Page 1 of 2
#1
I'm starting to listen to a lot more electronic music lately and I've always had this question that I never found the answer too.

For example, the main act of a concert is a DJ (Take Armin Van Buuren as an example), and he's playing songs off his latest album. What exactly is he doing? All I see is him doing is jumping around and clapping, where is the "actual performance" of the song?

How do you improvise as a DJ? I understand that most of the famous ones are actually record producers and whatnot, so I see how they work at studios. But their live performances is what I don't understand.

I don't want to seem like an ass for dissing DJ, but I really have no idea why thousands of people attend these concerts to listen to someone hit the play button on his turntable.

P.S. I don't listen to Armin Van Buuren, just used him as an example.
#2
Jockying disks.

or something of the sort.

EDIT: Well if the concert is for a DJ, most times it won't be for "performance", it's more for dance, nothing else.
ಠ_ಠ
- Yes, My name is actually Terran -
- Not just a Starcraft fan -


Terran > Zerg and Protoss
Last edited by Tango616 at Jun 14, 2011,
#3
everyone i know who's been to electronic music festivals or concerts take lot of drugs and just vibe with the music.
Quote by Scutchington
I like this guy, he's UG's Greek, and he just told your ass in two paragraphs. And I once spent 5 minutes watching his avatar.


A Brain Malfunction

We'll Never Admit As Defeat
#4
They mix/fade tracks, some of them work the lights, and they usually dance around some too.

People don't go to watch the DJ do his thing, they are there to hear the music and roll their nuts off.
Quote by Butt Rayge
Pretty sure Jesus was decaffeinated.


I'm just a hedonist without happiness
#5
Well most DJ's mix live, which is as complicated as you make it. For instance some Drum n Bass DJs like Andy C (I think him at least) mix on three decks at a time, beat and keymatching on the fly ' which takes some skill and I suppose adds a performance element.

But if you are talking about a live set then from my experience, that usually entails using things like using drum machines and samplers like MPCs, and sometimes triggering loops off programs like Ableton using controllers.

EDIT: Here's Baths doing a live set

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cKArf52l2k
Quote by Malakian88
Oh my bloody god. Imagine if you were a girl and you woke up to find your little brother's friend standing over you with his erect penis on your breasts...


Indeed.
#6
I would assume they'd play their songs and do random 'remixes' of it. Add in 3 random sounds and such. I am not entirely sure myself TS.
The content of this signature is pretty much irrelevant
#7
Theyre artists, they put the record on and let it play, then they stand up there, bob their head and chill out.... please note the sarcasm in the "theyre artists" part...
#8
I don't know much about this, but I'll just throw something out there:

People go to clubs to dance and whatever not caring who the DJ is.

People go to live shows to dance and whatever but with the added reason of having a renowned DJ do his thing.

I'm sure there are more things to it, but this is just off the top of my head.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^


"To know the truth of history is to realize its ultimate myth and its inevitable ambiguity." Everything is made up and the facts don't matter.


MUSIC THEORY LINK
#9
Quote by evan-simpson22
.... please note the sarcasm in the "theyre artists" part...


I miss being 15 and ignorant.

Quote by Pat_s1t
I remember Das_Skittles made me rage hard.

Quote by WCPhils
I can't stand Das_Skittles everything he says makes me mad.

Quote by due 07
Skittles is the shit you cuntles. Slob on his knob.

My Band Youtube Channel Last.fm
#11
A buddy had a DJ set at his place when I went over and he played some beats.

Basically he had tracks recorded and he could turn on different tracks (drums, guitar, bass, etc.) on at different times, and then he had a bnch of faders and little knobs that would completely warp the tone.

He could improvise using that thing, but I don't think too many do this kind of thing live.
Epiphone Les Paul (Modded with 2 passive pickups and an EMG81)
Yamaha RG guitar w/ Floyd Rose
Rogue Acoustic

BlackHeart BH5 Tube Amp


Danelectro Metal. Digitech Bad Monkey, Digitech CF-7, Crybaby Wah, Danelectro EQ.
#12
Best way to look at it is like a Khaoss pad. U switch up some knobs or settings and make crazy noises.
Epiphone Les Paul (Modded with 2 passive pickups and an EMG81)
Yamaha RG guitar w/ Floyd Rose
Rogue Acoustic

BlackHeart BH5 Tube Amp


Danelectro Metal. Digitech Bad Monkey, Digitech CF-7, Crybaby Wah, Danelectro EQ.
#14
They mix tracks. Take an element from one song, bring it into another to create a live mash-up type thing. They also try and make it so that there are no pauses in the beat to keep everyone dancing so they will play one track, then listen to the next in their headphones and decide when to bring it in (known as cueing the next track). They also bring in different samples and effects. It looks easy but it's really not. To DJ well, you have to know a ****ton about music. You have to know all your tracks really well and know what will sound good mixed where. You have to be able to match the beat and pitch on the fly and make sure everything is synced up in your headphones before you play it out live. I find it kind of funny how lots of people think it's easy and don't think that DJs are real artists. I've been playing guitar for around 7 year and although I don't have extensive DJ experience, I've done a bit of live mixing and I'll be the first to say it definitely takes some skill.
Founder of the EHX Users Guild
My Photography

Quote by Kyle-Rehm
Please don't tell me I'm the only one that clicked this thread thinking I would learn how to make my guitar sound like a grizzly bear.
#15
I've only seen videos of Skrillex live, and what he seems to do is take his own tracks, and remix/redo/otherwise mess up the original song in a pleasing way.

Some DJs may do different things. I've only seen Skrillex.

#16
Quote by soul_power
They mix tracks. Take an element from one song, bring it into another to create a live mash-up type thing. They also try and make it so that there are no pauses in the beat to keep everyone dancing so they will play one track, then listen to the next in their headphones and decide when to bring it in (known as cueing the next track). They also bring in different samples and effects. It looks easy but it's really not. To DJ well, you have to know a ****ton about music. You have to know all your tracks really well and know what will sound good mixed where. You have to be able to match the beat and pitch on the fly and make sure everything is synced up in your headphones before you play it out live. I find it kind of funny how lots of people think it's easy and don't think that DJs are real artists. I've been playing guitar for around 7 year and although I don't have extensive DJ experience, I've done a bit of live mixing and I'll be the first to say it definitely takes some skill.


Agreed with this. It's def a lot harder than it seems. It doesn't take quite the raw talent as guitar or drums, but you def have to be on your toes a lot more.
Epiphone Les Paul (Modded with 2 passive pickups and an EMG81)
Yamaha RG guitar w/ Floyd Rose
Rogue Acoustic

BlackHeart BH5 Tube Amp


Danelectro Metal. Digitech Bad Monkey, Digitech CF-7, Crybaby Wah, Danelectro EQ.
#17
A DJ has to structure his mix first, figuring out what vibe he wants his mix to have, and figuring what tunes go well with each other and whether or not they are in the same key or relative key etc. They have to decide when to fade a tune in and when to fade one out, and there are many different ways to do, double drops being one of the more complicated ways. They have to be able to beat match perfectly on the spot, and they need to know about different time signatures, how many beats in different bars etc.

There's a lot to it.
Last edited by Duffman123 at Jun 14, 2011,
#19
I'd think it would be really hard, taking into account you have to memorize your tracks by heart, experiment a lot more, and be able to please an ecstasy/weed/alcohol-addled audience.

What? I'm not generalizing electronic music fans.

I happen to be one.

#20
There's no set thing to what a DJ does, as they each do everything different. Some, like skrillex, press the play button, and do a little bit of mixing here and there, while others like Deadmau5 (trying to use well-known artists,) will do live remixes and such of their songs. And there's, of course, the classic turntable DJs. It all depends on the artist.
#21
A lot of DJs come onto stage with pre-mixed tracks.

So just dancing and making lots of money.
#22
I don't know what clubs you go to, but in London, if you were named on a bill and you came with a pre-mix you'd probably get lynched.
Quote by Malakian88
Oh my bloody god. Imagine if you were a girl and you woke up to find your little brother's friend standing over you with his erect penis on your breasts...


Indeed.
#23
Some don't do anything and just bring mixed tapes and whatnot, just play the music.

BUT

sometimes they do it next to all from scratch, THAT takes some crazy speed and skill, again, maybe not as much as guitar or drums or something, but as said before, it keeps you on your toes.
ಠ_ಠ
- Yes, My name is actually Terran -
- Not just a Starcraft fan -


Terran > Zerg and Protoss
#24
Quote by Tango616
Some don't do anything and just bring mixed tapes and whatnot, just play the music.

BUT

sometimes they do it next to all from scratch, THAT takes some crazy speed and skill, again, maybe not as much as guitar or drums or something, but as said before, it keeps you on your toes.


I beg to differ, it takes a lot of skill to improvise an electronic song from scratch, and I don't get the attitude that guitar or drums are inherently more difficult simply because they're physical instruments.
#26
It depends. A "disc k=jockey" will usually just push play.

A legitimate turntablist will start from scratch. He will sample, mix, add effects, and usually keep a beat for the whole set. Duffman went into more detail.

Different people do different tings. Some very famous (and overated lol) examples: Daft Punk do al the same things: sample, perform live remixes, etc., and I beleive they use live synthesizers as well. Deadmau5 just samples from his laptops and adds effedcts, and he may use a few other instruments (he has some MIDI intrumetns with his laptop, I don't know if he uses them live).

I can't help you with the really interesting, more obscure artists.
#27
One of my best mates is a semi-professional DJ. I've seen him live a few times, as well as at his place, and it looks a lot more complex than people make it out to be. I certainly couldn't make his mixes sound as refined and clean as he could. There is a definite skill involved.
#28
There's a difference between a DJ and live electronic music. DJs play other people's songs (and maybe their own), which involves a lot more skill than you might think.

Mad DJ Skillz

Live Electronic Music
Quote by ChemicalFire
The point of underground bands is their not popular or famous most of the time. Thus there is a good chance they suck.
Last edited by eazy-c at Jun 15, 2011,
#29
Well when I DJ with Ableton Live (which even some "real" DJs sometimes call cheating ) I have to pre-warp each track's beat transients to the master tempo clock, so that I can trigger them in time with other tracks. After I've warped every track I want to play, it's a matter of triggering them in time with each other and lining up the transitions between songs, timing them so the drops line up, mixing them into each other so basslines don't clash etc. There's a lot of EQ and leveling work done on the fly, as well as filter, beatrepeat, gating and slicing effects going on as well that I do to add interest. As for choosing which songs will go together well, it's a matter of finding tracks that are close in tempo and key, and always keeping my circle of 5ths in mind so I know one song won't clash with another (IE I'll play a song in F over a song in A#, then later mix in a song that's in C, etc.)

All that's done on the fly, with one controller, juggling between tracks trying to keep track of absolutely everything. Sometimes I decide what tracks I'll play in advance, and sometimes I don't. Keep in mind that this is completely disregarding the whole beatmatching aspect, since this is done beforehand in Ableton; for real DJs, they have to do everything I do, IN ADDITION to physically manipulating the turntables so that the records play exactly in time. I have a fucking enormous amount of respect for a good DJ that can transition between tracks seamlessly and in key, especially since with vinyl any slight variation in the BPM for beatmatching will result in the pitch going up or down. There's a lot of quick decision-making and precision skill involved in it.

Then you've got guys like Bassnecter and Richie Hawtin who add a VJ/visual aspect to it, just as seamlessly matching their video and lights to the tempo as the records themselves. Here's Richie playing out with 3 turntables AND a laptop running his VJ stuff, and most likely Ableton as well.

It's ridiculously fun, and watching the audience dance the fuck out of the tracks you produce and play is the best feeling ever, more so than performing "real" instruments live, to be honest. With a DJ set, the show is just as much about the audience as it is the guy on the stage. And all this is coming from a guy who's played jazz piano for 13 years - trust me, DJing takes just as much skill.

EDIT: That being said, a DJ that doesn't actually mix the songs together and is just playing one after another is basically the equivalent to the guy that knows 4 chords on an acoustic and plays an "unplugged" set while singing badly.

For a good example, listen to Excision's famous Shambhala sets. He transitions seamlessly from track to track, and even keeps the general sound of each relatively consistent through EQ and post-mastering that I'm pretty sure he does live. What's really mindblowing about it is when you realize half the tracks are from completely different artists, a lot of them from Europe while he's from British Columbia, and the tracks are mixed on totally different systems by completely different people - when you listen to them standalone they have different tonal characteristics in the drums and bass etc, yet he manages to EQ them to the point where they sound crisp and mastered uniformly.
Last edited by xaviergray at Jun 15, 2011,
#32
Quote by evan-simpson22
Theyre artists, they put the record on and let it play, then they stand up there, bob their head and chill out.... please note the sarcasm in the "theyre artists" part...


Wow dude...you understand....hurr durr please note the sarcasm in the "you understand" part
#33
It's kinda like going to a party full where everyone is rolling and listening to music. Except it's in a bigger setting. It's also a chance for a guy who composes his own music to show everyone what's up with it and why they should care.

It's not necessarily a "concert" or show or whatever, it's an entirely different feeling.
Write your own lyrics or poetry? Post them HERE for a crit.
Follow me on Twitter
#35
They're keeping idiots off of the streets for a couple hours.
Quote by L2112Lif
I put a ton of my capital into SW Airlines... The next day, THE NEXT DAY these nutters fly into the WTC. What the hell? Apparently no one wanted to fly anymore, and I was like "What gives? God damnit Osama, let me win a fuggin' game!"
#37
Depends. Good ones do a lot, bad ones don't. A good DJ or electronic artist will mix stuff live, throw in samples, eq stuff, so all sorts of things. A bad one will hit play, dance and occasionally trigger some random sounds.

It all comes down to how good they are and how much they're gonna work. For instance, I'll bed any band you listen too could go up on stage and stand there without moving and blow through a set of simple music and use backing tracks. But the ones that are renowned for their live shows are ones like Muse or Queen that go and play their own music, which is normally not easy, pull it off well and deliver a high energy show.


They wear cool headgear.


Don't forget

Last edited by Warrior47 at Jun 15, 2011,
#38
i made this same thread a while ago. honestly, it depends on the dj. they dont scratch anymore so throw that out. they are basically controlling when the pre madae loops are going on and they can tweek it by hand a bit
#40
It really varies DJ to DJ. Plenty still play vinyl (and it definitely isn't easy getting a good transition between songs when you're mixing vinyl) but most mix from CDs or mp3s using virtualDJ or whatever which is definitely a lot easier . Some break songs down into loops and put those together in Ableton or something which takes quite a lot of effort and you end up with something very different to one song played then another. And then there's the DJs that mix it all in the studio and just play a CD in a club and pretend to mix it. There's all too many of them.
Page 1 of 2