Why You Should Master Your Mixing Fundamentals

September 12, 2018 by Jordan Nelson

If you’ve ever watched a DMC DJ competition you’ve most likely been as blown away as I have by the crazy amounts of talent that the participants possess. From behind-the-back scratching to intense tone-play routines, the DJs seem to always have fresh new ways to mix, transition, and blend the tracks they use in their sets. As mobile DJs, we may not have as many opportunities to utilize such radical mixing techniques in our dance sets, but I contend that the fundamentals, such as beat-matching and understanding phrasing, are some of the most important skills to master.

In most circles, it goes without saying that for someone to be considered a DJ they should have some grasp of beat-matching and an understanding of the structure of popular music. Yet to this day, many DJs are still out at their events doing slow fades from one song to the next or even completely stopping one track before starting another. This isn’t to say that they aren’t successful – they may be excelling in their MC skills or presentation. Mastering the ability to beat-match, however, could be the icing on the cake that takes their performance to the next level.

I’ve seen it time and time again at my own events. Even though I’ve known how to beat match for around 8 years now, I have the occasional choppy transition. Maybe I didn’t match up the tempos all the way or the songs just weren’t meant to go together. Whatever the case may be, I’ve watched as a sloppy transition almost completely stops the action on the dance floor as the guests become confused by the mish-mash of beats. Poor, overly-long transitions can lower the energy on your dance floor quickly and dramatically, leading to a choppy “stop and go” dance set that can kill a party all too soon.

On the other hand, I’ve noticed that the smoother my beat-matched transitions are, the longer my parties go and the more packed the dance floor is. It sounds simple, but all too often DJs become lazy or land in a routine, failing to really aim for perfectly mixed sets. A large part of this skill is truly knowing your music. Coming to understand the length of a song’s intro and outro is crucial to well-mixed transitions. Knowing when and how much bass to take out of one track so their bass lines don’t compete is also extremely important. Finally, lining up one song to end right as the other begins smooths the transition and leads to a seamless mix. It may seem simple, but the tighter we can make our mixes, the better our sets will flow and the more people will pack our dance floors.

If you want to improve your beatmatching skills, the best way to do so is through practice. Find pairs of songs you often use in your sets and practice transitioning from song one to song two, and then from song two to song one. If you are really new to this concept, watch other DJs do it through helpful tutorials on Youtube and Facebook. With time, you’ll lock in a tight mixing control that will make all the difference.

Jordan Nelson Jordan Nelson (77 Posts)

Jordan Nelson is the owner of SLC Mobile DJ in Salt Lake City, UT. A native of the tiny southern Utah town of St. George, Jordan began his mobile DJ journey as a junior in high school. After traveling to Salt Lake to attend the University of Utah, Jordan completely revamped his business and invested heavily in sales and master of ceremonies training, turning his $400/event company into a $1,500/event company in under a year at 22 years old. Jordan developed a strong passion for lighting and lighting programming during his early DJ years and has written 2 books for mobile DJs on the subjects. When he is not spending his weekends at weddings and events, you can find him at the local gun range or hiking with his beautiful wife.

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