Trends change from time to time, and so as the taste and flavor of music. The industry has adopted synced devices and MIDI controllers, replacing the traditional beatmatching. Now, people have rated the art of beatmatching as an obsolete trend, which is certainly not ok for a DJ like you. In this post, we will explain some benefits of learning traditional way of DJ-ing, which will help you in the times to come.
Before we start, keep in mind that this post is not against computer based mixing. It’s more inclined towards proper DJ-ing. You’ll learn to evolve from the very basis – foundations laid by the pioneers of this art.
Well, you won’t face too many hardships if you’d already be mixing through laptops, iPads and a couple of controllers. In fact, learning with turntable will add value to your art. Just spend some time with the turntable and, whenever needed, you can show the world, you were made to rock!
When it comes to DJ market, technology has enhanced quite a lot, replacing old ways of music mixing. Since the last decade (say 2005), it has changed significantly.
- That was the time when scratching vinyl CDs used to be the latest technology and Pioneer CDJ 1000’s were ruling all over the place.
- That was the time when DJs used to carry CD crates, instead of record crates.
- Computers were not part and parcel of the DJ booth, unless there was a need for lighting or recording.
Things have changed and now hardly any DJ booth lacks a laptop, CDJs or MIDI controllers. This is a great setback for turntables, because new DJs find this device a little harder to understand. It’s not their fault, it’s the fate of the device that the youth cannot figure out how to use a turntable with outdated technology in a DJ or sound mixing setup.
But that doesn’t mean turntables will be vanished. They’re back with all the latest technologies and improvements, and are looking to regain their place. So, here are 6 good reasons why you, as a new DJ, should get cracking with vinyl records.
- Feel the Music Naturally, Without Computers
Come out of the “techno-world” for a while, listen to the music naturally and ask yourself, “How does it feel this way?” The feeling may not be overwhelming, but it’ll certainly make you feel different and fresh. Why?
As soon as you turn on the track on your laptop, you’ll get that unhuman and robotic feel that may seem attractive, but it won’t last long. Turntable on the other hand is all about natural sound. It’ll never bore you and you’ll keep listening to the music till the last track on the vinyl.
Turntables come with two types of motor these days and they may be categorized into two types:
- Belt-driven turntables; they have a separate motor and platter, attached by means of belt loop. This setup is meant to minimize vibrations.
- Direct drive turntables; they have a motor underneath the platter as its part. The motor gives a torque feel to the platter, as well as consistent speed.
You’ll experience some fluctuation with respect to BPM and inconsistent feel in the music.
There are two interconnected reasons for such inconsistency:
- The motor of the turntable spins the platter, which is entirely analog.
- The sound comes out from a digitized program or processor.
Moreover, there may be some wear and tear in the vinyl record that would make you deduce,
- It needs to be sped up to attain the right BPM, or
- It should be slowed down because of the faster pitch control
You can use this weakness of analog record playing to your advantage. It’s rather an essential factor for traditional sound mixing. If you’re able to feel this difference in sound naturally, you’ll be able to tune your mix better. You won’t be able to experience this fluctuation with computer that always plays sound at a constant speed.
- You’ll listen to the Music More Frequently
One cannot deny the fact that online music is in abundance, which means you’ll take about 10 to 20 minutes (even less) to create your playlist. You just need to know the blogs and news sites feeding underground music at a rapid pace, and hit that download button.
That’s fairly easy. Anyone can become a DJ with hundreds of music sources online. Don’t you feel like losing your charm soon? What to do? Simply, listen to, and grab those tunes that others don’t have.
- Plenty of labels releasing electronic music also release vinyl.
- Many of the labels only release vinyl – a limited edition album or something like that.
- Some might allow only few tracks to be pressed and released as vinyl, and restrict digital distribution of those tracks.
Keep in mind, you need to stand out. So, take a step forward and leave technology behind you in search of unique tastes and flavors of high quality music.
- Dig through the vinyl records available in local music stores. It will help you clear your mind and find some rare tracks.
- Shop online for vinyl records, if you think that the local stores don’t have the kind of items you’re looking for.
You may get the sample of old disco or jazz tunes that are still famous, but can only be found in vinyl.
- You’ll learn to Scratch Records
You may find scratching and turntablism a little bit odd, but when the sound plays, you’ll automatically feel the urge of “baby scratching” and playing around. It has to happen, since you’re the mixer and you’re here to play.
For new DJs, scratching can be a great skill to have in early days.
- It shows you the way to cue up mixes properly
- You can polish your DJing skills, for the most important moments.
- You’ll learn to understand the sounds of specific waveforms as they’re scratched.
- Finally, you’ll learn to record unique sounds
Although, you may have that all-in-one system that helps you scratch the sound through your laptop, but scratching is more than using your index finger to push that 6-inch jog made of plastic (that sounds materialistic, isn’t it?).
- You’ll learn to Respect Your Art
You might know what the “Old Folks” used to do before all those USB players, CDJs, Rekordbox and Traktor.
- Pre-selecting records from a large collection.
- Sorting and playing them in order to understand the music structure,
- Figuring out the key using guitar or piano
- Using colored stickers to label moods,
- Marking cue points with the help of tape
- Defining and organizing genre on their own
Think about a 4-hour booking, or even a 2-hour booking. You’d have to prepare yourself with organized records, marked tracks and labels for different moods. They say, you have to bring twice as much as what you’re supposed to play.
Imagine, how time consuming and focus oriented it used to be for those DJs of the past. How many crates they had to bring along? But younger DJs take these things for granted. Weight of the crate is one thing, think about how much time they used to spend only for planning? Ideally, one would spend more time in selecting records, if he has to choose 20 from his 50 favorite records.
That’s enough to understand how respectable your pioneers are, who didn’t have these modern tools to their aid.
- You’ll be More Dedicated to Your Work
With more and more youngsters joining the field and replacing veterans, you have a chance to build a good network of resources to learn the art in great depth. You can talk to the veterans and always learn a thing or two from each of them.
- How they used to play in their time
- How you can adopt their style
- What elements you need to include in your style to stand out from the crowd
- What unique methods they used in their concerts.
There are more possibilities and opportunities to groom quickly. Plus, you can always share your thoughts on implementation of modern tools in sound mixing.
- You’ll Nurture Your Musical Taste
It’s a present trend that DJs showing up for the first time in a particular club, try to do these things:
- First week – Playing latest tracks
- Second week – Spinning techno
- Third week – Spinning deep house
What they do is, give a culture shock to their dancing audience with this kind of sound switching, although diversity is a great thing. Anyhow, there are some sound that can’t be mixed. A Hardwell style progressive house mixed with Stefano Noferini’s minimal techno is almost impossible.
When you start to spin vinyl, you’ll be questioning yourself upon every purchase. You may find a good song on one side of the record, but the other one has nothing to impress you. Should you go for it or continue to search for the gem? That depends upon how much you can pay. Vinyl is expensive, and good teacher as well. It’ll help you nourish your taste for music and mixing.
There’s no harm to begin with vinyl mixing, since your audience is getting mature with time. They like to listen to quality music and some of them have already learnt to differentiate sound qualities. Records are still not easy to come by, and they’re expensive too. But they’ll make you feel good, choose better and mix the best. And that’s what you’ll be aiming too.