Saturday, March 1, 2014

DJ'ing for Beginners, #3 of 4 Parts

And here's the third part of my "DJ'ing for Beginners" tutorial series. Thanks for all of the support so far, I'm getting lots of good comments already on the first two parts!

Before I get into the good information further down this page, here are links to the other blog posts in this series, and also to the associated videos. By the way, you don't have to watch this series in any particular order:

Part 1's Blog Post                                   Part 1's Video on YouTube
Part 2's Blog Post                                   Part 2's Video on YouTube
You Are Here Now                                   Part 3's Video on YouTube
Part 4's Blog Post                                   Part 4's Video on YouTube
No post for Extras                                     Extras Video on YouTube

What I've done is to record the tutorial in four parts, since each part is fairly long. I also had to add an "extras" section after everything else was online, to cover some things that I noticed I had missed. Overall, the series is close to five hours in length, so each individual video in the series is slightly over an hour long. The information that I covered in this part (#3) includes the following sections, which I talk about in more detail further down this page: Programming and set flow, do you need to beat mix, examining some popular DJ software, & thoughts about Ableton Live?

DJ'ing for Beginners, Part 3 of 4:

In this video I talk about music programming, set flow, mixing styles, beat-mixing (bars and beats and phrasing), mixing in key, DJ software, Ableton Live, and much more.

Here's the outline that I used when putting together this third part of the series:

Programming and Set Flow:
- Think about “contingencies,” ie. problems that might happen, and plan how you'd react to solve them.
- Theory about BPM's and energy levels. Gradually rising, sudden drops.
- Different mixing styles, drawn out versus abrupt.
- The importance of programming. Programming is 80% of your job. If you don't play songs that people like, it doesn't matter how technically skilled you are!
- For those of you playing venues where there will be more than one DJ, learn to be good at being an opening or closing DJ. Understand what the roles are for these two positions within a lineup. If you're the only DJ, you still need to think in terms of “warm-up” and “busy dance floor.”
- Dealing with an empty dance floor. Do you play your great tracks early, or save them?
- Never play a track twice in a night.
- Dealing with Requests.
- Using a microphone effectively.
- What if you need to go to the washroom?

Do you need to Beat Mix?
- Radio mixing, and "chop" mixing or "drop" mixing.
- What is beat mixing/matching?
- Understand counting, bars/beats, and phrasing.
- Maintaining a flow is the most important.
- Planning out a set in advance. Pros and cons. Mostly cons.
- Beat-mixing on CD players. I have a sample mix online.
- Beat-mixing on vinyl. I have a sample mix online.
- Using the cross fader, or not.
- If you're getting frustrated when learning to beat-mix, just walk away for a bit. It's not easy. Practice is the only way to get better, but don't practice when you're frustrated.
- Mixing in Key.

Let's Examine some popular DJ Software:
- DJ'ing software changes very frequently, every couple of years. Rather than reviewing various programs in this video, and making it stale within a year or two, I'll be producing a separate set of review videos. Not available yet.
- General notes about using laptops, CPU, hard drive size, windows versus PC, etc.
- Summary of some of the programs that are currently available, including Virtual DJ, Serato, Traktor, Deckadance, AtomixMP3, DSS DJ, and PCDJ DEX.

What About Ableton Live?
- What is it used for? Can be used for production, for DJ'ing, for remixing, for live PA (performance art) in front of audiences, etc.
- DJ'ing capabilities: it is set up differently than all of the other DJ-specific programs. It seems more like a production suite, but in some ways, it is the most powerful software for DJ'ing.
- Incorporating production work into your set.
- Making a studio DJ mix, my first popular videos.
- Learning to DJ live with Ableton. Mention video series.

Here are all the other videos that were mentioned in Part 3 of the "DJ'ing For Beginners" series:

DJ'ing for Beginners: Beat-Mixing on CD Players:

Sample DJ Set on CD's (SHG 150) using the DJ's CUE perspective:

Sample DJ Set on CD's (SHG 156) using the DJ's CUE perspective:

DJ'ing for Beginners: Beat-Mixing on Vinyl:

Sample DJ Set on Vinyl (SHG 160) using the DJ's CUE perspective:

Sample DJ Set on Ableton (SHG 155) using the Audience's audio perspective:

Sample DJ Set on Ableton (SHG 155) using the DJ's CUE perspective:

Warping Tracks in Ableton:

Making a Studio DJ Mix using Ableton:

Mastering & Marketing your DJ Mix:

First Video in the "Live DJ Performances with Ableton" series:

Finally, if you'd like to download or listen to an audio transcript of this video, as an mp3 from Soundcloud, here's the link:

If you like the sound of any of the tracks played during the breaks between sections, I've got all of them available as free downloads. Go to SoundCloud and do a search for: "dj bolivia global underground"

I have quite a few videos online now relating to DJ'ing, music production, audio recording, learning various traditional instruments, and all kinds of other music-related topics. Hopefully you'll find many of them to be interesting. To see a complete organized list, you should visit and bookmark this page:

Again, thanks for your interest in this series, and thanks for sharing this post or links to any of the videos.

Follow Jonathan Clark on other sites:
        Main Site:
        Music Blog:


If you appreciate the content that I've shared in my blog posts and youtube videos, I'd really appreciate in kind if you could show some support by donating a few dollars to help sponsor tree planting, in order to help fight climate change. I'm very involved in this type of work at my own reforestation company, which builds community forests and forest reserve areas to help the environment. Find out more at this link: