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Real 'turntable DJ's' - where do they find their tracks?


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So I got to watch a real DJ do their thing the other night. I feel they need a term to differentiate what they do from the people with a CD player or Itunes playlist, just my opinion.

 

We did a private party gig where they brought in a DJ for the after-party. He setup right in front of the stage so I could see what he was doing while we were tearing down. It was pretty amazing. He had 2 USB turntable devices connected to his laptop that were controlling 2 virtual turntables on the laptop. He was dragging .wav file tracks to each virtual turntable and controlling them with the physical ones. Basically cutting out having to carry around crates of LP's.

 

So he was mixing old school and new school, rap, R&B, disco, funk, Hip Hop, rock etc. Of course this is what a lot of us are trying to accomplish with our cover bands, mine included. I'd like to either find some of these already put together that I can listen too or figure out the basics of how they do it.

 

Are these deconstructed tracks available out there? It seems he was able to start a track then keep the bass and drums from that track and layer the vocals and instruments of another track over the top. He'd start say a Lady Gaga song and then put James Brown over the top but it wasn't like playing the 2 songs on top of each other. Anyone know how this is done and if these files are available?

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There are indeed acapella and instrumental versions of pretty much all popular music that has come out in the last decade or two. That's one big advantage to the digital guys -- many of these things just aren't available on actual records, or if they are, they're increasingly rare. Also, keep in mind many times a DJ will cue up a part of a song where there aren't any vocals and just loop that section while playing the acapella of another track, so it's still possible to do even if you don't have an instrumental version available.

 

You'll get significantly more responses asking about this on an actual DJ forum.

 

I use two DJ controllers hooked up to my laptop when we run DJ gigs as well. It's significantly better sounding than just letting {censored} crossfade in iTunes, which is what it seems most local "DJs" are doing. With headphones it's possible to listen to the next track, beatmatch it, cue the start point, check levels, and manually crossfade between the two (or scratch, or mix, etc). Can't do that {censored} on a laptop without a major headache.

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Actually it depends on the software. On the Mac I've got djay, and it will do automatic beat matching, you can program start points and it will remember them, it can do level matching, all kinds of stuff, with just a few clicks. And you have two virtual turntables on the screen, plus a sampler. It's pretty slick and it's also pretty inexpensive. It works better if you connect external controllers, though, because on the screen you can't have your mouse in two places at once, but you could easily do a gig without them.

 

The iPad will change the game, though, because you can be touching the screen with both hands in two different places and it will handle it. I haven't looked at the DJ apps for the iPad, but if they're not awesome now, they will be very soon.

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There are indeed acapella and instrumental versions of pretty much all popular music that has come out in the last decade or two. ... Also, keep in mind many times a DJ will cue up a part of a song where there aren't any vocals and just loop that section while playing the acapella of another track, so it's still possible to do even if you don't have an instrumental version available.

 

 

Often (more so in the 'old days' I'm sure) a DJ uses an extended version of a song...used to be 10" or 12" single remixes, etc.; those were pretty much tailor-made for DJ work and the kind of layering the OP is talking about.

My club days are far behind me, so I have no idea if it's still that common for an artist to have those kind of remixes made/available...

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So I got to watch a real DJ do their thing the other night. I feel they need a term to differentiate what they do from the people with a CD player or Itunes playlist, just my opinion.


We did a private party gig where they brought in a DJ for the after-party. He setup right in front of the stage so I could see what he was doing while we were tearing down. It was pretty amazing. He had 2 USB turntable devices connected to his laptop that were controlling 2 virtual turntables on the laptop. He was dragging .wav file tracks to each virtual turntable and controlling them with the physical ones. Basically cutting out having to carry around crates of LP's.


So he was mixing old school and new school, rap, R&B, disco, funk, Hip Hop, rock etc. Of course this is what a lot of us are trying to accomplish with our cover bands, mine included. I'd like to either find some of these already put together that I can listen too or figure out the basics of how they do it.


Are these deconstructed tracks available out there? It seems he was able to start a track then keep the bass and drums from that track and layer the vocals and instruments of another track over the top. He'd start say a Lady Gaga song and then put James Brown over the top but it wasn't like playing the 2 songs on top of each other. Anyone know how this is done and if these files are available?

 

 

Yep... he was probably using a Numark NS7 or NS6, or similar style digital turntable board. Those are REAL DJ's.... and the one's actually deserving of the $1500-$2500 fees they charge.

 

How they did the "drum-matching".... well partly it's because they have a standard 4-on-the-floor drum beat bumping behind the track, that's also beat-matched to the music. I know on the NS7 and NS6 you can digitally slow down or speed up the tempo of each song to help align and beat-match. You also are able to set it to loop the first 4/8/12/16 bars of a song until you're ready to let the rest of it play-out. Pretty neat stuff... I've often considered picking one up and learning.

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The iPad will change the game, though, because you can be touching the screen with both hands in two different places and it will handle it. I haven't looked at the DJ apps for the iPad, but if they're not awesome now, they will be very soon.

 

idj-live-ipad-1-1024x640.jpg

 

$90 bucks shipped at Amazon. No kidding.

 

I don't have any experience with it in use, I've seen and touched one and it felt like a $90 controller. But for your entry-level DJ market it's a brilliant idea and it'll probably work great. Biggest problem for me is song selection -- it's much easier to be able to use a mouse (or grab a record) than it is to scroll through a list on an iPad.

 

My small go-to controller is a Hercules MP3DJ:

 

hercules_mp3_e2_206.jpg

 

It's small (smaller than you'd think) connects via USB, and transmits MIDI commands to whatever software you use. I've used it with VirtualDJ and Mixx and it works amazingly well.

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