Basic Turntable Skills
An introduction to beat matching
Beatmatching is the foundation of house mixing and required to some degree
with the majority of dance music styles. Keeping the beat going at a similar
tempo or rate from tune to tune.
This is a skill that anyone can learn; it just needs practice, practice
and more practice. This practice reconfigures your brain into a different
way of hearing 2 tunes. Youíll listen to DJs in a different way, thinking
faster faster or slower slower when mixes are going astray. Itíll make you
on edge in the presence of a DJ whose mixing isnít spot on, so donít say
you havenít been warned!!
The easiest way to start is by getting hold of two copies of the same record.
Different DJs listen to different parts of a track when beatmatching - the
kick drum, the hi-hats, the snare. As the kick drum usually sounds on every
beat Iíll explain things using this.
Pick a record that is four-to-the-floor with no fancy 2-step rhythms. Try
and get one that is DJ friendly - thereís plenty out there - one that has
the solid thump of the kick for a while at the beginning. Pick one your
gran wouldnít like, really repetitive sample/electronic based, rather than
a song based tune featuring live instruments.
Now with your two records on your decks set the pitch controls the same
at 0 (center). Start the records on both decks but keep the crossfader to
the left so you can only hear the left record.
Bring the crossfader into the middle so you can hear both tunes, if youíre
fluky itíll sound alright, for anyone whoís not god like itíll sound a bit
Try to picture whatís happening in your head now, either tune 1 is ahead
of tune 2 or vice versa, itís not important at this stage.
What youíre trying to do now is get the beats aligned with each other, like
As record 1 was the first on, record 2 is adjusted so it matches it. In
this case it was slowed down briefly. Do not touch the pitch control!
As the pitch of both the records is the same this is not necessary - your
hearing will probably fool you into thinking otherwise.
Deciding whether to briefly speed up or slow down the record is a skill
learnt with practice.
- ∑ To briefly slow down the record try lightly rubbing your fingers
along the edge of the platter or squeezing the centre spindle for a
- ∑ To briefly speed up the record try twisting the centre spindle clockwise.
Ok, stop the records and try doing the whole thing again keeping the pitch
control of the decks at 0. This time play record 1 out through the main
system and listen to record 2 through your headphones at a similar volume.
Briefly speed up or slow down (or do nothing if youíre lucky) record 2.
When aligned bring the crossfader into the middle and listen to your good
Move the crossfader to the right, stop record 1 and restart it. Now do the
whole thing again, previewing record 1 in the headphones this time. Any
adjustments should be made to record 1 this time. Repeat these steps until
you start to get the knack for it.
Musicians will be familiar with the four beats in a bar. In general to first
beat of a record is the first beat in a bar. Listen to a record, starting
on the Ďstrongestí beat out of every four (every bar) count 1, 2, 3, 4,
1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. What you want to do is align the 1s
of record 1 with the 1s of record 2, this will sound much better. With two
copies of the same record the 1s should be easy to find
The technique is the same as before, but try to align the 1s of the
records rather than random beats:
To aid getting this alignment DJs often hold the record on the deck in the
headphones with their hand, letting the platter carry on moving underneath.
They then Ďrubí the first beat of it back and forth and release it when
a 1 occurs, therefore only minimal adjustment may be required:
Even Better Beatmatching
Now you have the basic skills, thereís only one more technique to learn.
Beatmatching two records of a different pitch i.e. two records that go at
different speeds. Chances are two records you want to mix together go at
a different speed. First try record 2 being slower than record 1:
The difficult part is determining that record 2 is slower in the first place.
There you have it! Once youíve practiced and practiced and practiced these
techniques you can concentrate on the art of selecting tunes.
- To determine if a record is faster or slower try using the rub technique
then briefly speed up or slow down the record accordingly.
- If you find yourself speeding up the record all the time to keep realigning
the beats then you may move the pitch control, towards you to
speed the whole record up.
- If you find yourself slowing down the record all the time to keep
realigning the beats then move the pitch control away from you to slow
the whole record down.
- Repeat from step 1 with the rub technique, as you get closer to both
records being the same speed the pitch control will need moving smaller
and smaller distances.
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