If you feel your DJ set has been re-treading old ground of late, here’s 5 ways to freshen it up…
Regardless of the gear you are currently using to perform your DJ set, you’d be hard-pressed to ignore the digital revolution that’s taken place in the DJ World in recent years.
Performance moved from vinyl (somewhat reluctantly in some quarters…) to CDs, which offered a new level of performance control. Nowadays, the laptop, software and DJ controller has raised the bar for sheer power and versatility, once again.
If you’re still using a more traditional set-up, you may well wonder, ‘what can a software based DJ set up offer me?’
If you have asked yourself that question, or are looking for ways to stamp your own signature onto your DJ set, read on. Here are 6 ways to invigorate your DJ set.
One of the first technological advances when CD decks started to appear was the ability to loop ections of audio seamlessly. The uses for this range from simple, and practical, to more creative.
At its most simple, looping intro or outro sections to provide more time to beat-match, or build into the next track. More creative uses can include using a section of one track as an intro to another, or a break from one to reinforce another.
One of the most commonplace modern uses is to decrease the loop length incrementally, to create a repeating, glitchy outro to segue into the next track.
As with all musical tools, the limit is your imagination…
Just about every DJ software package is equipped to provide some form of effects. By this, we mean echoes, chorus and modulation type effects, distortions and many more besides.
So, if you want to add some Dub, sound system style endless delay effects to your DJ set, you can. Want gradually turn up an effect to max, before dropping your next track? No probs. With filters and other FX, you can create your own style and add new flavour to tracks. Combine with loops, and the world is yours
Whilst sample technology has been a part of the creative DJ set for some time (being included on some DJ mixers for well over a decade) it is only really in the last few years that it has ‘come of age’.
Now, the major DJ software developers have adapted the sampling features of their software to embrace a new breed of performance DJ. DJs commonly create live remixes on the fly, with software geared up to enable it.
Far from the ‘make some noise’, ‘hands in the air’, air horn or crowd noise samples for which samples within a DJ set have become a little stereotyped, the new sample features can trigger anything from percussion loops, to vocal samples, acapellas, single hits.
For those who want to add a performance element to their set, themed sample sets are now available to buy.
Whether you want complete disassemble and rebuild a track live, or just add some fresh flavour, however, samples add enormous scope.
Someone once said that the difficulty in using a computer in a live situation is avoiding looking like you’re checking your emails…. They had a point. Many DJs of the vinyl and CDJ fraternity have even accused laptop based DJs as being ‘button-pushers’. How very dare they… 😉
Thankfully, there are now countless DJ controllers aimed at providing accurate, hands-on control of DJ sets performed with computers. These range from familiar, twin platter designs, to more unique, live remix oriented designs, such as the Novation Twitch.
Native instruments has embraced this live performance movements with developments such as the F1 controller, whilst recently, Numark unveiled its innovative wireless controller, the Orbit- designed specifically to bring the performance to the audience.
The options are endless…
Find new music
This is so obvious that it often gets overlooked completely. If you want your DJ set to be fresh, new, exciting music is the means to do it.
It’s very easy to head over to one of the big DJ download sites, and grab whatever is big at that point in your chosen genres, but the rub is that the reason that they’re big is that EVERYONE is buying them…
Depending on the sets you play, having in-demand tracks clearly has a place. However, if you want to set yourself apart, it’s better to be a tastemaker than a trend-follower.
So, how can you get ahead of the curve and find great tracks that no one yet knows about? Well, you need to go ‘off-piste’.
One of the great things about music on the net is that there are thousands of independent music blogs. These tend to be incredibly honest as they don’t have to answer to anyone, financially or otherwise, and so can be a great place to check out new and upcoming artists.
A great place to start is Hype Machine. This is a collection of links to great music blogs, all in one place, and is a great place to get some musical inspiration. Follow the link here…
Whether you use all of the above, or none, remember that a great DJ set starts and ends with great music.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.