This question could be open to different opinions, however for the purpose of this article we're going to assume that this means "How to long does it take to be able to play a continuous DJ set by blending tracks together using modern technology and tools".
Now it gets interesting...
Firstly, we don't want to undermine other DJs or make the art of DJing seem incredibly simple because it's not just about mixing tracks - it's about personality, crowd engagement, track selection as well as many other things. There are incredibly talented DJs who are able to do all of these things as well a actually produce their own music - that takes talent.
However for the sake of this article we're going to look at how long it would take to learn how to mix tracks together to produce a continuous set.
So let's get to the point. Here's the basic steps required to mix one track into another, from the outro of one track to the intro of the next track:
Assuming you've pressed play on the previous track (and it's current playing), select the next track that you want to play and load it into your decks/mixer software.
Line up the correct section of the track you've just selected. Normally this would be the start of the track, but if there's cue points available then press the first cue point. This should take you right to the beginning (on the first beat).
Adjust the BPM (Beats per minute, the tempo of the track) of the track you've just loaded to match that of the track that's currently playing. If the current track is 128 BPM, adjust the slider on the side of the track you've just loaded to match this value. This is so that when you play it, both tracks will play at the same speed.
Step 4Press the 'Sync' button on the track that you've loaded. This means that when you press play the mixer software will automatically synchronise the beats of the two tracks together. This is something that's called 'beat-matching' and takes time to learn. Ideally it's good practice to learn how to do this by ear incase you have a technical failure when playing live, but for the point of this article, modern technology can do this for you. It's actually common for club DJs to mix using this feature.
At this point, you should make sure that the knob that controls the 'bass' filter on the track that you're about to play is turned fully to the left (turned right down, anticlockwise). This means that the bass of this new track won't get in the way of the previous track (it can sound muffled and distorted otherwise if you have two bass layers playing).
When the track that's currently playing gets to the outro section, press play on the track you've loaded exactly on the outro beat. The main thing that matters is that you press play on the correct beat. Imagine that you count from 1 to 4 on every beat throughout a track. You should press play on the count of 1 when the intro section of the track that's playing comes around.
The software will then match the beats of both tracks and make sure they are synchronised.
Now, both tracks are playing together. In your own time (within the first 15 - 30 seconds of pressing play on the new track - however this varies based on genre) switch the bass filters, by turning up the bass on the new track and turning down the bass on the track that is about to end.
That's the process. Obviously the exact buttons to be pressed and the timings of when exactly to press play will vary (as tracks have different structures) but this is the basic principle of how to mix one track into another.
Repeat this process by loading up a new track, and do the same again.
So how long does this process take to learn?
Depending on how quickly you can pick up new concepts, for some people it can take 20 minutes to get the hang of it. For others, it may take an hour or more.
In theory though, if you're able to mix from the outro of one track to the intro of another, over and over again then you're able to string multiple tracks together at once - which is DJing in it's simplest form.
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Depending on the genre of music that you make, you may want to include vocals and lyrics in your tracks.
Whether that's writing lyrics from scratch and singing yourself or using vocals snippets and adding them in certain parts of your track. Maybe you've found a vocal loop on Splice and you want to add it onto your melody.
However you plan to do it, here are some top tips on blending vocals into your track and getting the best out of every vocal sample that you use...
Wet or dry vocals
Usually, when you download samples they're displayed as 'wet' or 'dry'. This relates to whether or not they have effects already added to them.
Dry vocals will sound raw, as if they've not not had anything done to them - no effects. Whereas wet vocals may sound like they've had reverb or another effect added to them.
When you add vocals into your mix, they should have at least some reverb applied. This helps the sound of the vocals to blend in and sit nicely with the rest of the mix. If you're using 'dry' vocal samples, it's a good idea to add a small amount of reverb onto them.
If the vocals you download are 'wet' this likely means that they will already have reverb or other effects applied. You can add this to you mix and in theory (depending on the genre you're going for) these vocals should blend in nicely with the other elements of your track.
Very rarely do professional tracks with lyrics only use one vocal layer. They tend to be several layers of the same vocal sample with different effects applied to each one.
It's a good idea to choose your main vocal sample and have that playing in the centre (no panning), then duplicate this sample and have one version panned to the left and one panned to the right (slightly lower volume than the main version). This is how you can create a wider sounding vocal.
You can also adjust how the left and right vocal sample line up with the main (centered) sample. For example you could move these panned vocals slightly out of sync from the main sample to add a 'delay' type of effect.
Want to learn more about using vocals within your tracks? Visit our homepage.
Making music is all about getting creative with the tools you have. This starts with having the right tools in the first place.
Developers are making new synthesizers for music software constantly, but what are the most popular ones used by some of the most talented world-class DJs?
Available here: https://www.lennardigital.com/sylenth1/
Available here: https://www.reveal-sound.com/
Available here: https://refx.com/nexus/
Obviously, it's a case of finding the right sound for the track you're working on - but when you download these synthesizers they come with a range of factory presets that you can use to start creating your own sounds.
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Put simply, sidechain compression reduces the volume of the initial part of a sound, then increases the volume shortly after for the remainder of the sound. This all happens in the space of a beat. The purpose of this is to allow for other elements (most commonly the kick drum) to be heard more clearly in the mix.
An example plugin which adds sidechain compression in FL Studio can be seen below:
You can see that the purple circular control allows you to change the amount of sidechain that is applied onto the sound, while the wave-looking options on the bottom right allow you to control the type of sidechain that you want to apply to the sound.
In general, by adding sidechain to an element you're allowing the kick drum to stand out more, rather than getting drowned out by other elements such as the bassline or vocals.
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If you know about DJing, you'll know that it's common practice to use a high pass filter to remove the bass on the buildup, in order to create suspense for the drop. This allows the bass of the drop to feel more powerful.
Generally, there are two types of filters - high pass and low pass.
Using a high pass filter means that you're allowing 'only the high frequencies to pass through' so you are left without any bass. It's useful to apply this filter on a buildup where you would normally remove the bass frequencies ready to bring them back in for the drop.
Whereas a low pass filter muffles the sound. It removes the high frequencies and only allows the low frequencies to pass. This can be useful when you want to bring in or fade out certain elements (such as vocals or melodies). An example might be at the end of your drop, where you want to bring in another elements or pattern ready for the break.
In general, these high and low pass filters are mainly used with automation clips which control the amount of filter you want to apply at certain times within the track. You set the parameters by dragging the automation clip and the filters will automatically be adjusted at the required parts of the track.
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If you are a music producer, you would use the mixer to control how loud or quiet each element sounds, relative to one another within the track. When you want an element such as a main vocal to sound louder within your electronic music track, generally the slider adjustment for this vocal in the mixer should be higher up compared to your other elements. Obviously this depends on the volume that you have the vocal sample set to initially.
You can see the FL Studio mixer from the image above. Whenever you assign an element from your track to a mixer channel, any effects (which can be seen on the right hand side as a list) will be applied to that particular element.
Move the vertical bars (faders) up or down depending on how much you'd like that element to stand out within the whole track.
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