Over To You: Help With Mixing Latin Music

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 5 April, 2018

Jose is struggling to mix Latin music – can you help?

Reader Jose R writes: “I am an upcoming DJ and I am really working hard to master this craft. I am more into Latin music but I also work with other genres such as Top 40 and house. My problems comes when counting the bars in songs to get them beatmatch in order to have a good transition. I can’t seem to be able to find the count on Latin (Salsa, Merengue, Bachata) as easy as I can on other genres. Is there anything I can do to help this process and get better?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

You’re not going to want to hear it, but practise! Learning to beatmatch is like learning a new language – literally. Your brain has to be “rewired” to get used to listening to two tunes at once. And just like when learning a new language, the simple words are easier than the complex ones. so it is with music styles. So while house and techno are relatively easy to mix, more complex music types (like Latin, drum and bass etc), even though they may be recorded to an electronic click track so are perfectly uniform in tempo, aren’t as easy, simply because the brain struggles to align the rhythms more. (Of course, introduce disco, funk, or any other music that isn’t of a uniform tempo and you’re getting into real pro territory…)

Salsa, bachata and merengue can all theoretically be mixed together because they have the same “time signature” (actually, merengue is technically 2/4 time while the others are 4/4, but don’t worry about that). The issue is in getting used to spotting the downbeats, counting the bars and knowing where to mix. The first two are the practice bit, but the final point – knowing where to mix – can be learned by listening to other DJs, mixes online and so on.

However, I have to hold my hands up and say I do not mix Latin music myself, and as I know we have readers who do, I’ve made this question an “over to you”.

So… over to you! Are you a Latin DJ? Have you got any tips or advice you can give to Jose? I’d love you to help out by add your advice below. Thanks!

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