Using Cuepoints In Your DJ Set

Using Cuepoints - Traktor DJ

Using Cuepoints when DJ-ing is one of the biggest advantages of a digital set-up- here are 5 great ways to use them

Digital DJ-ing brought with it a bounty of features that weren’t possible with vinyl. Many of these related to the fact that digital mediums were able to jump instantly from one point in a track to another, with no discernable gap.

This made creating continuous loops possible, and instant cueing at the push of a button. As a result of this, modern DJ software and digital DJ hardware offers a variety of hot-cue and loop functionality.

If you’re new to DJ-ing, you might wonder how to go about using cuepoints in your DJ set.

Here are 5 great places to set your cues.

Using Cuepoints - Traktor Kontrol Z2 DJ Mixer and Controller

1. Let’s start at the beginning

Of course, the most obvious place to have a cuepoint is at the very beginning of a track, so that when you press a hot cue button, it will start to play the track from the beginning.

However, when mixing (particularly when beat matching) this isn’t always a great place to start from. A track might have an arrhythmic, ambient or spoken word intro, for example, making synching it to the track being played very difficult.

In this regard, it can be worth having a cuepoint at the actual start of a track, and at the start of the music itself (say, when the beat kicks in, for example).

DJ Kool Herc

2. Here are the breaks…

Kool Herc did it first, and the result was Hip Hop. Using breaks to ramp up audience energy levels is still great technique, however.

So, if a track has a drum break, bass solo, or any other sort of musical break that sends the crowd into a frenzy, then set a cuepoint at the start of it (alternatively 4 or 8 bars before, if you prefer). You can then work it into a set whenever you feel like it.

Using Cuepoints - Native Instruments S2

3. Where time becomes a loop. Where time becomes a loop. Where time…

One of the great things about using cuepoints is that you can extend, shorten or re-edit a track however you see fit, on the fly.

A key tool when doing this is finding sections that can be seamlessly looped. Then, you need to be able to jump to them at the press of a button… So, set a cuepoint for any loops.

Pioneer DDJ Ergo V DJ Controller

4. This is the end…

You’ll also want to be able to jump to an outro section whenever you feel like it (particularly useful when creating a shorter version of a track).

Creating a cue point for an outro section is very handy.

5. You don’t have to use them…

Back in the early days of computer sequencers, producers would sometimes use regions on a spare track to indicate where verses, choruses, solos, or any other sections of a track occurred.

You can use cuepoints in a similar manner when DJ-ing (if using a computer software-based set-up, or a device with a display that shows where your cuepoints are…)

You can put cuepoints to indicate where any significant changes happen in the track- vocals kicking in, solos, choruses, or anything else.

Get used to using cuepoints in your sets, and your performances will suddenly become a whole lot more inventive…

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