Many think that the only requirement to becoming a successful DJ is having loads of natural talent. While that’s true in part, it’s not the only requirement. Understanding that being a DJ doesn’t just require natural talent is the first step in the right direction. Discipline, and more specifically the ability to control crowd energy, is absolutely necessary for success. But what is energy discipline you may ask? It’s simple. It’s the art of controlling the ups and downs of your music or rather, it’s all about knowing when to excite your audience or let them breath. Here are a few tips for controlling the energy for DJs who are just beginning.
Music Affects Everyone
Regardless of culture or musical tastes everyone is influenced by music. Whether the lyrics of a particular song are mindless banter, in a different language, or there are no lyrics at all, the rhythm and tempo of the music will be enough to carry a person through. Often people pay no attention to lyrics and are driven by the beat and feel of the music. Does this song have the right kind of energy; does it make me want to dance? These are all questions avid music listeners and show goers ask. Taking that into consideration, it is of the utmost importance that any aspiring DJ understands how music affects people, and that they tailor their set to match.
From the Peaks to the Valleys
Energy control is absolutely necessary for the success of any DJ’s set and fortunately it’s a skill that can be learned. When you move vertically from the mountain highs to the valley lows, and horizontally from the empty to the full you put a lot of demands on your listeners. This is because music has a physical effect on people. The way certain music is played can cause listeners to become sad, or feel excited and full of optimism.
The tempo of a particular piece determines how quickly the music should be played, while the rhythm determines when listeners get excited, and when they rest. If you play too many exciting or resting tracks in a row you run the risk of wearing your audience out or putting them to sleep. While neither should be overused, the correct balance will leave your listeners wanting more.
I’ve seen it more than once where a young, aspiring DJ decides to play track after track of exciting, danceable music. While this seems like the no-brainer approach to Djing it’s actually a recipe for disaster. This is because people constantly need a change of pace and direction. Keeping things new for your audience is a sure fire way to guarantee their satisfaction. Here is how to do it.
Managing the rhythmic flow of your music will determine how well people can groove to it, and ideally you want them to groove as long as they can. To aid in this you need to utilize energy control as it applies to rhythm. This means that the goal of rhythm is to tell your audience when to get excited and when to rest. If you have too much excitement and not enough rest people will get worn out before your set is done, give them too much rest and not enough excitement and they’ll become bored and leave. Once you give someone a bad taste about your music, it will be hard if not impossible to win them back.
Greg Davis is highly interested in all aspects of music. He’s a more than casual listener who enjoys working in the music industry as a writer and stage hand at various events. When not working or writing about music he can be found dancing at local concerts and shows hosted by a San Diego DJ
photo credit: Merlijn Hoek and Kris Krugvia photopin cc
2 thoughts on “Tips from a DJ: Why Controlling the Energy is Important”
Selection is THE most important thing about a DJ. Knowing when to build to a peak and when you can take them deeper is a skill derived from careful observation of the dance floor. It’s easy to throw down hit after hit, but to take the dancefloor on a journey will stand out in people’s memories. Also, openers have to be careful not to take the energy too high, or there’s a risk of burning everyone out before the headliner plays.
Yes, you make a valid point. There are many things to consider when starting out as a DJ.