10 Commandments For Better Digital DJing, #2

10 commandments how to dj rules of djing
Last modified August 18, 2014

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Pre-digital DJing
DJing has a long and rich history, and the smart digital DJ owes it to him or herself to learn something about it. Pic: DJ’s Portal

Hundreds of you read and watch our first commandment yesterday, and your comments together with our guidelines are, we hope, going to build into the definitive manifesto for how to “do” digital DJing. By the end of this ten days, together we will have built a great knowledge base for all digital DJs to learn from, so please continue to help us by Liking each rule (if you agree with it, of course).

On that point, of course we realise that not all of these guidelines could possibly apply to all DJs in all eventualities, but we’re pretty sure the vast majority of them apply to the vast majority of our type of DJ – people just like you, digital DJs who are in it for the music and who care deeply about their craft.

Today’s commandment

Without obeying today’s commandment, new digital DJs are doomed to never be better than the DJs who have come before them. Here it is:

Commandment #2: Respect the history of DJing.

Non-digital DJs sometimes get so defensive and angry with us in the digital DJing community, sometimes going as far as saying we’re destroying the art of DJing. By respecting DJing’s history, we can not only show them that’s not true, but we can better ourselves at the same time.

So, as this is a campaign, first we’d like you to help us spread the word by clicking the Facebook Like button at the end of the post if you enjoy it – particularly today, because we need the non-digital DJs out there to read this too.

 

Video

 

Resources

  • One of the most fun ways of exploring the way DJs can sample music and reinvent it, and the way a simple piece of music can be looped and used as the basis for literally whole scenes, is the Amen break mentioned in the video. Head over to It’s a DJ’s Life for three fascinating videos documenting the history of the Amen break. There are so many tracks that use the Amen break, it even has its own database!
  • Want to learn a bit more about cutting breaks together to make a continuous rhythm – the kind of stuff that looping makes easy with today’s gear? Check out the originator of it all, DJ Kool Herc, describing how he invented this style, in this video: Kool DJ Herc, Merry Go Round
  • Try watching this video from the prolific internet DJ tutor Ellaskins, in which he builds on what Kool Herc shows us in the video in the previous point, explaining how you can mix two records using nothing more than the crossfader. After you’ve watched it, try and work out how you would duplicate this on a DJ controller. Hint: Look in your preferences to set the crossfader curve, and use cue points to mark the start of musical sections. Most DJ software has spinback and brake effects, to copy the vinyl techniques of the same name. Could you use those effects to add old school vinyl mixing techniques to your digital armoury?
  • Want to know how early mixtapes were made? Check out this guide to cut editing. If you want to make your own mashups, this is a basic skill that hasn’t changed, only now you do it on the screen, not on the editing block
  • If you feel your digital music is badly organised and it is distracting you at gigs, we’ve got tons of resources right here on Digital DJ Tips to help you. Getting that “80 records” feeling comes from doing your homework: A good place to start is Why Packing a Good Box of Tunes is More Important Than Ever, which is a comparison of how I used to pack my tunes in the vinyl days compared to how I do it now
  • We talk about looking for inspiration outside of your scene and why it pays to keep an open mind in What Family Pop Concerts Can Teach You About DJing
  • If you’re a movie type of person, had over to Musidocs where you’ll find the best collection anywhere of music documentaries including a priceless wealth of dance and DJ culture material
  • Last but definitely not least, the very best book you can add to your collection about the history of DJing is Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey. It’s over 10 years old now, but if you want to feel proud of where you’ve come from and learn from the greats, there’s still no better guide

We hope this material has been useful to you, and thank you once again for Liking this post in order to help us spread our campaign for better digital DJing far and wide…

• Watch out tomorrow for the third of our 10 “commandments”. And thanks again for your support.

Check out the other parts of this series:

What are your views on our second commandment? What have non-digital DJs or DJs from the past taught you? Or do you disagree with us, and feel that as digital DJs, we should forget the past and reinvent everything for ourselves? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.