Starting Out

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Nov 9, 2007
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Hey guys,

I've searched through the forums and know this has been asked before, however, to each his own. :)

It is approaching the three year mark that I have been turned on to EDM, specifically Trance, and I really like what I hear. Monkey hear, monkey do: I've become interested in learning the art of DJing myself. However, the sky is the limit and there's so much to learn that I don't know where to start. I don't know what a turntable or an equalizer does. I don't know the pros and cons of using vinyl or cd's or mp3's. As far as I know, the only difference between House and Trance is BPM.

Basic information:

I'm a 16 year old male currently in High School. I live in North East USA. I plan to work with trance / progressive. I guess I'd start out mixing songs together [I just discovered the monthly DJ contest today - I plan to enter that someday :)] and gradually, with time and experience, move on to creating my own works.

What I need to know and need help with is:

  • What the difference is between genres [which is harder to work with and why, etc.]

  • Difference between mixing Vinyl / Cd's / Mp3
  • Does software play any other role besides recording? I have FL Studio 8 xxl edition. Is this sufficient or would I need to buy a different one? And is a keyboard [not a computer keyboard] a must-have?
  • Basics on how to start out [Tips & Tricks]
  • Basics on what I need to do to start making a set to submit to the DJ contest [Do I have to change anything to the track or just select the part I want and fuse it together with the rest?]
  • Suggestions and recommendations on which equipment to get [Which is essential; those which aren't required but may improve performance and how] based on limited capital.

    aim: d1sturbdepeace
    I have most of your facebooks already
*Any and all help is greatly appreciated.*

tried to answer loosely in order of your post

as a fart or a cough or a burb on a 16th, 8th or quarter note creates a new genre these days this question is hard to answer. :)
also a lot of genres are only to be separated by minute nuances.
when does a prog house track become prog trance, when does electro move into tech?
so that question i leave to answer to peeps who think are in the know - only to devalue their opinion with other examples.:mask:
speaking of examples, a good overview but to be taken with a pinch of salt due to the authors bias would be Ishkur's guide to EDM (hope you don't mind the disclaimer of another EDM station {where the whole guide originated} but Ishkur used to be a frequent poster there...where are you buddy?)

the medium you settle on is first and foremost dependent on your amount of disposable money.
and time, but to some that's the same.
also your chosen genre will play a not so insignificant part here.
be aware that sourcing your music will take time and sometimes great lengths.

the classic but also the most expensive is vinyl
- just how you should learn it, the sweaty hard skin creating heavy crates lifting hard way, no technical trickery like automated beatmatching and key change (things you will need to master by ear one way or the other to create a set that's enjoyable)
- credibility within the DJ community as this is the "one true art" [sic]
(if you can say so but nowadays that would be saying only oil paintings are true art)
- feel to it
- expensive
- harder to source tracks (then, some releases will always be vinyl only)
- running costs of TTs = stylus/cartridges
- in clubs (esp smaller ones) it's getting actually quite hard to still find TTs
- degradation of vinyl (scratches etc / but to some genres e.g. dnb it adds character)

CDs and mp3s can be loosely put together as every mp3 can be burnt to CD (except if you shop at iTunes)
and every CD (but also vinyl for that matter) can be ripped and saved as an mp3.
with the appropriate hardware (midi controller a la exponent )
the mixing experience can be similar to CDJs (which is a name for Pioneer decks but in general used for "CD mixing".
you can also emulate the vinyl experience with Serato
and torq using time coded vinyl for manipulating your mp3s (or.wavs if you have the storage and money for the surcharge)
but you will still need TTs.
also you can entirely mix in software, the "lazy" way but still a valuable option as not only technique of mixing but the overall creation of a set "that works" is important. i said it on another forum (no, not DI) that i prefer a software jock that can create a flow anytime over a "working" DJ who has good technique but doesn't create feel and atmosphere.
though it may look as if the software DJ may just be checking his e-mail.
also the cheapest option for, uhm, djing
however, mp3s should be of good quality, minimum 192kbps, recommended 320kbps but if you have funds and storage go for the .wav format in 1411kbps.
the latter is a big file 60-70 mb for a 5-6 mins track, 20 mb in 320 and just above 10 mb in 192 (very loose figures here, just an example)
refrain from sub-par tracks from filesharing sites (ripped sets -extracted tracks),
support the scene and the artist's creativity.

for recording your software is sufficient

midi controllers (the not-computer-keyboard) come in different flavours and are NOT essential.
you may want to use one once you got to grips with mixing and want to introduce effects etc.
for production purposes (=making your own tracks) I find a midi controller very helpful for ease of work flow but again, totally unessential and down to personal preference.

start out here
YouTube - Dj tutorial, How to beat mix , without touching the platter
or google for similar stuff...

first off you shouldn't start mixing with the aim of entering a competition.
that you can do once you're secure in your flow and kinda found your style.
please don't add to the myriad of halfbaked sets full of trainwrecks and waste your potential followers' time
also you won't achieve good results within I'd say at least half a year, if you're a wunderkind maybe less - but unlikely.
you're up against stiff competition and peeps who know their stuff and been spinning for far longer than you.
some of them you can wake up at 2 AM and they will spin you a set blindfolded with one arm tied to the back that still blows you away.
Except you get kicks out of rejection and are a huge fan of de-motivation.
check if you have a feel for the music (best to start with one genre and master that before you confuse yourself and suffer severe input overload.
the key is practice, practice and practice and once you had enough of that you should go and practice.
know your music, listen to other sets and develop an ear for harmonies.
once you analysed the structure of tracks of your preferred/chosen genre you will find loads of hooks within tracks than can be used to start transitions. did i mention practice already? with that you will also start to mash tracks together.

go to a dj equipment dealer in your area and play with the gear.
keep in mind that djing will always cost money
once you've found the medium you're comfortable with this discussion can continue.
but in the meantime I hope other peeps will give you some input as my post is far from complete.

final note - if you go for a DJ name, please refrain from putting DJ in front of it, so yesteryear and out of style.
but if you really have to make sure you're actually spinning discs. :grinning:

i started on vinyl 15 years ago, spun for 5 years actively and had a 7 year break afterwards with only some check-if-I-caan-still-hack-it sets and got back into spinning a couple of years ago when I bought a pair of Denon players and some mixer.
Presently i use a CDJ1000, a CDJ800, a Denon DN-S 3500 and an UREI 1603 mixer but have also a laptop with Traktor 3 and Live 7 with a couple of midi-controllers (BCD3000, Edirol PCR30, TriggerFinger and some old Evolution multi-knob thing) at my disposal.
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wow the above reply is huge, but completely true.

only thing i would add is - don't let all of that scare you. all you need is passion and dedication to what you're doing, and you will certainly master your skills.
wow the above reply is huge, but completely true.

only thing i would add is - don't let all of that scare you. all you need is passion and dedication to what you're doing, and you will certainly master your skills.
...and a lot af patience and precious time... (three years of mp3 mixing and still learning, people who say mp3 is easy are wrong imo.)
I've always said that the overall musical theory and technical theory behind DJing isn't really what people should focus on when they first start out. The best advice I ever got which is as valid today as it was when I received it myself nearly 10 years ago, was this:

1) Know your tunes.
2) Practice.

If it was all about theory then the world's pool and snooker champion would be the guy with the finest degree in advanced geometry and physics. But it's not, it's the guy who spent the most hours at the table practising :music:

Learn by making mistakes and constantly trying to better yourself :grinning:
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