A disc jockey, more commonly abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays existing recorded music for a live audience. Most common types of DJs include radio DJ, club DJ who performs at a nightclub or music festival and turntablist who uses record players, usually turntables, to manipulate sounds on phonograph records. Originally, the disc in disc jockey referred to gramophone records, but now DJ is used as an all-encompassing term to describe someone who mixes recorded music from any source, including cassettes, CDs or digital audio files on a CDJ or laptop. The title 'DJ' is commonly used by DJs in front of their real names or adopted pseudonyms or stage names. In recent years it has become common for DJs to be featured as the credited artist on tracks they produced despite having a guest vocalist that performs the entire song: like for example Uptown Funk.
Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.
A radio personality or radio presenter is a person who has an on-air position in radio broadcasting. A radio personality who hosts a radio show is also known as a radio host, and in India and Pakistan as a radio jockey. Radio personalities who introduce and play individual selections of recorded music are known as disc jockeys or "DJs" for short. Broadcast radio personalities may include talk radio hosts, AM/FM radio show hosts, and satellite radio program hosts.
A nightclub, music club or club, is an entertainment venue and bar that usually operates late into the night. A nightclub is generally distinguished from regular bars, pubs or taverns by the inclusion of a stage for live music, one or more dance floor areas and a DJ booth, where a DJ plays recorded music. The upmarket nature of nightclubs can be seen in the inclusion of VIP areas in some nightclubs, for celebrities and their guests. Nightclubs are much more likely than pubs or sports bars to use bouncers to screen prospective clubgoers for entry. Some nightclub bouncers do not admit people with informal clothing or gang apparel as part of a dress code. The busiest nights for a nightclub are Friday and Saturday night. Most clubs or club nights cater to certain music genres, such as house music or hip hop. Many clubs have recurring club nights on different days of the week. Most club nights focus on a particular genre or sound for branding effects.
DJs use audio equipment that can play at least two sources of recorded music simultaneously and mix them together to create seamless transitions between recordings and develop unique mixes of songs. Often, this involves aligning the beats of the music sources so their rhythms do not clash when played together or to enable a smooth transition from one song to another. DJs often use specialized DJ mixers, small audio mixers with crossfader and cue functions to blend or transition from one song to another. Mixers are also used to pre-listen to sources of recorded music in headphones and adjust upcoming tracks to mix with currently playing music. DJ software can be used with a DJ controller device to mix audio files on a computer instead of a console mixer. DJs may also use a microphone to speak to the audience; effects units such as reverb to create sound effects and electronic musical instruments such as drum machines and synthesizers.
Audio mixing is the process by which multiple sounds are combined into one or more channels. In the process, a source's volume level, frequency content, dynamics, and panoramic position are manipulated or enhanced. This practical, aesthetic, or otherwise creative treatment is done in order to produce a finished version that is appealing to listeners.
Beatmatching or pitch cue is a disc jockey technique of pitch shifting or timestretching an upcoming track to match its tempo to that of the currently playing track, and to adjust them such that the beats are synchronised — e.g. the kicks and snares in two house records hit at the same time when both records are played simultaneously. Beatmatching is a component of beatmixing which employs beatmatching combined with equalization, attention to phrasing and track selection in an attempt to make a single mix that flows together and has a good structure.
A DJ mixer is a type of audio mixing console used by Disc jockeys (DJs) to control and manipulate multiple audio signals. Some DJs use the mixer to make seamless transitions from one song to another when they are playing records at a dance club. Hip hop DJs and turntablists use the DJ mixer to play record players like a musical instrument and create new sounds. DJs in the disco, house music, electronic dance music and other dance-oriented genres use the mixer to make smooth transitions between different sound recordings as they are playing. The sources are typically record turntables, compact cassettes, CDJs, or DJ software on a laptop. DJ mixers allow the DJ to use headphones to preview the next song before playing it to the audience. Most low- to mid-priced DJ mixers can only accommodate two turntables or CD players, but some mixers can accommodate up to four turntables or CD players. DJs and turntablists in hip hop music and nu metal use DJ mixers to create beats, loops and "scratching" sound effects.
Originally, the "disc" in "disc jockey" referred to gramophone records, but now "DJ" is used as an all-encompassing term to describe someone who mixes recorded music from any source, including vinyl records, cassettes, CDs, or digital audio files stored on USB stick or laptop. DJs typically perform for a live audience in a nightclub or dance club or a TV, radio broadcast audience, or in the 2010s, an online radio audience. DJs also create mixes, remixes and tracks that are recorded for later sale and distribution. In hip hop music, DJs may create beats, using percussion breaks, basslines and other musical content sampled from pre-existing records. In hip hop, rappers and MCs use these beats to rap over.
A USB flash drive is a data storage device that includes flash memory with an integrated USB interface. It is typically removable, rewritable and much smaller than an optical disc. Most weigh less than 1 oz. Since first appearing on the market in late 2000, as with virtually all other computer memory devices, storage capacities have risen while prices have dropped. As of March 2016, flash drives with anywhere from 8 to 256 GB were frequently sold, while 512 GB and 1 TB units were less frequent. As of 2018, 2TB flash drives were the largest available in terms of storage capacity. Some allow up to 100,000 write/erase cycles, depending on the exact type of memory chip used, and are thought to last between 10 and 100 years under normal circumstances.
A laptop computer is a small, portable personal computer (PC) with a "clamshell" form factor, typically having a thin LCD or LED computer screen mounted on the inside of the upper lid of the clamshell and an alphanumeric keyboard on the inside of the lower lid. The clamshell is opened up to use the computer. Laptops are folded shut for transportation, and thus are suitable for mobile use. Its name comes from lap, as it was deemed to be placed on a person's lap when being used. Although originally there was a distinction between laptops and notebooks, as of 2014, there is often no longer any difference. Laptops are commonly used in a variety of settings, such as at work, in education, for playing games, Internet surfing, for personal multimedia, and general home computer use.
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop or rap music, is a music genre developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans and Latino Americans in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s. It consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti writing. Other elements include sampling beats or bass lines from records, and rhythmic beatboxing. While often used to refer solely to rapping, "hip hop" more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture. The term hip hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term rap music, though rapping is not a required component of hip hop music; the genre may also incorporate other elements of hip hop culture, including DJing, turntablism, scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.
DJs use equipment that can play at least two sources of recorded music simultaneously and mix them together. This allows the DJ to create seamless transitions between recordings and develop unique mixes of songs. Often, this involves aligning the beats of the music sources so their rhythms do not clash when they are played together, either so two records can be played at the same time, or to enable the DJ to make a smooth transition from one song to another. An important tool for DJs is the specialized DJ mixer, a small audio mixer with a crossfader and cue functions. The crossfader enables the DJ to blend or transition from one song to another. The cue knobs or switches allow the DJ to listen to a source of recorded music in headphones before playing it for the live club or broadcast audience. Previewing the music in headphones helps the DJ pick the next track they want to play, cue up the track to the desired starting location, and align the two tracks' beats in traditional situations where auto sync technology is not being used. This process ensures that the selected song will mix well with the currently playing music. DJs may also use a microphone to speak to the audience; effects units such as reverb to create sound effects; and electronic musical instruments such as drum machines and synthesizers.
To cue audio is to determine the desired initial playback point in a piece of recorded music. It is technique used often used radio broadcasting and DJing. DJs typically find the desired start place on a record, tape, CD, or other medium by listening to the recording with headphones and manipulating the turntable or other playback controls. DJs use headphones to cue up the start point; this means that the audience cannot hear the playback until the DJ wants them to. Once the recording is cued up to the desired start point, the DJ can then commence the playback of the recording at the desired moment. The goal of cueing is to avoid "dead air", that is, silence.
Headphones traditionally refer to a pair of small loudspeaker drivers worn on or around the head over a user's ears. They are electroacoustic transducers, which convert an electrical signal to a corresponding sound. Headphones let a single user listen to an audio source privately, in contrast to a loudspeaker, which emits sound into the open air for anyone nearby to hear. Headphones are also known as earspeakers, earphones or, colloquially, cans. Circumaural and supra-aural headphones use a band over the top of the head to hold the speakers in place. Another type, known as earbuds or earpieces consist of individual units that plug into the user's ear canal. A third type are bone conduction headphones, which typically wrap around the back of the head and rest in front of the ear canal, leaving the ear canal open.
A microphone, colloquially nicknamed mic or mike, is a transducer that converts sound into an electrical signal. Microphones are used in many applications such as telephones, hearing aids, public address systems for concert halls and public events, motion picture production, live and recorded audio engineering, sound recording, two-way radios, megaphones, radio and television broadcasting, and in computers for recording voice, speech recognition, VoIP, and for non-acoustic purposes such as ultrasonic sensors or knock sensors.
The title "DJ" is also commonly used by DJs in front of their real names or adopted pseudonyms or stage names as a title to denote their profession (e.g., DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Qbert, DJ Shadow and DJ Yoda). Some DJs focus on creating a good mix of songs for the club dancers or radio audience. Other DJs use turntablism techniques such as scratching, in which the DJ or turntablist manipulates the record player turntable to create new rhythms and sounds. DJs need to have a mixture of artistic and technical skills for their profession, because they have to understand both the creative aspects of making new musical beats and tracks, and the technical aspects of using mixing consoles, professional audio equipment, and, in the 2010s, digital audio workstations and other computerized music gear. In many types of DJing, including club DJing and radio/TV DJing, a DJ also has to have charisma and develop a good rapport with the audience. Professional DJs often specialize in a specific genre of music, such as house music or hip hop music. DJs typically have an extensive knowledge about the music they specialize in. Many DJs are avid music collectors of vintage, rare or obscure tracks and records.
A pseudonym or alias is a name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which can differ from their first or true name (orthonym).
A stage name is a pseudonym used by performers and entertainers, such as actors, comedians, singers and musicians. Sometimes performers will also use a stage age or stage birthdate. Such titles are adopted for a wide variety of reasons and may be similar or nearly identical to an individual's birth name. In some situations, a performer will eventually adopt their title as a legal name, although this is often not the case. Personal names or nicknames that make up the professional name should not necessarily be considered as a "fake name" like Lady Gaga : for example: Miley Cyrus: born Destiny Hope Cyrus, uses her personal nickname "Miley" and her maiden name "Cyrus" as her professional name.
Jeffrey Allen Townes, known professionally as DJ Jazzy Jeff or simply Jazz, is an American record producer, DJ, actor and comedian who is best known for his friendship and collaboration with Will Smith as DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince.
Radio DJs or radio personalities introduce and play music broadcast on AM, FM, digital or Internet radio stations.
AM broadcasting is a radio broadcasting technology, which employs amplitude modulation (AM) transmissions. It was the first method developed for making audio radio transmissions, and is still used worldwide, primarily for medium wave transmissions, but also on the longwave and shortwave radio bands.
FM broadcasting is a method of radio broadcasting using frequency modulation (FM) technology. Invented in 1933 by American engineer Edwin Armstrong, wide-band FM is used worldwide to provide high-fidelity sound over broadcast radio. FM broadcasting is capable of better sound quality than AM broadcasting, the chief competing radio broadcasting technology, so it is used for most music broadcasts. Theoretically wideband AM can offer equally good sound quality, provided the reception conditions are ideal. FM radio stations use the VHF frequencies. The term "FM band" describes the frequency band in a given country which is dedicated to FM broadcasting.
Digital radio is the use of digital technology to transmit or receive across the radio spectrum. Digital transmission by radio waves includes digital broadcasting, and especially digital audio radio services.
Club DJs, commonly referred as DJs in general, play music at musical events, such as parties at music venues or bars, music festivals, corporate and private events. Typically, club DJs mix music recordings from two or more sources using different mixing techniques in order to produce non-stopping flow of music. One key technique used for seamlessly transitioning from one song to another is beatmatching. A DJ who mostly plays and mixes one specific music genre is often given the title of that genre; for example, a DJ who plays hip hop music is called a hip hop DJ, a DJ who plays house music is a house DJ, a DJ who plays techno is called a techno DJ, and so on. The quality of a DJ performance (often called a DJ mix or DJ set) consists of two main features: technical skills, or how well can DJ operate the equipment and produce smooth transitions between two or more recordings and a playlist, or ability of a DJ to select most suitable recordings also known as "reading the crowd".
Turntablists, also called battle DJs, use turntables and DJ mixer to manipulate recorded sounds in order to produce new music. In essence, they use DJ equipment as a musical instrument. The most known turntablist technique is scratching. Turntablists often participate in DJ contests like DMC World DJ Championships and Red Bull 3Style.
A resident DJ performs at a venue on a regular basis or permanently.They would perform regularly (typically under an agreement) in a particular discotheque, a particular club, a particular event, or a particular broadcasting station. Residents have a decisive influence on the club or a series of events. Per agreement with the management or company, the DJ would have to perform under agreed times and dates. Typically, DJs perform as residents for two or three times in a week, for example, on Friday and Saturday. Also, DJs who make a steady income from a venue, are also considered resident DJs. Wynn Nightlife and Hakkasan are well known for hiring high-profile DJs as residents with 'skyrocketing pay'.
Notable resident DJsinclude:
In Jamaican music, a deejay (DJ) is a reggae or dance-hall musician who sings and raps ("toasts") to an instrumental riddim.
As music technology has progressed, DJs have adopted different types of equipment to play and mix music, all of which are still commonly used. Traditionally, DJs used two turntables plugged into a DJ mixer to mix music on vinyl records. As compact discs became popular media for publishing music, specialized high quality CD players known as CDJs were developed for DJs. CDJs can take the place of turntables or be used together with turntables. Many CDJs can now play digital music files from USB flash drives or SD cards in addition to CDs. With the spread of portable laptop, tablet, and smartphone computers, DJs began using software together with specialized sound cards and DJ controller hardware. DJ software can be used in conjunction with a hardware DJ mixer or be used instead of a hardware mixer.
Turntables allow DJs to play vinyl records. By adjusting the playback speed of the turntable, either by adjusting the speed knob, or by manipulating the platter (e.g., by slowing down the platter by putting a finger gently along the side), DJs can match the tempos of different records so their rhythms can be played together at the same time without clashing or make a smooth, seamless transition from one song to another. This technique is known as beatmatching. DJs typically replace the rubber mat on turntables that keeps the record moving in sync with the turntable with a slipmat that facilitates manipulating the playback of the record by hand. With the slipmat, the DJ can stop or slow down the record while the turntable is still spinning. Direct-drive turntables are the type preferred by DJs, with the Technics SL-1200 being the most popular model of turntables for DJs. Belt-drive turntables are less expensive, but they are not suitable for turntablism and DJing, because the belt-drive motor does not like being slowed down, as it can stretch out the belt. Some DJs, most commonly those who play hip hop music, go beyond merely mixing records and use turntables as musical instruments for scratching, beat juggling, and other turntablism techniques.
CDJs are high quality digital media players made for DJing. They often have large jog wheels and pitch controls to allow DJs to manipulate the playback of digital files for beatmatching similar to how DJs manipulate vinyl records on turntables. CDJs often have features such as loops and waveform displays similar to DJ software. Originally designed to play music from compact discs, they now can play digital music files stored on USB flash drives and SD cards. Some CDJs can also connect to a computer running DJ software to act as a DJ controller.
DJ mixers are small audio mixing consoles specialized for DJing. Most DJ mixers have far fewer channels than a mixer used by a record producer or audio engineer; whereas standard live sound mixers in small venues have 12 to 24 channels, and standard recording studio mixers have even more (as many as 72 on large boards), basic DJ mixers may have only two channels. While DJ mixers have many of the same features found on larger mixers (faders, equalization knobs, gain knobs, effects units, etc.), DJ mixers have a feature that is usually only found on DJ mixers: the crossfader. The crossfader is a type of fader that is mounted horizontally. DJs used the crossfader to mix two or more sound sources. The midpoint of the crossfader's travel is a 50/50 mix of the two channels (on a two channel mixer). The far left side of the crossfader provides only the channel A sound source. The far right side provides only the channel B sound source (e.g., record player number 2). Positions in between the two extremes provide different mixes of the two channels. Some DJs use a computer with DJ software and a DJ controller instead of an analog DJ mixer to mix music, although DJ software can be used in conjunction with a hardware DJ mixer.
DJs generally use higher quality headphones than those designed for music consumers. DJ headphones have other properties useful for DJs, such as designs that acoustically isolate the sounds of the headphones from the outside environment (hard shell headphones), flexible headbands and pivot joints to allow DJs to listen to one side of the headphones, while turning the other headphone away (so he/she can monitor the mix in the club), and replaceable cables. Replaceable cables enables DJs to buy new cables if a cable becomes frayed, worn, or damaged, or if a cable is accidentally cut.
Closed-back headphones are highly recommended for DJs to block outside noise as the environment of DJ usually tend to be very noisy. Standard headphones have 3.5mm jack but DJ equipment usually requires ¼ inch jack. Most of specialized DJ Headphones have an adapter to switch between 3.5mm jack and ¼ inch jack. Detachable coiled cables are perfect for DJ Headphones.
DJs have changed their equipment as new technologies are introduced. The earliest DJs in pop music, in 1970s discos, used record turntables, vinyl records and audio consoles. In the 1970s, DJs would have to lug heavy direct drive turntables and crates of records to clubs and shows. In the 1980s, many DJs transitioned to compact cassettes. In the 1990s and 2000s, many DJs switched to using digital audio such as CDs and MP3 files. As technological advances made it practical to store large collections of digital music files on a laptop computer, DJ software was developed so DJs could use a laptop as a source of music instead of transporting CDs or vinyl records to gigs. Unlike most music player software designed for regular consumers, DJ software can play at least two audio files simultaneously, display the waveforms of the files on screen and enable the DJ to listen to either source.
The waveforms allow the DJ see what is coming next in the music and how the playback of different files is aligned. The software analyzes music files to identify their tempo and where the beats are. The analyzed information can be used by the DJ to help manually beatmatch like with vinyl records or the software can automatically synchronize the beats. Digital signal processing algorithms in software allow DJs to adjust the tempo of recordings independently of their pitch (and musical key, a feature known as "keylock". Some software analyzes the loudness of the music for automatic normalization with ReplayGain and detects the musical key. Additionally, DJ software can store cue points, set loops, and apply effects.
As tablet computers and smartphones became widespread, DJ software was written to run on these devices in addition to laptops. DJ software requires specialized hardware in addition to a computer to fully take advantage of its features. The consumer grade, regular sound card integrated into most computer motherboards can only output two channels (one stereo pair). However, DJs need to be able to output at least four channels (two stereo pairs, thus Left and Right for input 1 and Left and Right for input 2), either unmixed signals to send to a DJ mixer or a main output plus a headphone output. Additionally, DJ sound cards output higher quality signals than the sound cards built into consumer-grade computer motherboards.
Special vinyl records (or CDs/digital files played with CDJs) can be used with DJ software to play digital music files with DJ software as if they were pressed onto vinyl, allowing turntablism techniques to be used with digital files. These vinyl records do not have music recordings pressed on to them. Instead, they are pressed with a special signal, referred to as "timecode", to control DJ software. The DJ software interprets changes in the playback speed, direction, and position of the timecode signal and manipulates the digital files it is playing in the same way that the turntable manipulates the timecode record.
This requires a specialized DJ sound card with at least 4 channels (2 stereo pairs) of inputs and outputs. With this setup, the DJ software typically outputs unmixed signals from the music files to an external hardware DJ mixer. Some DJ mixers have integrated USB sound cards that allow DJ software to connect directly to the mixer without requiring a separate sound card.
DJ software can be used to mix audio files on the computer instead of a separate hardware mixer. When mixing on a computer, DJs often use a DJ controller device that mimics the layout of two turntables plus a DJ mixer to control the software rather than the computer keyboard & touchpad on a laptop, or the touchscreen on a tablet computer or smartphone. Many DJ controllers have an integrated sound card with 4 output channels (2 stereo pairs) that allows the DJ to use headphones to preview music before playing it on the main output.
Several techniques are used by DJs as a means to better mix and blend recorded music. These techniques primarily include the cueing, equalization and audio mixing of two or more sound sources. The complexity and frequency of special techniques depends largely on the setting in which a DJ is working. Radio DJs are less likely to focus on advanced music-mixing procedures than club DJs, who rely on a smooth transition between songs using a range of techniques. However, some radio DJs are experienced club DJs, so they use the same sophisticated mixing techniques.
Club DJ turntable techniques include beatmatching, phrasing and slip-cueing to preserve energy on a dance floor. Turntablism embodies the art of cutting, beat juggling, scratching, needle drops, phase shifting, back spinning and more to perform the transitions and overdubs of samples in a more creative manner (although turntablism is often considered a use of the turntable as a musical instrument rather than a tool for blending recorded music). Professional DJs may use harmonic mixing to choose songs that are in compatible musical keys.
Recent advances in technology in both DJ hardware and software can provide assisted or automatic completion of some traditional DJ techniques and skills. Examples include phrasing and beatmatching, which can be partially or completely automated by utilizing DJ software that performs automatic synchronization of sound recordings, a feature commonly labelled "sync". Most DJ mixers now include a beat-counter which analyzes the tempo of an incoming sound source and displays its tempo in beats per minute (BPM), which may assist with beatmatching analog sound sources.
In the past, being a DJ has largely been a self-taught craft but with the complexities of new technologies and the convergence with music production methods, there are a growing number of schools and organizations that offer instruction on the techniques.
In DJ culture, miming refers to the practice of DJ's pantomiming the actions of live-mixing a set on stage while a pre-recorded mix plays over the sound system.Miming mixing in a live performance is considered to be controversial within DJ culture. Some within the DJ community say that miming is increasingly used as a technique by celebrity model DJs who may lack mixing skills, but can draw big crowds to a venue.
During a DJ tour for the release of the French group Justice's A Cross the Universe in November 2008, controversy arose when a photograph of Augé DJing with an unplugged Akai MPD24 surfaced. The photograph sparked accusations that Justice's live sets were faked. Augé has since said that the equipment was unplugged very briefly before being reattached and the band put a three-photo set of the incident on their MySpace page.After a 2013 Disclosure concert, the duo was criticized for pretending to live mix to a playback of a pre-recorded track. Disclosure's Guy Lawrence said they did not deliberately intend to mislead their audience, and cited miming by other DJs such as David Guetta.
The term "disc jockey" was ostensibly coined by radio gossip commentator Walter Winchell in 1935, and the phrase first appeared in print in a 1941 Variety magazine, used to describe radio personalities who introduced phonograph records on the air.Playing recorded music for dancing and parties rose with the mass marketing of home phonographs in the late 19th century, and Jimmy Savile is credited with hosting the first live DJ dance party in 1943. Savile is also credited as the first to present music in continuous play by using multiple turntables. In 1947, the Whiskey A Go-Go opened in Paris as the first discoteque. In the 1960s, Rudy Bozak began making the first DJ mixers, mixing consoles specialized for DJing.
In the 1960s, Jamaican sound system culture emerged, with Jamaican deejays such as King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry pioneering dub music in the late 1960s.They experimented with tape-based composition, emphasized repetitive rhythmic structures (often stripped of their harmonic elements), electronically manipulated spatiality, sonically manipulated pre-recorded musical materials from mass media, deejays toasted (boastful chanting) over pre-recorded music, and they remixed music. Jamaican deejays later had a significant impact on hip hop DJs in the 1970s.
DJ turntablism has origins in the invention of direct-drive turntables. Early belt-drive turntables were unsuitable for turntablism and mixing, since they had a slow start-up time, and they were prone to wear-and-tear and breakage, as the belt would break from backspinning or scratching. [ citation needed ] It eliminated belts, and instead employed a motor to directly drive a platter on which a vinyl record rests. In 1969, Matsushita released it as the SP-10, the first direct-drive turntable on the market, and the first in their influential Technics series of turntables.The first direct-drive turntable was invented by Shuichi Obata, an engineer at Matsushita (now Panasonic), based in Osaka, Japan.
In 1972, Technics started making their SL-1200 turntable, which became the most popular turntable for DJs due to its high torque direct drive design.The SL-1200 had a rapid start and its durable direct drive enabled DJs to manipulate the platter, as with scratching techniques. Hip hop DJs began using the Technics SL-1200s as musical instruments to manipulate records with turntablism techniques such as scratching and beat juggling rather than merely mixing records. These techniques were developed in the 1970s by DJ Kool Herc, Grand Wizard Theodore, and Afrika Bambaataa, as they experimented with Technics direct-drive decks, finding that the motor would continue to spin at the correct RPM even if the DJ wiggled the record back and forth on the platter. Although Technics stopped producing the SL-1200 in 2010, they remain the most popular DJ turntable due to their high build quality and durability.
In 1980, Japanese company Roland released the TR-808, an analog rhythm/drum machine, which has unique artificial sounds, such as its booming bass and sharp snare, and a metronome-like rhythm. Yellow Magic Orchestra's use of the instrument in 1980 influenced hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa, after which the TR-808 would be widely adopted by hip hop DJs, with 808 sounds remaining central to hip hop music ever since.The Roland TB-303, a bass synthesizer released in 1981, had a similar impact on electronic dance music genres such as techno and house music, along with Roland's TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines.
In 1982, the Compact Disc (CD) format was released, popularizing digital audio. In 1998, the first MP3 digital audio player was released, the Eiger Labs MPMan F10. Final Scratch debuted at the BE Developer Conference, marking the first digital DJ system to allow DJs control of MP3 files through special time-coded vinyl records or CDs. While it would take sometime for this novel concept to catch on with the "die hard Vinyl DJs", This would soon become the first step in the new Digital DJ revolution. Manufacturers joined with computer DJing pioneers to offer professional endorsements, the first being Professor Jam (a.k.a. William P. Rader), who went on to develop the industry's first dedicated computer DJ convention and learning program, the "CPS (Computerized Performance System) DJ Summit", to help spread the word about the advantages of this emerging technology.
In 2001, Pioneer DJ began producing the CDJ-1000 CD player, making the use of digital music recordings with traditional DJ techniques practical for the first time. As the 2000s progressed, laptop computers became more powerful and affordable. DJ software, specialized DJ sound cards, and DJ controllers were developed for DJs to use laptops as a source of music rather than turntables or CDJs. In the 2010s, like laptops before them, tablet computers and smartphones became more powerful & affordable. DJ software was written to run on these more portable devices instead of laptops, although laptops remain the more common type of computer for DJing.
In Western popular music, women musicians have achieved great success in singing and songwriting roles, however, there are relatively few women DJs or turntablists. Part of this may stem from a general low percentage of women in audio technology-related jobs. A 2013 Sound on Sound article stated that there are "...few women in record production and sound engineering."Ncube states that "[n]inety-five percent of music producers are male, and although there are female producers achieving great things in music, they are less well-known than their male counterparts." The vast majority of students in music technology programs are male. In hip hop music, the low percentage of women DJs and turntablists may stem from the overall male domination of the entire hip hop music industry. Most of the top rappers, MCs, DJs, record producers and music executives are men. There are a small number of high-profile women, but they are rare.
In 2007 Mark Katz's article "Men, Women, and Turntables: Gender and the DJ Battle," stated that "very few women [do turntablism] battle[s]; the matter has been a topic of conversation among hip-hop DJs for years."In 2010 Rebekah Farrugia states "the male-centricity of EDM culture" contributes to "a marginalisation of women in these [EDM] spaces." While turntablism and broader DJ practices should not be conflated, Katz suggests use or lack of use of the turntable broadly by women across genres and disciplines is impacted upon by what he defines as "male technophilia." Historian Ruth Oldenziel concurs in her writing on engineering with this idea of socialization as a central factor in the lack of engagement with technology. She explains: "an exclusive focus on women's supposed failure to enter the field … is insufficient for understanding how our stereotypical notions have come into being; it tends to put the burden of proof entirely on women and to blame them for their supposedly inadequate socialization, their lack of aspiration, and their want of masculine values. An equally challenging question is why and how boys have come to love things technical, how boys have historically been socialized as technophiles."
Lucy Green has focused on gender in relation to musical performers and creators, and specifically on educational frameworks as they relate to both.She suggests that women's alienation from "areas that have a strong technological tendency such as DJ-ing, sound engineering and producing" are "not necessarily about her dislike of these instruments but relates to the interrupting effect of their dominantly masculine delineations." Despite this, women and girls do increasingly engage in turntable and DJ practices, individually and collectively, and "carve out spaces for themselves in EDM and DJ Culture". A 2015 article cited a number of prominent female DJs: Hannah Wants, Ellen Allien, Miss Kittin, Monika Kruse, Nicole Moudaber, B.Traits, Magda, Nina Kraviz, Nervo, and Annie Mac.
Female DJ The Black Madonna has been called "one of the world’s most exciting turntablists."Her stage name The Black Madonna is a tribute to her mother’s favorite Catholic saint. In 2018, The Black Madonna played herself as an in-residence DJ for the video game Grand Theft Auto Online , as part of the After Hours DLC.
There are various projects dedicated to the promotion and support of these practices such as Female DJs London.Some artists and collectives go beyond these practices to be more gender inclusive. For example, Discwoman, a New York-based collective and booking agency, describe themselves as "representing and showcasing cis women, trans women and genderqueer talent."
Scratching, sometimes referred to as scrubbing, is a DJ and turntablist technique of moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable to produce percussive or rhythmic sounds. A crossfader on a DJ mixer may be used to fade between two records simultaneously.
Turntablism is the art of manipulating sounds and creating new music, sound effects, mixes and other creative sounds and beats, typically by using two or more turntables and a cross fader-equipped DJ mixer. The mixer is plugged into a PA system for live events and/or broadcasting equipment so that a wider audience can hear the turntablist's music. Turntablists manipulate records on a turntable by moving the record with their hand to cue the stylus to exact points on a record, and by touching or moving the platter or record to stop, slow down, speed up or, spin the record backwards, or moving the turntable platter back and forth, all while using a DJ mixer's crossfader control and the mixer's gain and equalization controls to adjust the sound and level of each turntable. Turntablists typically use two or more turntables and headphones to cue up desired start points on different records.
A direct-drive turntable is one of the three main phonograph designs currently being produced. The other styles are the belt-drive turntable and the idler-wheel type. Each name is based upon the type of coupling used between the platter of the turntable and the motor.
Scratch is a 2001 documentary film, directed and edited by Doug Pray. The film explores the world of the hip-hop DJ from the birth of hip-hop when pioneering DJs began extending breaks on records, to the invention of scratching and beat juggling, to the more recent explosion of turntablism. Throughout the documentary, many artists explain how they were introduced to hip-hop while providing stories of their personal experiences.
Derek Showard, better known by the stage name GrandMixer DXT, is an American musician, one of the earliest to use turntables as a musical instrument in the 1980s.
Back spinning describes the act of manually manipulating a vinyl record, using enough force to cause the record to spin backward. It is often used in DJing; many DJs use specialty slipmats so that friction will be reduced between the record and the platter. Back spinning is used to "rewind" the sound on a record to a previous point in the audio, to slip cue or cut music mixed live by a DJ, or in beat juggling.
The Vestax Corporation was a Japanese musical instrument, turntable and audio equipment firm founded by Hidesato Shiino in 1977. The company started by designing and manufacturing electronic guitars. In the 1980s, Vestax produced multitracks recorders and later move to making DJ mixers, professional turntables, compact disc players and signal processors. Debt troubles lead to the company's bankruptcy at the end of 2014.
Vinyl emulation software allows the user to physically manipulate the playback of digital audio files on a computer using the turntables as an interface, thus preserving the hands-on control and feel of DJing with vinyl. This has the added advantage of using turntables to play back audio recordings not available in phonograph form. This method allows DJs to scratch, beatmatch, and perform other turntablism that would be impossible with a conventional keyboard-and-mouse computer interface or less tactile control devices. The technology is also mainly referred to as DVS for Digital Vinyl System.
Stanton Magnetics, founded in 1946 by Walter O. Stanton, is a manufacturer of professional and consumer audio equipment. Most of its products are aimed at DJs. It is a wholly owned subsidiary company of the privately owned Stanton Group who also own Cerwin-Vega and KRK Systems. The company has long been renowned for its line of magnetic cartridges and styli for phonographs.
A CDJ is a specialized digital music player for DJing. Originally designed to play music from compact discs, many CDJs can play digital music files stored on USB flash drives or SD cards. In typical use, at least two CDJs are plugged into a DJ mixer. CDJs have jog wheels and pitch faders that allow manipulation of the digital music file similar to a vinyl record on a DJ turntable. Many have additional features such as loops and beat analysis that are not present on turntables. Additionally, some can function as DJ controllers to control the playback of digital files in DJ software running on a laptop instead of playing the files on the CDJ.
Mixxx is free and open-source software for DJing. It is cross-platform and supports most common music file formats. Mixxx can be controlled with MIDI and HID controllers and timecode vinyl records in addition to computer keyboards and mice.
A DVJ is a DJ who composes and/or performs live using an audio-visual music player instead of an audio-only setup consisting of CD turntable players or vinyl-record turntables. This is not to be confused with a VJ, a host of a music video TV channel, or a visual-only performer separate from the DJ in a live environment.
DJ controllers are devices used to help DJs mix music with DJ software using knobs, encoders, jog wheels, faders, backlit buttons, touch strips, and other components.
Controllerism is the art and practice of using musical software controllers, e.g. MIDI, Open Sound Control (OSC), joystick, etc., to build upon, mix, scratch, remix, effect, modify, or otherwise create music, usually by a Digital DJ or Live PA performer, often called a "controllerist". Controllerism is also a nod to traditional musicianship and instrumental-ism paired with modern computer sequencing software such as Ableton Live and Native Instruments Traktor. However a working knowledge of scales and chords is not necessarily required as the performers typically focus their efforts more on sequencing events, software effect and instrument manipulations using buttons, knobs, faders, keys, foot switches and pedals than on instrumental notes played in real time. With recent developments in music technology, particularly in software instruments, a USB MIDI controller enables musicians almost unlimited possibilities to control a wide variety of sound types.
Cross/CrossDJ is a digital vinyl and DJ mixing software developed by the French company Mixvibes. This software provides DJs with a digital platform with which they can mix and perform their music. Since its release in 2008, it has become Mixvibes primary focus.
Pioneer DJ is a brand of Pioneer Corporation that represents the company's range of DJ products. In March 2015 KKR acquired an 85.05 percent stake. The Pioneer DJ product range comprises DJ mixers, decks, headphones, effects units, all-in-one consoles, DJ software controllers, monitor speakers and various accessories. The current professional grade CDJ-2000 Nexus 2 decks and DJM-900 Nexus 2 mixer can be seen in DJ booths all over the world.
DJing is the act of playing existing recorded music for a live audience.
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