Exploring Practitioners 1: DJs – Clare Chang

DJ-ing is a practice that has grew in recent years alongside the advancement of technology. I love how music connects people through our auditory while the whole process of DJ-ing extends to our visual and even somatosensation (from the vibration of beats etc). Therefore, my first practitioner of choice is a DJ. I reached out to an acquaintance who is a self-taught DJ. 

Process Documentation

For a DJ, a majority of prep work is done before performing live. This involves creating a playlist that is carefully curated according to the upcoming event and also to showcase teh DJ’s personal style. To put simply, the DJ has to take into consideration the BPM (beats per minute) of every song. From there, they adjust and sequence songs accordingly. As the DJ suggested, transitioning from one song to another smoothly, is quintessential. This can only be done with a prior knowledge of the beats of the song and if they do not match, then it has to be adjusted with the many tools and functions of a DJ set. 

Steps:

  1. Preps through background work of set/playlist
  2. Uploads playlist into a third party application on their laptop – a Record Box software 
  3. Set up the tracks and plug into an audio system
  4. Live manipulation (with different effects) begins! 
Record Box Software

Tools Used

The main tools that a DJ utilises are:

  1. CDJ with vinyls 
  2. DJ Mixer 
  3. Headphones 
  4. Laptop
  5. Audio Cables and Speakers
  6. Microphone (optional) 
  7. Table (to place entire turntable setup on) 
Overview of Whole Setup
Table, Cables, Audio Speakers, Plugs, Microphone 
Electronic Vinyl
DJ Mixer (controls effects/volume etc)

Worksite Documentation 

A DJ’s worksite as I observed, is portable. However, the main important thing that has to be present are electric sockets/plugs.  The DJ set (namely the CDJ and mixer) can be folded and portable as a luggage. This aids in the mobility of equipment and the protection of  these highly expensive tools (one entire set could cost around $10,000!). 

Pain Points

As explained by the DJ, the practice is one that has an extremely steep learning curve. The mastery of using the equipment and ease of it only comes with practice and experience. Also, we went through some of the rookie mistakes that are commonly made when one starts out:

  • Not mixing properly (meaning that it is off beat or off BPM)
  • Failure to sync BPMs during transition from one song to the next 
    • Can be rectified through use of the vinyl (if error is not drastic)
  • Forgetting to shut audio going out to the house while prepping for the next song (meaning, the sound from the headphones intended only for the DJ is played to everyone else)
  • Usage of wrong part of the song to transit
Live Demo 🙂

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