Over To You: How Can I Mix Well Between Different Genres?

Genres

Do you want to chop and change effectively around the genres when you DJ? Here’s a few tips how to do it.

Digital DJ Tips reader Aantiik writes: “One thing that I struggle with when making a great mix is finding the right transition style. I try to show diversity with my mixes to keep the crowd happy, but that can come at the cost of serious jumps in BPM. Sometimes listening to other DJ mixes, I am impressed with their transitions but find it difficult to recreate those same builds and drops that turn out smoothly. I love to play house and trance (that always mixes easy), but like to throw in those occasional old school funk, dub and trap bangers.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Great question. The first step is to study the DJs who you respect, which is already what you’re doing, so that’s great. I often think good mixing is a bit like being a magician; You are aiming to fool “most of the people, most of the time”, and of course as the guy pulling the tricks, you’re never going to fool yourself! So I guess what I’m saying is don’t be too hard on yourself.

Having said that, there are tricks you can employ. Funnily enough we’re currently filming a dozen or so advanced mixing tutorials for the Digital DJ Masterclass, our forthcoming course, but my main tip right now is to stop trying to do the perfect mix (ie make the actual point where the two songs join perfect), and start thinking about the perfect way to complement both songs. If they are choppy, changing songs, then a choppy mix can be the right thing to do!

Mixing at breaks often helps, as does matching similar sonic elements (white noise, basslines) . Finally, dropping in a new track on an instantly recognisable riff can win the crowd before they start thinking about BPM or style change. Think “the right tracks, mixed simply” rather than big, grandiose, complex mixes for the sake of it. As I say, we’re spending many weeks on filming a load of videos to go deeper into this, but I am sure in the meantime many of our readers will want to share some of their personal advice with you as well, as I know lots of folk struggle with the same question.

So, over to you! Do you play different genres in the same set? What tricks do you employ to keep things following and the dancefloor grooving as you shift around the BPMs and styles? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. if you want to make it more harmonic, right key and right song choice makes the transition. nowadays it seems that harmonic, relaxed mixing just isn’t enough so you might have to make it more aggressive and easier to notice.

  2. King of Snake says:

    easiest trick:
    try to find the same song in the other genre…simple but effective. try to change around a break or so..
    soundcloud is a good source for this.
    second trick: use an acapella version and switch with the acapella still playing.

    have fun!

    regards,
    KoS

    • ^you mean remix I presume. ^^ That works also, there’s usually couple genres available that are currently in. You can’t find every genre though, usually there’s dnb/dubstep/electro/edm remixes available. Mashups also work, if you can find any decent sounding.

    • Yeh, for example if your switching from a 127/128 to a 140 bpm track you can use 2 different remixes of the same track. Then you can switch genre and continue playing.

      If you dont have a different remix of the same track and you want to switch tempos, you can do a simple Delay and let the song echo and then chooos a wise time to quickly bring in the “changed tempo” track, diving into the next genre.

  3. I usually find a loop, match the beat and then kill the bass from the first song and let the song end. After that, take the bpm back to the original speed, let it loop for a while so that the crowed will have a little brake and they will start preparing their selfs to the new style, and then let it roll.
    Or if u want a dramatical transition with energy boost i usually use the backspin or brake.

  4. Genres are very useful, but they can hinder the potential of a mix. I believe genres are best used when you want to understand a certain piece of music (where it comes from, what impact it had, what impact it can have now etc). When you are mixing, however, you should in my opinion focus more on the atmosphere you want to create. For example, a lot of pop artists are quite eclectic, so you can easily throw a Bruno Mars into a reggae mix (if your audience is not made of purists, of course) or a Lady Gaga remixed in a harder electronic set. And the more you stay far from the mainstream, the more people will appreciate a clever twist.

  5. How about mixing from English to spanish. How can anyone do that. Well, I hear radio dj’s do that and they do it nicely. I believe most of the good mixes are prerecorded and not live.

  6. I find it hard not to mix genres. :)
    Not really a fan of single genre mixing as I find it very tedious most of the time even if I like the genre. Usually seems like it is aimed at people too drunk or high on drugs, who are happy to hear several hours of songs that hardly differ from one track to the next and with next to no tempo or rhythmical variation.

  7. If I know of transition tunes that will work AND not lose the crowd, then I’ll do that. Other than that, I’ll cleverly just slam in the new tune and thus change the room.

    It’s important not to get so hung up on transition tunes that you lose the crowd. I know it sounds awesome to have a fluid set, but sometimes you’ll lose the crowd in a transition piece and thus have a harder time bringing them back with the new genre you brought on.

  8. I plan my sets according to bpm. I start out with hip-hop 90-100. Then I find songs with bpms in between and work my way up to moombahton at 110-120. After that I do house at 125-130, dubstep and trap from 135-150, and then more trap and drum and bass at 160-176. I use basic beat matching and cueing in at buildups for almost every transition going up a little bit at a time. But always keep the tempo going up. It’s a real turn off if you go from a trap banger at 150 to a moombahton song at 110. Hope this helped!

  9. I find that sampling the song you’re going to mix in by jumping to different recognizable cues or loops with the bass off on that new track will let people know that something is about to happen. Then, when the song you’re playing is building (or even if it’s not and you can find the right spot), set a loop for something around 2 beats, then shorten it in rhythm again and again until you get a buzz. After that, you can raise the pitch until it’s at it’s peak, and then slap the crossfader across and play the drop of that new song you wanted to switch in. This method requires little planning or matching of pitch and bpm because you interrupt whatever pattern was going. This is something you might want to use once or twice within a half hour set if you need to change bpm or pitch drastically, like when you transition from 2 extremely different genres. I hope this little tip helps!

  10. Some very complicated methods suggested…feeling and mood are two most important things and mixing the least….of course recognisable riffs and samples etc but some of the best most amazing eclectic sets are also the simplest based on the two factors mentioned above.

  11. I use harmonic mixing and try finding a BPM almost near the current song’s BPM.

  12. Fig masta says:

    1st – try to beatmatch the songs
    2nd – try to loop a main part of the next song
    3rd – fx (filter, brake or backspin) at the right time

  13. I recognise the situation (very much) I love all kinds of music, the Too Many DJ’s cd was such an eye opener for me. I Have a whole bag of tricks, but Just as you I am rarely happy with what I pull of. One thing I am looking into hard lately is mixflow in genres. House, techno, electeo and such are usually mixed smooth: long, gradual transitions. Trap and such usully sound good by slamming the next tune in. So right now the question I’m trying to solve is how can I get the crowd out of the trance (state, not music) flow, and into a more eventdriven mixing style without losing them. Okay, so for the trick bag:
    1As another reader I used to mix moving up in BPM, mixing all genres within BPM ranges.
    2: i highlight tracks with speed changes. If you’re into freaky disco, vist & meiland -stars is an excellent example.
    3 intermezzo’s: slam in a crazy tune that everybody knows (star wars, super mario, tv series jingle) and then slam in a banger in the new genre (try slamming in super mario and the baauer. It’s cheesy but works well enough)
    4 themes! Find a word or theme in the current track and then accentuate it (loop) and mix in a tune which is somehow related (green velvet’s new ‘Bigger than Prince and after that play something that samples prince (ural diktators – ural disco or aardvarck – leuk hè, or a Prince original) I love this one, and so does the crowd!
    5 loops are generally a good tool
    6 cue points! Just switch to mixable parts, or cut it up
    7 live remixing (acapella’s, loops, cue point juggling)
    U can go all crazy with more complicated stuff, but usually the simpler things work best. Best advise would be that when u change to a new genre you pick a song that is popular, rather then artisically awesome, so you don’t lose the crowd straight away.

  14. Echo freeze is a good way to smoothly transition between two different styles/bpm’s although it should be used tastefully

    • Agreed. Another technique I discovered using echo freeze is to trigger the echo freeze on the track your mixing out of then pausing that deck. The echo continues but if your decks are synced (speaking in Traktor terms here) and your master is set to auto, when you cue the next track the rate of the echo will jump to the new tracks bpm.

      This doesn’t work everywhere but is a unique way of jumping 10 bpm or so and has a nice energy boost. I always do this and any other large bpm transition on the same key. To me anything else sounds very forced.

  15. Most of my live sets I switch between genres. I usually match the higher BPM track’s tempo with the slower one, mix the intro with part of the previous, mix out the previous track giving me time to speed it up, and then slowly increase the tempo of the track before the drop. This can really amp up the energy of the set and get the crowd going really well :)

  16. Chuck "DJ Vintage" van Eekelen says:

    I remember clearly the days when it was absolutely fine to make some funny remark on the microphone and do a nice fade out / fade in while you are talking. No such luck for you youngster anymore! HA!

    I used to have a soundbite from Monty Python where they go “And now … for something completely different!”. I’d let the outgoing track run out, start the soundbite and then start the new record. Worked like a charm (obviously don’t do this 5 times a night 8-))

    Greetinx,
    C.

  17. Most of my gigs are multi-genre so mixing between 6 to 10 genre in one gig is quite common because some of my gigs I will do all request hours, so won’t know what I will be playing until a few minutes before I play it. Often when going from one genre to another I just use the time trusted beat match. It is very important to select songs that have an intro (BPM is not as important to me). This will give you a few second to get the beat match perfect. Or sometimes when going from say Dubstep to Country I just use great sound effects to mask the beat of the current and next songs. This process works every time. I can make people dance to classical music.

  18. Here is a technical method and a general practice that I find myself doing. For my example: we are playing Track A (100 BPM) and mixing in Track B (112 BPM):

    1) Track A is rocking. I use delay matched with the new Track B tempo and sprinkle in short medium wet delay snippets and/or really wet high feedback delays. You have to really use your ears on this and use sparingly so it doesn’t get sloppy. Then when I mix Track A out, I turn delay up on Track A (delay still set to Track B tempo of 112 BPM) and it can fade out nicely or you can play with it for a little wiith short snippets while adhering to the new Track B tempo.

    2) Just a general rule for the lower BPM tracks (less than 120 BPM) and sticking with my example Tracks A and B, mixes tend to sound better if you just jack the BPM quickly rather than riding it over 3 minutes (granted some epic techno/prog house/dnb mixes can be made by slowly raising the BPM). Track A is playing at 100 BPM, right before a drop/drum fill jack it up to 104 BPM, mix in Track B at 104 BPM, mix out Track A, and jack Track B up to 112 BPM at the right moment.

    Cheers.

  19. HI. I just had a gig Friday where I had to juggle alot of different genre requests. Instead of leaving a long comment please click the link to read my blog post that has my full set list included. You can see what songs I played, where things changed and how I brought the music back to where I wanted it to go in the end.
    Thanks
    http://djpossess.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/djs-know-your-audience-know-your-music-beatmatch-meh/

  20. Really don’t worry about it too much. DJs get very hung up on the transitions between tracks. To your audience it really isn’t that important. Just focus on your sound and the songs you play your audience will love you for that. Just practise practise and more practise with as many different songs you can get your hands on. The technical ability will come over time trust me.

    • This is the best advice on this entire thread.

      Practice, experience and patience are what I’ll add. When you’re new, your tool box is limited, and I’m not even talking about your hardware. I’m referring to the technical skills and your knowledge of what mixes naturally/actually work.

      Once you’ve practiced and played enough, especially out in public where you get to test what works well with crowds, then you slowly build up your bag of tricks. When you have enough tricks, you get to the point where it becomes seamless and it looks easy.

      I stand behind the advice above because of experience. Once I figured out that most people don’t care about clever transitions as much as DJs, it opened up the door to more improvisation and experimentation. Until you do that, you’ll limit yourself.

      Just don’t be afraid to try something new or even something you haven’t heard before. You can only emulate so much before you’re just biting off someone completely.

  21. Ride the BPM up gradually over several tracks, then half it when you want to make that change. Once you’re up past 120-125 BPM, like house, you can get yourself into hip-hop/dub/trap. Dropping BPMs doesn’t necessarily mean a drop in energy. You just have to know your music and know your crowd.

    If it works and the crowd feels it, then you can continue in that genre. If they don’t, then you have the freedom to bounce back up at double-time to get back to the 120s.

    When all else fails, backspin and/or drop the next track. Not as many people are judging you as you think.

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