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DJ How To Music

How To DJ: A Beginner’s Guide

So you have decided you would like to try to learn how to DJ. Great idea. Even if you don’t do gigs, learning to DJ can be a fun way to play your music at home. Instead of simply pressing play on Spotify or Apple Music, learning how to DJ takes time and practice to get better at. In this article I will explain the basics of how to DJ and what you will need to get started.

How to DJ

First, you will need equipment. Here you have a lot of options. DJ gear can get expensive so think carefully before you make a purchase. Do you own a lot of vinyl records? If so, then buying turntables may be a good idea for you. If you own mostly digital music files, it might be a good idea to obtain a digital set up. Start by heading over to the Pioneer website. You can take a look at a wide range of DJ equipment there.

You can purchase what are called “DJ players”. These are machines which are standalone music players. You would need to purchase 2 players and a also mixer to connect them to. This is what most professional DJs use in clubs. Standalone players can cost thousands of dollars and the mixer to connect them to is generally equally as expensive. One less expensive alternative is to buy a “controller” which you connect to a laptop. This is sometimes viewed as a slightly less reliable set up since laptops can malfunction and have other issues. DJ players are considered to be reliable, dedicated, standalone music players.

What music will you play?

Once you have acquired some equipment, you will need to consider what genres of music you will be focusing on playing. You can purchase your music from a wide variety of online music stores, such as iTunes. I would recommend checking out the website Beatport. It’s a great website to discover new electronic music and it’s a favorite among DJs worldwide. Check out Beatport often for new releases and try to stay up to date with your favorite genres. Spend time listening to a lot of different music to find out what you love the best. Download the tracks you love and add them to your DJ collection.

Learning to mix

Learning to mix is not something that is easily written about. The best DJs are able to create a seamless mix between their tracks. Listeners are taken on a journey through a wide range of music, each song blending seamlessly into the next. That’s the ideal situation. However, sometimes certain tracks do not mix very well. The job of a skilled DJ is to find ways to make tracks sound interesting and complementary when mixed together. A good DJ is a great at improvisation. They know how to correct mistakes quickly if something goes wrong. Having a background in music theory can also help you as a DJ. Remember, practice makes perfect. Learning to mix takes time. Put in hours of practice mixing and you will see improvements over time.

Conclusion

Being a DJ is not extremely difficult, you just need to spend some time doing a bit of research to get started. You will need DJ equipment, music, and the ability to mix that music together in an ear pleasing way. Try to find opportunities to DJ for other people. You will learn what people enjoy and what they don’t. Also, it forces you to keep mixing track after track. Playing live is the best way to hone your skills.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog today. Have a great day.

©2020 Richard Gillespie

Categories
Composition How To Music

Tip for Writing Melodies

In this blog post I will write about an idea that can help you with writing musical melodies. I believe there are really no “good” or “bad” melodies. Art is subjective. What might be a bad melody to you may be brilliant to someone else. That being said, here are some ideas you can use to make your melodies more interesting.

Steps and Leaps

Take the first 5 notes of the C major scale. C D E F G. Play them as a melody. This would be considered a “step-wise” melody. Using step-wise melodies within a song can sound nice because the notes are all close together so the melody sounds very smooth. If you use step-wise motion too much though, the melody can start to sound almost like you are practicing a scale. It can start to sound a bit boring.

What you should do is use a combination of steps and leaps in your melodies. In melody writing, a “leap” is when you do not use the note next to the note that you are currently on. For example, moving from the note C to the note E is considered a leap. Similar to step-wise only melodic activity, melodies using only leaps are not always pleasant for the ear either. Try improvising a quick melody now using only leaps and you will soon hear how your ear wants you to incorporate a step-wise melodic move again.

The melody for “Twinkle Twinkle” is a good example of a combination of steps and leaps within a melody. The melody starts with a leap, C to G, followed by step-wise melodic motion. Try playing this melody now. Think about the varied use of steps and leaps within it and you will hear what I am talking about.

Conclusion

When writing a melody, try using a combination of steps and leaps in your writing. You may already do this naturally in your melodic writing but it is good to think about from a theoretical perspective. Remember, if you use all step-wise motion in a melody, it can start to sound scalar and restricted. Try incorporating leaps into your melodies but balance them with step-wise activity.

Thank you for reading this quick tip on melodic writing today and I will write more blog posts on melodic considerations in the future.

Have a great day.

©2020 Richard Gillespie

Categories
How To Motivation Music Production

How to Get Started With Music Production

Have you ever wanted to produce your own music track but don’t know where to start? In this article I will write about the basics of getting started with electronic music production.

Nowadays, anyone with a smartphone can be a record producer. The second you hit record on any device and play an instrument or sing a sound, you are essentially a music producer. In order to get a more professional sound here is what I would recommend doing.

What you will need

Although you can produce quality tracks on a smartphone or iPad nowadays, I would recommend working with a Desktop PC, Mac, or laptop for music production. I would recommend buying a computer with a strong amount of processor speed, RAM, and hard disk space. I would recommend at least an Intel i5 processor and 8GB of ram to start. Speed of your computer is important if you want to use powerful applications and have a good experience while making your music.

Next you will need a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). This is a piece of software that you will download or install from a disc. There are many DAWs available such as Ableton Live, Fruity Loops Studio, Cubase, Logic, and others. I would recommend Ableton Live because it’s what I use and I am familiar with, but many top producers use these other DAWs as well.

MIDI and Audio

Next, I would recommend acquiring some kind of MIDI keyboard. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This will be how you’ll enter your notes and sounds into your DAW. You may not be a keyboard player, and that’s okay. Even if you are not a great piano player, it helps to have a MIDI keyboard for entering simple melodies, bass lines, and other ideas which you may come up with. You can always increase your keyboard skills as you produce. You can also correct and change melodies that you enter into the software so they sound perfect. It just helps to have a keyboard to enter the notes. You do not necessarily need an expensive keyboard either.

Now, grab a pair of headphones or speakers and connect them to your computer and that’s basically all you need to start making music. You can also buy what are called “audio interfaces”. These are devices which connect to your computer and you can plug microphones, instruments and headphones into these machines. With these devices you can record vocals and instruments like electric guitars.

Tips to Help You Improve

Now I will give a list of tips and tricks that I have learned over the years to help you with your productions.

  1. Learn as much as you can about music theory. In the study of music theory you will learn about notes, scales, chords, chord progressions, rhythms, time signatures, and many other areas of music. This background knowledge is invaluable when you start to compose music of your own. Ideas can flow better when you have a strong theoretical background in music.
  2. Master the shortcuts of your DAW. Every DAW will have various shortcuts that you can use on your keyboard to do certain things within the software. Maybe it’s saving the track you’re working on or copying and pasting one part of a track to another. Just like in a word processor. Knowing these shortcuts can really speed up your workflow. Try to take time at the beginning of learning new software to master the shortcuts. It will pay off in the end with the time you save in making your productions.
  3. Compare your track with professional tracks. Once you get close to completing your track, open up tracks by professional artists and compare your mix to theirs. Professional tracks by top selling artists are sometimes mixed for months before they are released to the public. Engineers will often compare the track they are working on to one of these professional tracks and it is known as a “reference track”.
  4. Listen to other people’s music. This is not to copy other people’s music, but to get an idea of the overall sound or vibe of the genre you are looking to produce in. When DJs go to play tracks in live situations, they look for tracks which sound remotely similar to the other tracks they are going to play that night. If your tracks sounds completely different than any other track out there it might not get played. This point mainly only applies if you are a producer who wants other DJs to play your tracks. If you want to be a completely original electronic artist then just ignore this point. Some artists are creating brand new genres by ignoring the current conventions and that’s a good thing too. It’s all up to you.
  5. Never give up on making music. Never give up on making your music. I have been doing this for over 20 years. There are times I’ve made money and others I haven’t. Don’t make music for money. If you can make money with your music then that’s great. It can allow you to do more of your art. Just don’t give up on music if you don’t make money at it. There is a whole universe of joy to be found in the art of music. It has no limit. So do not give up. Create the sounds you want to make. That’s all that matters.

Conclusion

Electronic music production is a vast and dynamic field that is not easy to thoroughly explain in just one article. This is basic overview of the kinds of processes which producers use to create music tracks in 2020. I hope this can be a starting point for you in your music production journey. If you have any questions about music production please let me know in the comments section and we can all discuss it together.

Thank you for reading this blog and have a great day.

©2020 Richard Gillespie