Update NLP: Teaching myself to DJ

As I’ve been practicing DJing, watching tutorials on Youtube and reading posts on forums for my Network Learning Project (or NLP), I have definitely come across some hiccups along the way.

To begin with, I updated my computer to Mac OS Sierra, which I found out does not currently support the Serato program that I initially installed on my computer when it was running the previous operating system.  I ended up doing some research and found out that a program that I also had installed previously called DJay Pro by Algoriddim now natively supports my Pioneer DDJ-SB mixer.

Finding specific video tutorials that teach you how to use DJay Pro with the Pioneer system are few to come by.  I found a few tutorials such as the following to show how to scratch:

So I watched some videos specifically talking about the program and then watched other tutorials on using the the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 separately with the Serato program. (There are a lot of similarities between programs, to be really honest DJay Pro is a very basic DJing program and I think easier to understand).

This is what I started off my DJay Pro panel when I was practicing on Thursday – I set it up to make it look like I was playing vinyl –


but after watching some tutorials they recommended that I have it setup like the following because it’s easier to visualize the song to match beats:





I also checked out the DJay Pro Online Community – http://community.algoriddim.com/algoriddim

However, most of the information there had people discussing more trouble shooting questions, not necessarily learning information.  Honestly, I think the best forum for learning was the DJ Tech Tools forum. There were quite a few posts about beginning and then noticed that they even post links to Beginning DJ Tutorials such as this one about Beat Jumping.

I think there are quite a few challenging things to DJing – first off, knowing your music is key.  I spent some time listening to music that I thought would mix together well (or that I wanted to mix together). The other challenging part is matching Beats Per Minute (BPM) for when you transition between songs.  What’s nice about the using computers to mix music, is that most programs now automatically find the BPM for you, rather than you having to count it out in your head when you are mixing with vinyl for example.

The following is a video that I did of two songs that I enjoy the beats too that I think mix well together – “So Amazing” – Rihanna remix & “Phone” by Lizzo.  They both have a beat that are easy to hear and follow along with.  I will have to get a tripod to hold up my camera for my next video – because it was difficult to hold my phone to take video footage while also mixing the music.

You can hear me toward 1:24 – where I fade between the two songs and then play with the special effects for a few moments.  It got a little sloppy around 3:05 where I was trying to scratch.  I definitely want to work on being able to scratch between two songs – but I would need to have both hands readily available.

My goal for the next video is to work more on looping and fading between songs (matching their BPMs) and listening through headphones as to when to bring in the next song.

This has been an exciting journey but also nerve wrecking. Learning to DJ is a challenge – because there are so many facets to understanding – hardware, software and general music knowledge. Although this is difficult and I don’t expect to become a professional by the 5th week of class, I do know that I’ve become slightly better than I was before working on this project and I think it’s  pretty awesome that for my graduate program I can have fun while learning and teach myself something that I’ve always wanted to be able to learn.


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