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The ability to control music in order to express oneself is an amazing skill and somewhat of an art form.Just as with playing a musical instrument, DJs also specialise in specific areas of the subject.
A Disc Jockey more commonly abbreviated as DJ is a person who plays recorded music for an audience. Originally, the word Disc in Disc Jockey referred to vinyl records. The modern role of DJs evolved from radio personalities who introduced and played individual selections of recorded music on radio stations. Now a days DJ is used as an all encompassing to also describe a person who mixes music from other recording media such as CDs, digital audio files or a computer.
**Mix : DJ mix or a mixset is the sequence of musical tracks combined together to appear as one continuous track.
A brief History of DJing
To understand the art form, we need to have a clear picture regarding the past that connects the present.
1909 was the year in which the first ever DJ spun a record.Ray Newbie from California is officially recognised as the first DJ to hit the air waves.
It wasn’t until 25 years that the American radio commentator Walter Winchell, coined the term Disc Jockey to describe a radio announcer called Martin Block. It was Martin Block,who while awaiting details during reporting of a news story, played records to give an impression that he was broadcasting from a ballroom.
Fast forward to 1943, the world’s first dance party was launched by DJ Jimmy Savile where he played the latest jazz classics.
With the popularity of the art form growing,1950s saw a new form of public entertainment, known as Sound Systems, were developed in the ghettos of Kingston (Jamaica). Basically, Sound System is a term used for a group of disc jockeys, sound engineers and MCs who play reggae and ska music.
With the emergence of night clubs , bars and discotheques DJs were pushed out of the shadows and became a mainstream phenomenon.
Turntable is a circular rotating platform of a record player where the record rests during play. The turntable has been used as a musical instrument since the 1940s.However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the term ‘turntablism’ was coined. Turntablism is the art of manipulating sound & creating new music, sound effects and beats by using turntables and cross fader equipped DJ mixer.
Theodore Livingston better known by the moniker Grand Wizard Theodore is widely credited as the inventor of the scratching technique. He discovered the technique by accident as he stopped the record with his hand to hear what his mother was shouting about.
Scratching is the sound made by moving the record back and forth in order to create syncopated rhythms is a very important aspect of turntablism, which has always been synonymous with hip hop.It has become an art unto itself.
The mixer forms the core part of an analogue DJ setup. This is the piece of gear where smooth transition between tracks happen, effects get added, frequencies are manipulated. This is where you also plug your headphones in order to preview the track which is coming next. They also provide the audio interface to actually process the music you are portraying to your audience.
Xone:92 by Allen & Heath
DJM 900 NSX2 by Pioneer
If you are someone into playing around with vinyl records, then this is a piece of equipment which is a must have. It forms as essential part of a DJ gear if you want to scratch, physically cue tracks. But a large part of the lot they tend to be on the higher side of the price bracket.
Our Recommendations :
PLX 500 by Pioneer
NTX 1000 by Numark
PT01 by Numark
Also know as DJ decks, they took the world by storm with the rise of Compact Disc. However with the music shifting from a physical medium to virtual, these players adapted & can now play music files stored on USB flash drives and SD card. For a typical DJ setup a minimum of 2 DJ Players are used.They have jog wheels and pitch faders which facilitate the manipulation of digital music file similar to a vinyl record on a turn table.
CDJ 900NXS by Pioneer
DJ SC5000 by Denon
With the advent of new technology, the art of DJing has become more accessible and available to a mass audience without having to break the bank on investments in high end mixers and effects units.
Enter the realm of a new concept in the beginner DJ world : DJ controllers. Now picture all the above mentioned components combined into one that allows the user to control further features, customisation and setting using computer software. DJ controllers exactly do this. In other words a MIDI controller of the DJing world. Some are great for tweaking track settings while others can let you scratch on them using a jog wheel.
Mixtrack Pro 3 by Numark
DDJ 400 by Pioneer
Traktor Kontrol S2 MK3 by Native Instruments
This is the backbone of a digital and hybrid setup. The software allows you to mix, cut, edit, add FX, change tempo, mashup and scratch using MP3’s once you hook up your controller to the computer.
There are only a handful of DJ software to look out for.
Traktor Pro 2
Headphones are an essential piece of equipment a DJ must own. A good pair of headphones enables a DJ to hear all elements in a composition and play around with things like frequency, pitch, and range to deliver a pleasant, well balanced mix. Coming across a good pair of headphones is difficult as the market is flooded with mediocre devices, which not only serve up poor sound quality but also rarely last beyond a month of active use.
Comfort, closed back design, durability and sound quality are some of the most important things to consider when picking out the best pair of DJ headphones for your budget.
ATH M50X by Audio Technica
HD 25 by Senheiser
TMA 2 by AIAIAI
Using studio speakers is a great way for beginner DJs to hear their mixes with clarity. Most venues might already have a great sound system; however, we still recommend you buy your own since you will need during the learning period of refining your skills. As a beginner a decent pair of affordable passive speakers will do.
DJ DM 40 by Pioneer
LP 6 by Kali Audio
Rokit 5 G4 by KRK
Partymix by Numark
DDJ 200 by Pioneer
Mixtrack Pro 3 by Numark DJ Speakers
DM 40 by Pioneer Eris 3.5 PreSonus LP 6 by Kali Audio
HD 206 by Senheiser
HDJ Cue 1 by Pioneer
ATH M20X by Audio Technica
A computer with a DJ software will form the core of your beginner setup.