DJ Transitions

antarctica.pngDJ transitions are those parts between each individual track where the DJ is connecting one song to another.

The classical transition is to merge two tracks so the audience does not notice where one ends and the next one starts. In the progressive house movement this was taken to the extreme where it could take minutes before the new track took over.

In this new age of easy beatmapping tools such as Ableton Live, various CDJs, Traktor, and so on, long, seamless transitions is something that anyone could do, as long as they select tracks that easily merge together — either the key or the production sound should be similar to achieve this.

Which leads to my point. I don’t really see that special to even have long, orchestrated transitions nowadays, of many reasons. First, it’s just so boring, as anyone could do it, there’s really nothing creative behind it. Secondly, with the tools we have today one could swap in and out various tracks or sub-tracks all the time, so there’s maybe no need to have a special transition, just a continuous show with some breaks here and there.

Thirdly, it might even be in a DJ session that such transitions will steal energy from the dance floor, maybe it’s better to do something like ‘kicking in the third gear’ now and then to suddenly chance the pace, and the audience mostly likes to be positively surprised compared with being slowly bored.

One reason I started to think about this during my morning bike ride to work was that when I did the rough mix for the next BioWaves episode, the transitions were somewhat different, not the normal ones. I was thinking about if I should change the ordering and line up another set of tracks. But then the light went in my head: it’s good to show different kinds of transitions instead of the normal fade out/fade in ones. So I will stick to the current order and ‘think different’ transitions — I’m sure someone will complain and state that they are not professional, but they are indeed different. I rather have some interesting surprises here and there in a mix, compared with a longer period of mixed-together uniformity.

PS: Here’s a creative challenge, take eight tracks or so, totally random ones, if possible different styles, and either live or by using time line tracks make transitions between those totally different tracks. By being forced to do unexpected transition techniques you might get insight into new tricks you will then use later.

4 Comments:

  1. In the realm of Ableton I completely agree with you here. I’ve been playing out for ten years, and one of my first lessons when I’d first learned to beatmix is that it’s not always the best way to go. I did a set where it was perfectly mixed, but in return the audience was not into it at all. another night I’d mixed a set whilst very drunk – the mixing was awful but my choices of track were more outlandish, and I was met with one hell of a buzzing crowd! Audiences definitely respond to big tempo changes, pretty much the way they would listening to a wonderful chord change etc. I do think that most people think about beat mixing too much, and that’s where it becomes very linear and boring. I tend to think along the lines of trying to mix the beats and the harmonies; this in it’s own way creates a new piece of music out of 2 records, and I think that can justify doing a really long cross-over. I tend to try and knock it down a gear every few songs, almost like an ever-rising sawtooth wave – but even that becomes predicable, so in the end I guess you have to do what a lot of Djs don’t and that’s keep your eye on the audience and weight them up!

  2. Sometimes I feel the whole issue of long/perfect mixing cross-overs is something that DJs do in order to please or show other DJs, not the audience.

  3. Hi Kent, great point. One thing I’ve been doing in my DJ sets is decreasing the time a mix takes, one of NZ’s top DJ’s talked once about “overmixing”, when sometimes, all ya need to do is just slam it in!! As long as it’s in phase, levels correct, etc, its all good. i find the sames predictable mixing boring myself so try to steer away from that. Hey cool site man, I’ve been here for about an hour now, just cruising through. I saw ya on the Logic forum. Email me anytime. Peace!

  4. Insightful and helpful information here. I’ve been stressing out over a mix i’ve been working on for the past two weeks and trying to make it perfect. Thank you for the advice!
    Kp-

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