Being a DJ means first of all learning to mix two songs together. The trouble is that tempo matching (or beatmatching) is a difficult technique.
When I started djing, I really suffered to learn to wedge my songs. It was 2008, and I really lacked sources of information. But I reassure you, you are not going to suffer as much to learn the tempo setting.
In this post, I’m going to share with you 7 steps to learn how to wedge your songs. I recommend that you read this post in its entirety, then watch it in video format (you will have the link at the end of the article).
You’re ready? Let’s learn to mix two songs together!
How to mix two songs together
Setting two tracks to the tempo – or beatmatching – consists of putting two tracks at the same speed. In this post, I’ll teach you how to do this by ear!
But first, what are the advantages of knowing how to mix by ear? Here are the 4 main advantages:
- you will be respected by your peers who know how to immediately spot a DJ who knows how to stall a usurper
- mixing is an art – you will help preserve the beauty of this profession,
- one day you will be able to tackle vinyl turntables (the cream of the crop),
- your personal satisfaction will be immense – you will feel a sense of pride.
Well, I’ll be totally transparent with you. Learning to wedge by ear is a real pain. But with practice and a good method you will succeed.
Step 1: Settings
The first step is to properly configure your adjustable decks – I’m talking about CUE and GAIN here.
Step 2: Hide the BPMs
BPM or “beats per minute” is the tempo of the music. To practice, I recommend that you hide the BPM display by using a post-it for example.
But then, why hide the BPM?
Quite simply because mixing is done “by ear”. It is not by looking on your computer or your turntable and by setting a BPM that you will manage to stall every track.
To learn to mix two songs together, you will therefore have to practice your ears;). And that’s what we’re going to do together!
At their time, the first DJs mixed exclusively on vinyl. As you can imagine, there was no BPM display or tempo help. The digital mix did not exist. So you had to learn to wedge your tracks by ear. Besides, there were a lot fewer DJs at that time. Strange, isn’t it?
Hide BPMs to mix two songs together.
Step 3: Setting the frequencies
Little tip. To facilitate the tempo adjustment, you can play on the high frequencies – medium-low, either by increasing the frequencies or by decreasing them.
Example: let’s say there is too much bass in the track I want to stall, then I will decrease the bass to facilitate the stalling. Or again: if there are not enough mediums, I increase the mediums.
Do not hesitate to test different frequency settings. This can greatly facilitate your tempo setting.
CAUTION: these tests are to be done in the headphones and not in the speakers – I like to specify it as much.
Adjust the frequencies correctly on your DJ equipment.
Step 4: count the measurements
Suppose you have a track A and a track B.
Track A goes through the speakers – track B is in your headphones. Your challenge is therefore to set your track B (headphones) at the right time on your track A (speakers).
Well, it will get tough, so stay tuned.
The right time to set your track B (headphones) is when you start measuring track A (speakers). To do this you will have to count the measures.
For a 4-beat piece: “1, 2, 3, 4 – 1, 2, 3, 4 – 1, 2, 3, 4… etc.” – your ideal moment to stall is at “1”. Either the first beat of your measure.
To start your track B (headphones), use the CUE of your turntable or your DJ controller.
Master the CUE point.
Step 5: lower the bass
This is a super important setting. As you will stall your 2 songs at their peak, it is imperative to think about lowering the bass.
WARNING: you risk degrading your sound system – or that of the establishment if you forget to lower the bass. If you mix on your HIFI channel it’s not dramatic, but in a public place, it quickly becomes embarrassing.
Lower bass on the mixer.
Step 6: launch your track B
Did you lower the bass? Perfect, you can now practice launching your track B (headphones) on your track A (speakers). To do this, count the bars of your track A (speakers) out loud. Use your CUE and practice setting your B track (headphones) to the first beat of your A track (speakers) – ie “1” when you count. Attention: not on the 2, nor on the 3, nor on the 4 but on the “1” only!
Step 7: play on speed
This is the most complex step – one that requires the most practice. You will have to define if one of your tracks is slower than the other.
Press your CUE to launch your track at the peak of the moment. Then, let your song scroll by pressing PLAY.
At this point, your mission is to identify your slowest (or fastest) track.
Did you find one? Perfect, you still have to change the speed by accelerating – or slowing down the track that passes in your helmet. Obviously, you must not touch the speed of the track passing through the speakers.
The final word
You now have the basics to learn to mix two songs together. Obviously, you will have to train hard to get results, but the basis is there.
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