz lock & strobe
6. pitch bend buttons
7. brake & motor off


MIXER - the different things on a basic mixer
1. channel
2. metering and setting levels
3. monitoring
4. the crossfader



Choose your weapons
Counting beats 'n' bars

Getting a grip
- Finger positioning
- Basic manipulation
- Cueing up
- Releasing the platter

Your first mix
- Performing a 'drop mix'

Double jeopardy
- Getting the feel of the crossfader
- Using two copies of the same record to perform your first 'beat mix'
- Pushing on pulling back

Mix 'n' match
- About tempo
- Using the pitch fader
- Getting two different records to the same tempo

TOOLS OF THE TRADE - The gear you'll need and what it does

You will find loads of instructions and advice on how to connect up and set up a huge range of DJ gear in Part One of the DJ Academy “Getting Set Up... The Kam Guide To Connecting & Setting Up Your Equipment”.. which you can download from www.kam.co.uk

DECKS – a brief guide to the different things on a DJ deck

This is where you put the records.

Tone arm
The tone arm is there to hold the headshell in such a way as to keep the stylus sitting in the grooves of your records. For instructions on how to set it up properly so that this is what happens even when you manipulate the platter to cue up records, please download and read section one of our ‘Kam DJ Academy’ PDF.

Target light
This little pop-up light is there to shed a little light on your vinyl so that you can see where you’re putting the stylus.

Pitch Fader
Moving this fader causes the platter to slow down or speed up (dpepnding on which direction you move it).

Quartz lock & strobe
The Quartz Lock button essentially turns off the pitch fader. The point of it is so that you can return record playback speed (and therefore the tempo and musical key of a record) to its original setting with a single action. The Strobe Light is there to tell you whether the platter is actually spinning at the correct speed. If you set the platter running and look into the light at the dots, if the platter is spinning at either of the default speeds (or Quartz Locked) then one of the dots will appear to be stationary. If the platter is not spinning at a default speed then you will see a dot appear to move in one direction or other. Dots travelling clockwise indicate that the platter is running fast, dots travelling anti-clockwise indicate a platter that’s running
slow. The main advantage of this to a DJ is that it demonstrates whether a particular turntable consistently runs fast or slow. It can be tempting to rely on learning how far to move the pitch fader on your own set of decks, but if you do this and your own decks run true and those in a venue don’t you need to know about it.

Pitch bend buttons
Some decks have Pitch Bend Buttons. These cause the motor to accelerate or decelerate by a specific amount for as long as they’re held down. They are there as an alternative to touching the platter or spindle as outlined below.

Brake & motor off
There is a big difference between hitting the start/stop button and using the on/off switch with Direct Drive decks. The start/stop button engages a brake to stop the platter so that it stops spinning quite quickly. Some decks also have a ‘Brake Speed’ control which determines how hard the deck hits the brakes. The on/off switch
actually disengages the motor so that the platter continues to spin until it runs out of momentum - so it stops more gradually. With most decks, they continue to send sound out to the mixer when you hit the stop or motor off... so the sound of the record gradually slowing down is heard.

Put a record on a deck and set the platter spinning. Try gently stopping the record with your fingers. You should be able to stop it without much finger pressure. The platter of your deck should continue to spin whilst you hold the actual record motionless. What makes this possible is the slip mat, which provides a slippery surface for the platter to spin against. If you find that even a gentle finger pressure tends to stop the platter spinning as well as the record, you can cut out a circle of paper, pop a hole in the middle and use it as an additional slippery layer between the platter and your slip mat.

MIXER– a brief guide to the different things on a basic mixer

How to connect up your decks or CD players to your mixer is covered in our Kam DJ Acadamy Part One pdf available at www.kam.co.uk.

Because we’re able to connect several different sound sources DJ Equipment to a mixer it’s helpful to be able to distinguish which one we’re talking about. So when we connect two decks to a mixer we connect each one to it’s own ‘channel’ on the mixer. It helps to think of a channel as a path. Sound comes in at one end, passes
through various things and then flows out of the other end, through the crossfader and off out of the mixer. Each of the things the sound passes through as it flows through the channel has controls. These will be different for each mixer depending on the facilities available – you’ll need to check your mixer manual to find out which
facilities your mixer has. With most mixer layouts all of the different controls for each channel are laid out in a single line running down the front panel from top to bottom. Each channel will (if it has them) consist of the following things in the order in which they occur;

phono/line selection switches – many mixer channels have two sets of inputs on the back so that you can connect both a deck and a CD player to just one channel. You then use this face plate switch to choose which will flow through the channel.

gain control – this adjusts the input level (volume) of the sound as it arrives at the mixer.

EQ controls – these are used to adjust the tonal characteristics of the sound and will be covered in detail within our forthcoming Advanced Guide To Beatmixing. For now set these to zero.

kill switches
– another method of adjusting the tonal characteristics of sound which will be covered in our Advanced Guide.

pan control – this is used to make the sound of the channel seem louder in the left or right speaker.

effect send/return control or button
– this is here to allow you to connect an external effects processor. These are not common on mixers for beginners and therefore another one for our Advanced Guide.

channel fader – this is used to adjust the level/volume of the individual channel in relation to the other channel/s. The channel fader adjusts volume before it is sent to the crossfader.

It is all too easy to overload either your mixer or your amplifier and speakers so it’s important to learn to keep your levels under control... an amp and speakers can only be as loud as it can be. Feeding it with overloaded, distorted sound won’t make it any louder, it’ll just make it sound distorted. A little bit of distortion at home, at low volume is possibly not all that noticeable but when it comes to playing through a sound system, the extra volume will make the distortion really unpleasant.

To help avoid this we have a meter to measure the sound. A very basic mixer may only measure the sound as it leaves the mixer. Most mixers have a button on each channel marked ‘PFL’ (Pre Fade Level). Pressing it switches the meter over to measuring the sound as it arrives at the mixer. A perfect signal is one that peaks at
the zero dB mark on the meter (notice that on most mixers this ‘zero’ LED is actually amber in colour). You’ll notice that the LEDs above zero are red... which should be enough of a hint really.

Setting Levels
Here’s a basic procedure for setting correct levels;

• Make sure you have made all the correct connections.

• Ensure that you have set the input select switches for each channel to ‘phono’ (or Line if you’re using CDs).

• Turn the Master Output and channel fader levels down to zero.

• Turn the channel gain (sometimes called trim) control to zero (if your mixer has them).

• Put a record on and set it running.

• Set the crossfader in a central position.

• Push the appropriate channel fader up to maximum.

• What happens next is partly down to which mixer you have.

• If you have a basic mixer without any channel gain controls (like the GM25SE) you have no way of setting input levels so all you do is use the Master Level control to adjust the output level so that it peaks at around
zero dB. Kam have built the GM25 so that you will not overload the inputs with a normal record or CD.

• If you have a mixer with PFL metering and gain controls here’s what you do;

1) Press the PFL (or Cue) button on the appropriate channel. Make sure it’s the only PFL button that is active (many mixers include a status LED by the PFL button to make this clear) so that you’re only measuring the
one channel at a time.

2) You should now see activity on the level meter. This meter activity illustrates the level of sound arriving at the mixer.

3) Use the gain/trim control to adjust this so that it is peaking at around 0dB.

4) Now press the PFL/Cue button again to return the level meters to measuring the Main Mix Output. Because the Master Level is set to zero there should be no activity on the meter.

5) Gradually increase the Master Level control to set a comfortable listening level... whilst observing the next item in our little list!

• Regardless of mixer type, you should try to keep the output level of your mixer peaking at around 0dB. If you have it set at this optimum level and the sound system is still not loud enough, your problem is the sound system... not the mixer! If there is room to turn up the sound system, then great. If not, you have reached maximum volume and you’ll just have to get on with your job. If you make it to playing through a professional sound system in a professional club, the entire issue of the overall volume of the sound system will be completely out of your control as a DJ. There will either be an engineer on hand to set the volume or (more likely these days) the system will have a compressor/limiter fitted which will automatically keep the
volume at a specified volume. So you feeding it distorted sound will achieve nothing more than making your music sound crap.

When DJing it is essential to be able to play one record out through the speakers and to listen to (or monitor) another record through a set of headphones so that you can prepare to change between the two. All mixers have what we call a ‘Cue’ system that makes this possible. A basic Cue system has three controls.

1) The first and most obvious is a headphone level control.

2) The next is a control that allows you to choose whether to listen to the ‘main mix’ (the sound going out through the main output and through the speakers) or the ‘Cue’ (the record you’re preparing to mix in). We call this the ‘Cue Select’ control and it has another handy feature; when turned fully to one side (EG left) you’ll hear just the Cue record in your headphones. When turned fully the opposite way you hear just the Main Mix in your headphones. But when the control is in the middle you hear a mix of both in your headphones. This is so that you can practise your mix in your headphones before you perform it. Many mixers also have what we call a Split Cue feature (often simply a button) which plays the Cue through one cup of your headphones and the Main Mix through the other.

3) The system is completed by a button on each channel which determines whether each channel is going to be heard on the Cue side of the Cue Select control.

The crossfader
The horizontal fader at the front of the mixer. It’s used to transfer seamlessly from the sound of one channel to the other. When at one end of its track the crossfader causes just one channel to be sent to the Main Mix Output. As you move it across, it gradually decreases the level of that channel, whilst at the same time gradually increasing the volume of the other channel. In the middle it blends the sound of both channels together in equal proportions and sends them off to the Main Mix Output.

Some mixers have ‘Curve’ controls which allow you to set up how quickly each channel will be faded up or down because a smooth blending DJ needs a slow and gentle fade and a turntablist needs a razor sharp fast fade.

Headphones are an essential item for DJs because without them you won’t be able to audition, Cue Up or rehearse mixing records. Rather than rely on practicing mixes inside their headphones, most DJs prefer to listen to the Cue record in one ear using one cup of the headphone and to listen to the sound system with the
other ear. So a good set of DJ headphones needs to do two things;

1) to cut out the sound of the sound system when you’re wearing the cups so you can hear the Cue record clearly.

2) to cling to your head so that one cup sits over your ear and the other cup perches elsewhere on your head (usually behind the other ear).


THROUGHOUT THESE TUTORIALS WE’RE GOING TO FOLLOW A LITTLE OBVIOUS PROTOCOL... we’re going to assume that you’ve connected the left hand deck to channel one on your mixer – so from here on we’ll call the left hand deck, ‘deck 1’. Likewise we’ll call the right hand deck, ‘deck 2’ and assume it’s connected to channel two.

Choose your weapons
Many DJing techniques are easier to practice with two copies of the same record and the simple four to the floor beats of house and techno are easier to work with. So, even if you don’t usually listen to it this kind of thing... find a simple house/techno record that starts with a kick drum, has a prominent kick drum (and
a prominent hi hat) all the way through and preferably has a minute or so of just drums at the start. Buy two copies of it.

Counting beats 'n' bars
Place a copy on each deck and set both pitch controls on your decks to zero (press the Quartz Lock buttons if your decks have them). Set your crossfader in the centre on your mixer so that you can hear both decks.

Put the needle on the record and start deck one spinning. Listen to the record and start to count from one to four, out loud (don’t worry about feeling like a tit, there’s nobody listening!), in time to the kick drum beats. 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4.. etc. You should quickly notice that one beat is emphasized more than the others. Each
group of four beats is a bar and you have hopefully just identified that emphasized beat as the first beat in the bar. Almost all dance music is organized in four beat bars. Traditional House & Techno places a kick drum on every single beat in the bar, so it has four kick beats in each bar... hence the term ‘four to the floor’. You’ll
also spot that most dance music has a snare drum on the second and fourth beat of the bar. Four to the floor house/techno often also has a hi hat placed in the gap between the kick drums – we call these ‘in between’ beats, ‘off beats’. The more you start looking for patterns and repetition within dance music, the more you’ll find. These patterns will help you a lot in a great many ways so start listening out for them... we’ll return to this subject in a little more depth in our Advanced Guide.


We are going to do the following with our crossfader still in the central position, which of course means you’re going to hear an almighty racket through the speakers as you practice. We’re doing this because it means you don’t have to worry about headphone monitoring for now and because it’s easier to hear what you’re going through the speakers. In a performance situation you’d practice in your headphones.

Finger Positioning
There are two basic hand positions involved; one for actually Cueing up records and another for back or forward winding when you wish to locate a part of the record to Cue Up.

Finger positioning for backwinding
Many DJs find it easier to place their fingers somewhere close to the label when trying to wind the record backwards or forwards any great distance – like when trying to get back to the beginning of a record to practice a particular move again. It’s a natural process... you try running a mix, regardless of whether it’s successful
or not, you’ll need to rewind and Cue up again to perform the mix again. By the nature of Djing this is something you’ll find yourself doing a lot. The finger positioning is simple logic really, putting your finger near or on the label means you can backwind much more quickly, with a much smaller hand movement and without
knocking the tone arm... try it you’ll see.

Finger positioning for Cueing Up
Position your hand on the vinyl, directly opposite the needle but about an inch from the edge of the record (where you place your fingers here is not a hard and fast rule, it’s just that this is where many DJs fingers seem to naturally end up!).

Basic Manipulation
1. Stop deck one. Place the needle on the blank run in at the start.
2. Use your fingers in Backwinding position to wind it forwards until you hear the first kick drum beat and stop.
3. Move your fingers over to Cue position.
4. Wind the record back to a little under a quarter turn before the kick drum beat and stop it.
5. You may need to re-position your fingers in Cue position during the last couple of steps... in time you’ll just get a feel for where to put your fingers.
6. Try moving the record forwards. You should hear the kick beat.
7. Wind it backwards, you’ll hear the kick beat played backwards.
8. You’ll notice that if you move too fast the kick drum sounds thin and high pitched, if you move too slowly it sounds very low, bass heavy and less punchy.
9. Practice simply moving the record back and forth, trying to do it at the right speed to get a feel for ‘playing’ the single kick drum beat at the correct speed so that it sounds right.
10. Keep practicing this until you are confident with it.
11. Learn to do it with either hand!! You’ll need to be able to do this with either hand.

Cueing up
The first four steps of the Basic Manipulation technique above are what you need to Cue Up a record. When you’ve found the beat you want, you pull back about a quarter turn and leave the needle in the groove, in position, with the deck stopped. We do this so that we know that we can leave it sat where it is until we need to run the mix. When we’re ready we know we can go back to it, wind forward a quarter
turn and away we go. This makes loads of sense because in the natural process of DJing we have one record playing through the system whilst we prepare the next. Most DJs will then prepare the next mix and then return the Cue record to this ‘Cue Position’ and leave it there whilst the rest of the current track plays out or until
the right moment to run the mix comes along.

There is another very handy and not so obvious reason for using the quarter turn thing. PANIC. It takes just under a quarter of a turn for your average pro deck to go from a standing start to correct speed if you just hit the start button. In an emergency (like you or some other muppet knocks the tone arm off the current
track) you can reach out and hit the start button and within a second you have another track running.

Releasing the platter
1. Starting from a Cue Position (we’re going to do this on deck 1)
2. Whilst holding the record still with your left hand, start deck 1 spinning (with your right hand!).
3. Go back to practicing your back and forth action.
4. When you feel ready, simply let go after one of your forward actions.
5. The record will begin to play. You will probably notice that the music either sets off a little too fast and then gradually slows back down to the correct speed.. or sets off too slowly and needs to speed up to catch the correct speed.
6. With practice you’ll get a feel for how to give it a beautifully weighted, gentle shove to set it off at exactly the right speed.
7. Practice this until you can do it with either hand.


Performing a ‘drop mix’
1. Cue up both copies of your duplicate record at their first beat.
2. Start deck 2 playing.
3. Now practice trying to play the first kick drum on deck 1 ‘in time’ with the kick drum on deck 2.
4. With practice you will be able to play the forward kick beat from deck one in time with a beat on deck two and then play the sound of the pull back action (the reversed kick drum sound), in time with the next kick beat from deck two.

Practice this for a while before moving on..

5. Stop both decks.
6. Place one cup of your headphones over your left ear.
7. Ensure that you select channel 1 with the ‘Cue’ switch. And set the headphone Cue system so that you hear deck 1 in your headphones.
8. Slide the crossfader over to the right (for channel 2). When you start the decks again you should hear deck 2 through your speakers and deck 1 through your headphones.
9. Cue both records up again and repeat steps 1 to 4.
10. Cue up your first beat on deck one.
11. Set deck 2 running from the beginning.
12. Start your back and forth motion on deck 1.
13. When you feel like you are in time, let go of deck one at the first beat of a bar.
14. At the same time as you let go of deck one with your left hand, you need to quickly move the crossfader from right to left with your right hand.
15. If you get your timing right, release deck 1 at just the right speed and move the crossfader at the right moment... you will have performed your first ‘drop mix’. You have swapped from one record to another... keeping the beats in time, in a way that actually sounds good.

Now practice all that till your fingers bleed!


Getting the feel of the crossfader
When performing our basic ‘drop mix’ above, we moved the crossfader across very quickly o that it simply acts as a switch from deck 1 to deck 2. In order to move on to a more gradual blend of the two records we need to get a feel for the crossfader.

1. Stop both decks and move the crossfader to the left.
2. Set deck 1 running from the beginning. You should be hearing music through the speakers.
3. Try slowly moving the crossfader from left to right. You should notice that as you near the centre the level drops a little.
4. As you move through the centre and over towards the right you should hear the level decrease a little more rapidly. As it reaches the extreme right you should hear nothing.
5. Now slowly move the crossfader from right to left.
6. You should hear deck 1 gradually fade up from silence. It should reach a fairly substantial but not full volume in the centre and then be at full volume by the time it reaches the far left.
7. Do this a few times to get the feel of it.

A little explanation of what’s going on with the crossfader;- The crossfader is there to swap seamlessly from one deck to the other. So in it’s central position it mixes together the sound from both decks. If you think about that for a moment, simply adding together the sound from both decks would make the resulting
Master level twice as loud wouldn’t it? To compensate, a crossfader actually reduces the level of each deck by as much as a half in the central position so that the resulting Master level remains constant as we mix. Clever eh? At the same time as performing this trick it is enabling us to gradually fade one record in over
another.whilst fading the other out. You could do all this by moving the channel faders, but a crossfader lets us do it with one hand.

Using two copies of the same record to perform your first ‘beat mix’
Time for your first beat mix!... still using two copies of the same record, still with the pitch control at zero (or Quartz Lock on)...

1. Stop both decks.

Place one cup of your headphones over your left ear.

Ensure that you select channel 1 with the ‘Cue’ switch. And set the headphone Cue system so that you hear deck 1 in your headphones.

Slide the crossfader over to the right (for channel 2). When you start the decks again you should hear deck 2 through your speakers and deck 1 through your headphones.

Cue up your first beat on deck one.

Set deck 2 running from the beginning.

Start your back and forth motion on deck 1.

When you feel like you are in time, let go of deck one at the first beat of a bar.

If you have released deck 1 at the right speed and in time with deck 2 both decks will be in time.

IF they’re in time, you can now slide the crossfader gradually across from the left to the center and you’ll her both records playing together, through your speakers in synchronized DJ heaven. Unfortunately they might not be perfectly synchronised and they might drift out of sync’ relatively quickly if they are... so now you need to read on...

Pushing on, pulling back...
Lets assume that the previous set of instructions didn’t quite go according to plan... sadly, a likely state of affairs! Don’t worry, nobody gets it right first time. Because we’re using two copies of the same record running at the same pitch there are only really two things that can have gone wrong; you either didn’t release deck 1 at
precisely the right moment or you didn’t release it with a perfectly weighted shove to set it running at the correct speed. Now the most obvious thing to do is simply practice these things until it sounds very close indeed. Unfortunately there is no short cut here, because although we’re about to run through a couple of
techniques for correcting the synchronization after you’ve started the mix... sadly they will only serve for quite small corrections. You NEED to practice the various steps up until this point until you’re very close to getting the mix right from the moment you release deck 1. Moving on to trying to correct the synchronization without getting everything thus far fairly sorted, is a total waste of time.

The first step to synchronization correction is to identify the problem. At it’s most basic, our problem is that although the two records are running at exactly the same tempo their beats are not playing simultaneously. It is helpful to think about this in terms of whether the Cue record is ‘early’ or ‘late’ in relation to the Master.
Because we know our records are running at the same tempo we know that if the kick drum from the Cue record is happening slightly after the Master record (ie it is late), it will stay consistently late. With a late beat we need to hurry it up a bit, or ‘push it on’ a little until it is on time. If the kick drum from the Cue record is
happening just before the Master kick beats then it is early. With early beats we need to slow them down a little, or ‘pull them back’ until they’re in time.

How you decide whether the Cue record is early or late is down to careful listening. As you’re releasing deck 1 into the mix, keep your ears on the Master record and try to stick with it so you can identify which set of beats it is. This is often easier to actually identify with two different records, with two different sounds, but trying to
learn this straight off with two different records is actually much more difficult because of the complication of getting the tempo of two different records together. This can be tricky at first but try releasing deck 1 a few times to just practice and the knack should come to you. It’s easier to get the hang of listening for the
differences without actually trying to fix them than worrying about the next step. Once you’ve identified whether the Cue record is early or late it’s a case of physically pulling or pushing it into time... literally making it accelerate or decelerate just a little, very briefly.. and there are at least four different ways this can be done. The most common and popular method is number 1. Which as far the author is concerned is stupid, because method 2 is loads easier to control! But there you go... it’s all very personal!!

It is a good idea to simply try out methods 1 to 3 on a single spinning record before trying it in the mix. Just get a feel for how it’s done, how much pressure to use, and how long you need to touch for in relation to what happens to the record. It really helps to be very gentle. It’s good if you can slow down or speed up a record very slightly without causing any noticeable change in the sound. You’ll notice very quickly that heavy handedness causes extreme fluctuations in musical pitch and tempo. You may also find it informative to look at the strobe light as you try it, you can actually see the dots move forwards or backwards and the visual aid it offers, helps some people.

Synchronisation correction method 1; touching the platter
To pull back an early Cue record beat; gently and ever so briefly touch the edge of the spinning platter with your finger.

To push on a late record use your fingers on the vinyl (at around the Cue Position we used when Cueing up and releasing the record) to give it a tiny little shove. This is not easy. Simply touching the vinyl will slow it down (indeed many DJs touch the vinyl here to slow it down rather than using the edge of the platter). You need to
kind of touch it on the move, so that your hand is already moving at the same speed as the platter when your finger touches the vinyl.

With touching the platter, it is much easier to pull back a record than push t on. For this reason some DJs get into the habit of erring on the side of releasing the Cue record early rather than late.

Synchronisation correction method 2; using the spindle
Try touching the little chrome spindle in the middle of the platter... it may not look like it but it is spinning.

Put your thumb and forefinger on the spindle and feel it spinning between them. Don’t apply any pressure just feel it for a moment.

Now try squeezing just a little. You should be able to slow down the platter just a little. Admittedly you do need reasonably strong fingers and it is tricky with wet or sweaty hands.

Now try gripping and turning the spindle to try and speed up the platter. By the nature of this action the author finds that the spindle naturally rolls between thumb and forefinger and this does the trick.

Synchronisation correction method 3; ; using pitch bend buttons
Touching the platter with the record playing out through the sound system is a dangerous game. It’s all too easy to cause a big boom when you touch the deck case or simply to slip... and the simple truth is that you’re touching the platter so if you do slip there’s a chance of whacking the tone arm.

So the idea of the ‘pitch bend button’ emerged. If your deck has them you’ll find two buttons, one marked ‘+’ and another marked ‘-‘. Pressing these buttons causes the platter to accelerate by either plus or minus a specified amount (usually +/- 6% or +/- 8%). Because it’s manipulating platter speed using the motor the results are potentially much smoother.

To pull a record back momentarily press the minus button.

To push a record on momentarily press the plus button.

Because they adjust platter speed by a fixed amount all you need to focus on is how
long to push the button for. You’ll find you only need to press very briefly.

Synchronisation correction method 4: using the pitch slider
Once mastered the following method is considered by many as the best because it essentially mimics the action of pitch bend buttons on decks that don’t have them, thus keeping your hands away from the platter. This too is manipulating platter speed using the motor so the results can be very smooth. But be warned, it’s a hell
of a knack and not too many people use it.

To pull back a record - quickly pull the pitch slider towards the plus sign. This obvious increases the speed of the platter and hopefully pushes the beats into time. The trick is to just as quickly return it to its original position. So it’s like a little flick of the pitch fader... up a couple of percent and then back again in the blink of an eye. The tricky bit can be getting the slider back to the place you started from!

To push on a record – do the reverse, quickly push the fader towards the minus sign and then return it to the same setting.

MIX 'n' MATCH...

About Tempo
So far we have been dealing with two copies of the same record. The moment you decide to mix two different records together a whole new can of worms splits open and the world gets wriggly. The problem is tempo. Tempo is the musical term for how fast a piece of music is going. We measure tempo in terms of how many beats occur during a minute (which we call ‘beats per minute’ or ‘bpm’ for short). So for example a piece of hard house might be running at around 130bpm, a piece of Drum & Bass at around 170bpm or a piece of Hip Hop might run at around 95bpm. For two pieces of music to mix together they have to be running at the
same tempo. The fact that the rhythmic relationships which underpin different musical genres tend to by quite reliant on specific tempo ranges is just one part of what lies behind the fact that DJs tend to stick mostly to one broad style.

Using the pitch fader
To get two different records running at the same tempo we have pitch faders on decks. Their operation is a simple affair. Pull the fader towards you (toward the plus sign) and the platter speeds up... thus speeding up the tempo of the music on the record. Push the fader away from you (towards the minus sign), the platter and
your music slow down. The actual amount the platter speeds up or slows down across the range of the fader movement is expressed in terms of a percentage. Many decks have a fixed pitch fader range of for example +/- 10%. More sophisticated turntables have a variable pitch fader range where for example like
the Kam DDX1000 a button is used to select between a pitch range of +/- 10/20 or 30%.

Having a large pitch range available is great when it comes to trying to get records with vastly different tempo to mix together. But it has a disadvantage in that even at +/- 10% it can take some quite fine pitch fader movements to get the tempo of two records perfectly matched... and of course having a much bigger pitch fader range means that small movements of the fader make larger changes. So making small subtle changes can be tricky. Hence having the pitch fader range selectable for the best of both worlds.

Getting Two different records to the same tempo

Getting it ‘nearly right’
Before we can get two different records to exactly the same tempo we have to get them at least ‘nearly’ at the same tempo. If for example you want to mix a piece of Hip Hop with a piece of hard house, you should be able to tell, just by counting time to the beats and judging how fast you’re counting, that one of them is much slower than the other. With a +/-10% pitch control a record with a tempo of 100bpm will not mix with a record with a tempo of 130bpm. Even if you slow down the 130bpm record by 13bpm to 117bpm and speed up the 100bpm record to 110bpm, they just don’t mix. So the first hurdle is to make sure you have two records which are inherently of a reasonably similar tempo. When two records are for example 10bpm apart they should mix fairly easily.

Getting two reasonably similar tempo records to the same tempo
When we were learning how to synchronise beats (in the pushing on pulling back section above) we were dealing with beats being early or late. But life was simple because the amount by which they were early or late remained fixed because the two records were at the same tempo. The process for getting two different records synchronised is very similar, but with one simple complication; the amount by which a beat is early or late is constantly changing.

Time to try it... we’re going to assume you’re sensibly working with two pieces of music which are of a reasonably similar (but obviously not exactly the same) tempo...

1. Stop both decks.

Place one cup of your headphones over your left ear.

Ensure that you select channel 1 with the ‘Cue’ switch. And set the headphone Cue system so that you hear deck 1 in your headphones.

Slide the crossfader over to the right (for channel 2). When you start the decks again you should hear deck 2 through your speakers and deck 1 through your headphones.

Cue up your first beat on deck one.

Set deck 2 running from the beginning.

Start your back and forth motion on deck 1.

When you feel like you are in time, let go of deck one at the first beat of a bar.

Keep your attention on the Master track and, presuming you released the first beat of a bar on deck 1 in time, listen to whether subsequent beats are early or late.

The secret is to listen to the changes in length of the gaps between the Cue and Master beats.

If for example beat 2 (from the Cue record on deck 1) is late (just after the Master beat), then beat 3 is later still, then beat 4 is even later, then the Cue record is slower than the Master. So you need to slightly increase the speed of the platter with the pitch fader and try again.

Cue up deck 1 and try it again with the increased platter speed. If you’ve made the correct assessment, then this time beat 2 should either be in time or not quite so late, then beat 3 should be closer too.

By only making small adjustments to the pitch fader, Cueing up deck 1, spinning it in again and listening to the differences... and repeating the process you should be able to gradually get the two records to the same

If at steps 9 & 10 you find that the beats from the Cue record are occurring just before the Master beats then the Cue record is running faster. In which case you’ll need to increase platter speed... but the process is the same.

Once you’ve got the two records running ‘nearly’ synchronized you can move on to your preferred method for ‘pulling back’ or ‘pushing on’ to try to keep the two records ‘in’.

At this point you’ll probably want to ease the crossfader over to the center and revel in the glory of your first beatmix of two different records... your first proper mix!

You will probably find that once you have the two records more or less in time for a couple of bars they will begin to drift out of time. You can obviously then push on or pull back either record to keep them in.

If you find that you are repeatedly having to pull back or push on to keep the records from drifting you need to make another very small adjustment to the pitch fader. So if you’re repeatedly pulling back the Cue record because it’s pulling ahead, then slow down the platter a tiny bit. If you’re repeatedly pushing on, you’ll need to speed up the platter a little.

It’s all a case of careful listening and gently nudging in the right direction.

It will take some practice because if you think about it we know have three things which can be wrong... you need to release deck 1 at the right moment, you need to weight the little shove just right AND you need to have made the correct judgments about what adjustments you need to make to the pitch fader.

Good luck, practice loads and come back and download Part Three of the Kam DJ Academy “The Next Level”... which should be ready soon!


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