Our good friend Lamebot has supplied us with a great tip for our ‘Tips from a DJ‘ segment. He discusses here how to mix tracks with different tempos. According to the chart he supplies he suggests we ‘Mix like an Egyptian‘.
Beat matching is perhaps the single most important thing about DJing. Matching BPM’s is the easiest tool one can use when learning the basics or setting up playlists. The issue arises when we start to lock ourselves in to single bpm’s for sets. Not that it cant be done, or that playing an entire set in one bpm isn’t challenging, but when you’re playing live sets, reacting to the floor is the best way to ensure future bookings. Your job as a DJ is to rock the venue and keep people dancing. The more they dance, the more potential drinks are bought. If your payment is a percentage of the door or bar, this is essential.
How to Mix tracks with Different Tempos
Switching between various bpm’s can give your sets a sense of motion and emotion, taking the audience on a journey of sound instead of just playing cued tracks.
One of the main rules of switching bpm’s is doubling and half timing. If you’re playing some funky house at 120 bpm and want to drop into some 70-bpm dubstep, there are two ways to make that transition smoothly. You can either half (or double) the bpm of your current track (for example, drop to 60 bpm using the grid buttons in Traktor) and then transition. The second way is to simply play a transition track in the proper bpm (i.e. double time or half time of the current bpm) and then drop the new track.
Ambient tracks are amazing to use for transitioning to different bpm’s quickly. Here you can apply the same rule I use to blend tracks that may not be in the proper key, or to add more drama to your newly created build or breakdown. In these instances, I normally employ the use of a huge delay tail. The bass should be dropped out to make the new track more prominent. You can do this by turning your filter knob to the high pass or by EQing out the low end and tweaking the high and mid so it’s not too piercing. The next track can then be eased in once the delay tail is in effect.
There are various other ways to switch up bpm’s so don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve tried to simplify my method in this chart.
It shows how you can move along varying bpm’s flawlessly. You can move clockwise or counterclockwise along either circle until you reach your switch point. You can also effortlessly move between the inner and outer circles since they are either double of half each other. This is similar to the Russian Peasant Algorithm or the Ancient Egyptian multiplication method, which involves halving one number and doubling the other. Not that any of that matters, but I figured I’d share a little nugget of trivial knowledge.
Aside from how to mix tracks with different tempos, Lamebot has more great content over on his blog along with an awesome DJ mix that employs the methods explained in this article. Head over and take a listen, it’s a great set.