The Art Of Mixing - Transition Fundamentals for DJ's
Mixing and DJing are two mutually inclusive events - They depend on each other in some way. You want to be a DJ? You must have mastered the art of mixing different sounds and being able to transition from song to song.
Mixing is creating a sequence of musical tracks mixed to appear as one continuous track - Endless, Connected, Seamless. Mixing could be performed live or recorded in a studio and sold for profit. However, the main reason DJs mix music, is to keep dancers on the dancefloor.
How do you do that? Here's how;
1. Choose songs that are in sync with what's going on the dancefloor.
2. When you see the dancefloor becomes less active, you should have an idea of what track will increase the response of the dancefloor.
3. You are in control - take the audience where you want to with the music. The best mixes are achieved through a symbiotic relationship between the audience and the DJ.
Things to note when mixing;
Structure Of The Song
Knowing how a song is structured is very important in mixing. When you recognize this structure/pattern, it's only then you can start to break it down and shape it however you like. Most songs broken down into 32 bars and usually follow this format;
Intro – 2/4/8/16/32 bars
(Optional Hook/Chorus) – 32 bars
First Verse – 32 bars
Hook/Chorus – 32 bars
Second Verse – 32 bars
(Optional Bridge) – 4/8/16 bars
Hook/Chorus – 32 bars
(Optional extra verse + Hook/Chorus) – 32 bars * 2
Outro – 8/16/32 bars
Basic transitions occur mostly during the outro and intro of a song.
Where the magic usually happens, is when you start your mixing within the different sections of the song (This is also called layering). "knowing your music” becomes extremely important.
Know your music
The importance of Knowing your music cannot be overemphasized. The tracks you use will form the foundation to which your set will be created. You can’t build a fluid set if you don’t have a command of the tracks you’re going to use. Do you have to know every song word for word? No. That would help, but not entirely necessary.
The most important things to understand are; How songs are composed, how a song flows, the format of the song, how instruments sound when they are layered together. All these will help in bringing the best out of your mixes and soon you'll be able to transition between tracks, regardless of the genre.
Put In The Work
The same mindset you put into Djing should also be put into mixing. It takes about 10,000 hours to master a task (that’s 1.14 years), you can’t be a professional creative without a concrete foundation and understanding of the fundamentals. Just like anything in life, you need to put the time in to reap the benefits.
The video below from Crossfader, talks about mixing and transitioning techniques that are applicable to different types of music. Emjoy!