Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 332: A DJ Tutorial from the worlds number 1 DJ.

When I saw a video on youtube with the above mentioned title, how could I not blog it.

Some golden information here perfect for beginners and pros alike:




Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 331: Your chance to get to play at Glastonbury.

It's the mother of all UK festivals, and anyone who's ever been will tell you how vast and varied the whole event is. I've loved it every time I've been, even the last time which was soaking wet, was the best fun I ever had in a wet field in fairness.

Although I think the festival has seen it's hey day as a festival of fringe and exciting artists (at least on the main line ups) there is still a great amount of exciting music to be heard there if you look for it.

Now is your chance to be one of those exciting artists. In association with Q Magazine, Glastonbury has set up an Emerging talent competition. This is your chance to perform at this legendary event. I'm not sure if Q Magazines involvement implies they are looking for more Rock based acts, but I can tell you for one I'll certainly be sticking a demo in. Gotta be in it to win it etc.

Find out full details here:




Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 330: How to Quickly Warp tracks in Ableton for DJing

So you wanna DJ in Ableton, or maybe you just want to make a killer mix tape. So you heard that using Ableton was what every DJ was doing these days and that it was easy right. DJing with a computer? Anyone can do that...

So why are your mixes sounding catastrophic? You thought it was just drag and drop right?


Don't get me wrong, DJing in Ableton, at least at a very basic 'blending tunes' level is easier than learning to beat match on conventional turntables etc. But that doesn't mean it doesn't come with it's own problems, and the most important of all is Warping.

Amazing as Ableton is, it's algorithm for calculating the beat locations etc on a track when you import it isn't 100% and sometimes needs some manual intervention (by you the DJ) to get it right.

There are a couple of methods of doing this, but this is the one I have found to be both the quickest, and most reliable. This is in Ableton 7, and tho warping has been revised in 8, the principle remains the same.

The first thing you need to do is open Ableton, and drop a track into the session view. Then click on it's clip icon so that the wave form shows at the bottom of the screen. Move along the track a bit and you will see some of the beat markers are slightly off.

So what you need to do is go right back to the beginning of the tract. Basically 1.1.1 as Ableton likes to call it, and you'll see the first beat marker there looking ok.

But if we zoom in (by clicking on the wave form and dragging down). We'll see that all is not as rosy as it first seemed.

Yowsers I mean look at that, it's almost half a beat off. Not to worry, now we get to do what Ableton is famous for... and that is 'warping' or as they like to call it 'Elastic Audio'. What we need to do first is grab the green square with the number one in it. This is the marker for the first beat on the track, and drag it over to where we see the first drum starts. Just click on the green square, and drag it over to where the sound wave starts.

However, it's worth mentioning that, much like before, the sound wave appeared ok, until we zoomed in a little, the same thing can happen here. So what I normally do is drag the marker over, and then zoom in on the first beat to a much higher level to make sure I am right on the money illustrated below.

Ok, so we're looking good. Now is the easy part. It seems crazy now, but the first article I read on warping tracks advised just going through various parts of the tune and lining them up one by one, sporadically through the tune. Two problems though, that method is both a ball ache, and unreliable, as still loads of your beats will be off. Then I learnt about the feature I am gonna show you now. Right click on the wave form near this first beat we have just lined up and you will see and option "Warp from here (Straight)". This is a life saver. Basically what this does is then realign all the beats based on the marker we just adjusted at regular intervals. This is perfect for digitally sequenced music (less so for humanly drummed songs).

Ok, so we're almost there. Now we just need to check along the track at one or two key areas to make sure the beats are spot on (in case there is something weird going on or whatever). The best place to check first is towards the end, as if there is any problem, it will be most evident here.

Well looky there, those crafty beats have drifted a tad again. Why this happens I don't know, but what I do know is that over 90% of all tunes do seem to have this (albeit minor) drift. As these are 16ths the difference might not be that audible, and you never know might give your mix that all important human feel. However we're serious about our trade aren't we, and no drift will do, so it needs to be squashed. We do this just the same as we did that first beat. Just simply double click on of the offending beat markers (just one mind, as that will bring the rest in-line) and gently drag it into place again.

Ok cool, I'm slightly obsessive so I like to give the track one more check further down the waveform (also this is most likely where you will actually be mixing with another tune) to make sure those beats are still in-line.

Et voila, hey presto, sorpresa, it's all done and looking water tight.

That might seem a lot of work, but in reality once you've done it once or twice, you become a dab hand, and the whole process takes about 10 seconds. Once you've done that, you're ready to roll!




Day 329: Making Serato friendly DJ Edits in Ableton.

The two 'Lives', Ableton and Serato have been working together more and more, and this can only be a good thing for you and me.

This might be an indication that Ableton aren't looking to muscle in on Serato's established DVS throne, but could also mean exciting things coming out of their joint collaborations.

Below is a quick video that shows you how you can make DJ friendly edits on the fly with Ableton, that can then be used immediately with Serato.

I'd love to be able to spend a few weeks dedicated to working these two pieces of software into the ground. The possibilities are literally infinite.

Oh, if you're not so familiar with warping tracks in Ableton, even for doing non live mixes (ie studio sessions) then this tip also applies to that. Though there is a better way to do that for studio mixes imo, which I will go through tomorrow.





Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 328: Acapellas 4U - and you.

Despite sounding like a dodgy high street chain, Acapellas4U is actually a very useful resource for both DJs and Producers alike.

As you might expect, the site is dedicated to, Acapellas. As a remixer, this is invaluable. Even when making original tracks, these Acapellas can be a great source of vocal hooks. Sometimes just rooting around and downloading something a little bit obscure can turn up some vocal gold for your white labels.

For DJs, these downloads can be great for making crude remixes on the fly, or just for adding some vocal flavour in the mix. Why not breakdown into a familiar vocal, hold it out solo for a while, then bring in a beat, and build up the tension.

The possibilities are endless, but whatever you decide to do, you'll no doubt find yourself at Acapellas4U as it's no doubt the best resource for them online.




Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 327: It never rains but it pours - More iPhone DJ apps

There has been much promise, and finally after a long wait, it looks like the flood gates are going to open for fully fledged DJ apps on the iPhone.

Not one but two for you right here. (Don't forget Quixpin too which we covered here).

First up is Touch DJ by Amido. This app has a slick looking interface and promises a whole bunch of features. In fact when I was watching the video below I started thinking maybe the Pacemaker was getting a run for it's money. Then I remembered 2 basic yet fundamental flaws that will plague any iPhone DJ app.

Firstly that there is only one audio out. All the apps I have seen so far, Touch DJ included, avoid this problem by splitting the stereo into two separate channels. One side for headphones, the other for master out.

Touch DJ also tries to avoid this by inventing something called 'Visual Mixing'. The basic idea being that you visually match the peaks in the waveforms, thus getting the track in time, before bringing it into the post fader mix.

While this seems clever enough, for me I like to hear my mix before I bring them in. It'd be a constant source of surprises just to do it visually. Plus it doesn't cater for anything like vocals that might be present in the mix etc etc.

The second limitation is that, ridiculously, yet sadly not surprisingly, Apple restrict access to the music library on the phone. I know! I mean that's part of the point. So, what this means then is that any tunes you want to DJ with must be uploaded separately into a dedicated location, separate from the iPod functionality.

These limitations aside, this app looks pretty smart, and has some nice effects, and interface. Touch DJ is available now for $20/£11.99 via iTunes.

Next up is the splendidly named Sonorasaurus this app takes a horizontal view giving a more 'DJ console' view.

Also with the same hardware and manufacturer (ie Apple) restrictions, the tunes have to be uploaded separately via a built in http server. Again much the same in terms of functionality. The interface looks slightly less glossy, but more crammed in, and the app is just half the price at £5.

I'm not sure I'll be packing away my Pacemaker just yet, but if you are an iPhone/Touch owner, and want an application to mess about with then these look great. They are a fraction of the cost of the afore mentioned Pacemaker, but when you can't even do something as simple as play a track in Stereo, or monitor your mix, you start to see the fundamental restrictions of the platform.




Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 326: Simple Ableton productivity tips

Straight to the point today. It's Monday, no need for faffing around. The ever resourceful Tom Cosm shared 10 of his top Ableton productivity tips, and here they are:

  1. To reset a parameter (knob or fader) to it’s default value, select it and hit delete. I am always mucking around with random parameters in a trial and error fashion, but sometimes it just sounds like balls so a quick hit of the delete key lets you reset, forget and move on.
  2. Want to move everything in the piano roll up or down an octave? Command+A (Select all) then Shift+up or down. This is great to take that bassline down an octave, or that synth line up.
  3. Holding down the ALT key while having the pencil tool selected will allow you to draw lines freehand instead of snapping to the grid.
  4. Learn to change the grid size intro triplets, or off completely using key commands. The most important one is Command+4, this turns the grid off and on.
  5. To move just a few notes in the piano roll, select them by holding down Shift and clicking. This is great if just a few bass notes are two low. Shift+click them and then use tip #2 (Shift+up) to move them up an octave.
  6. Hold down Shift while pushing spacebar to play back the audio exactly where you last stopped it.
  7. Use Command+D to duplicate a loop AND it’s automation, then drag the end of the first loop instance across to cover the rest. This allows you to make changes to the loop contents that remain consistent throughout your tune.
  8. If you cut/delete/chop up a loop to the point where it’s messy and has gaps, select the area where you’ve chopped and push Command+J to consolidate it all into a neatly timed loop. This works for Audio and MIDI loops.
  9. Whether it be the clip navigation bar or the master overview, double click to zoom everything out to 100%
  10. Use the virtual keyboard to not only play notes on a synth, but to trigger samples in the drum rack. It’s a great make shift way to bust out a rhythm rather than placing notes on a piano roll.

There you go, done.

get into using them and watch the wasted hours evaporate.




Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 325: The top 100 web-sites for DJs/Producers

Our good friends at Producing Beats have done it again. They have compiled a list of 100 web-sites every DJ/Producer should frequent. Sadly BTDJ isn't on that list, but they do link to us permanently on their blog-roll, so we cant complain!

Check it out here, it really is something special. Nice work guys.