How do I combine songs into one

Freestyle Mixing: Nine Easy Mixing Techniques for Genre Popping

In this workshop we show how you can make your sets more interesting through freestyle mixing and genre popping and which techniques can be used to overcome musical boundaries.

Many DJs focus on a particular musical genre when choosing songs for their DJ sets because they personally prefer it or believe that their audience expects it from them. But more and more often you meet DJs who give up this stringent procedure and can make the evening much more exciting with a colorful mix of different musical pots. Why not mix techno and punk songs together or bring hip-hop and reggea together? Some preliminary work is necessary for this procedure to be successful.

Prepare song collection

The advantage of a digital song collection is that you can organize your tracks very easily and in a variety of ways. It is important for freestyle mixing that you proceed very carefully here so that everything runs smoothly in the later mixing practice. Which software you use to carry out this organization is up to you. You can either use your DJ software or universally usable programs such as iTunes.

Tag songs

The easiest way to store the song information is in the ID3 tags. Here you should first choose the genre and avoid subdivisions that are too small, as this makes the selection more difficult for freestyle mixing. Choose the genres so that you can accommodate many songs in them. In the second step, it is important to determine the tempos of the songs. Your DJ software usually does this by itself. However, corrections are sometimes necessary anyway. Another important aspect of sorting is the key. This is also recognized independently by most DJ programs and transferred to a system that simplifies the combination of the "matching" songs, as it is based on numbers and letters. In Traktor, for example, the musical notation can be switched to Open Key.

Alternatively, you can also use specialized software such as Mixed In Key or KeyFinder and import the results saved in the ID3 tags into any DJ software. The frequently used Camelot system allows you to act accurately without any knowledge of music theory. In the following work step, you yourself are challenged and should determine the energy content of the songs - so separate slower and quieter songs for the beginning of a set from peak time tracks. To record this, you can use the star rating system of your software. This makes it possible to find the right songs very quickly.

If you have already had experience with freestyle mixing, you should remember good song combinations and write a corresponding note in the comment field - Song X goes well with Song Y. Finally, you can further classify your songs according to their content - according to instrumental pieces, Songs with vocals etc.

Create playlists

Although you as digital DJs can easily carry your entire song inventory with you, it makes sense to specially prepare a freestyle set and create a specific playlist. To do this, leaf through your song inventory and put together a virtual crate, as was common "in the past" with vinyls. Look for songs with a corresponding energy content, songs that can be easily combined with others and a few hits.

Use suggestion systems

To simplify the creation of song combinations, you can fall back on suggestion systems that are often offered in online shops such as Beatport, Junodownload, Traxsource, etc.

Here you will find notes such as "Customers who bought this product have viewed the following". It can also be helpful, for example, to use Genius in iTunes or the suggestions in djay or the Traktor DJ app.

Mixing techniques

In the following I would like to introduce you to a few selected mixing techniques with which you can combine songs across genres. This overview is of course not exhaustive and only serves as a suggestion:

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As banal as it may sound, it is important that you always keep an eye on the beats, measures and musical phrases when mixing songs, so that a coherent listening experience results for your audience. With the common 4/4 time pattern, a bar consists of 4 beats. The bars serve as a building block for the musical phrases. In the field of dance music one can often find 4-bar, 8-bar or 16-bar phrases. Starting a new song should always begin at the start of a phrase, the so-called downbeat.

Without percussions

If you want to mix songs with each other whose speeds are far apart, then you can use the following method and do without classic beat matching. At the end of a genre, find a track at the end of which no more beats can be heard and follow its musical phrase. Then start the second track on a downbeat where the beats of the current track end.

Songs with a change of tempo

For this process you need songs whose tempo changes. Ideally, the tempo should change to match the speed of the track being mixed. Most software programs have difficulty dealing with these songs, as they often do not have a variable beat grid that takes the tempo change into account. For this reason, manual work is required here when mixing. It is helpful to provide these songs with an ID3 tag comment in which the final speed or the entire course are noted.

Beat making

If you want to use the classic adjustment of song speeds, then the tempos is a good option in the Changing songs and meeting in the "middle". For one track at 130 BPM and another track at 110 BPM, both would be mixed at a speed of 120 BPM. The tempo adjustment for the current song should be done quickly and if possible in a part in which few tonal elements can be heard. This process is most inconspicuous when the key is activated. When you've finished mixing, you should increase the speed of the second track back to its original speed as quickly as possible.

Turntable tricks

For the freestyle mixing tricks described below, you should familiarize yourself with your controller or CD player (if you play with timecode media). A transition between two songs can be initiated by a backspin (turn the turntable back). It is important that you activate the vinyl or scratch mode for your controller (or CD player) and start the track to be mixed on the downbeat of the track that is thrown back. Some DJ programs offer this function as an effect. As an alternative to backspin, you can use a switch-off simulation. Some CD players and controllers have a special rotary control with which you can adjust the speed of this process. Towards the end of the stopping process, you start the new track again on the downbeat.

Delay cloud

Almost every DJ software is equipped with a delay effect. You can use this to drown a track in a delay cloud and start the new track in it. In Traktor you select the post-fader mode for an effects bus and activate the effects routing in the mixer area for the corresponding deck. By slowly turning the Dry / Wet and Feedback control to the right, the delay slowly rocks up. If you then pull down the channel fader, only the fading effect cloud can be heard. Some delays also offer a tempo control with which you can adjust the speed of the delay effect to the track to be mixed.

Mix two versions

Many songs are offered in different remixes. You can take advantage of this fact and combine two of them. Often both mixes can be beatmatched quite easily and you can create a "new" version out of them. This mix trick also works well if you have an a cappella of a song. A beat can be easily placed under this.

Double the pace

With this mixing technique, I have to choose a song that has a tempo that is half or twice that of the previous song. So if you're playing a drum 'n' bass track at 174 BPM, you can combine that with an R&B track that is 87 BPM. Since the beats are stretched on top of each other with this tempo difference, you can mix both songs together quite easily. There is a trick to be able to mix the songs using the sync function. To do this, you simply have to double the tempo value of the slower song. Many programs offer a corresponding button for editing the beat grid. This modification should of course only be made temporarily.

Tranquility as a transition

You should admittedly use the final freestyle mixing trick very sparingly, or at most once in the evening. To make this type of transition, it's best to choose a song with a prominent ending. You play this song until the bitter end and then let the music fall completely silent. This process will get you the maximum attention of your audience. Then start a track that offers an interesting intro.