Home Forums The DJ Booth How to choose tracks to mix?

This topic contains 25 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  DJ Vintage 3 years, 11 months ago.

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    Implanted Soul

    Ok i understand what you said. But can you please explain how u decide when finding second song goes into nicely? Is it about sound? bass sound, kick sound and bassline type? Now i can only find song that goes well together, from same key note.


    Dom James

    More then anything it comes quite naturally to me? Sound is the main thing does the following song lead on from the current one in the way i want it too, again analysing kick drum and patterns, bass lines is all very well and good but youre chasing a technically perfect mix


    DJ Vintage

    Hey Implanted,

    Once again I can tell your desire to learn, acquire knowledge and become good at this.

    Also it seems like you want “what’s right” explained to you in bits and bytes. And DJ-ing isn’t about that, it’s about intuition, about instinctively knowing things work or don’t work together.

    Here’s an exercise for you. Get about 40 tracks from somewhere (borrow them from friends, family, other DJs). Do NOT figure out the key, the BPM, the energy level.

    Just get a notepad next to your players/controller.

    Play track a) and write down what you think/feel about the track. Give it your own energy rating if you like. Write down if any other songs you already know come to mind that you feel could be compatible and work well together.
    Repeat for the next 40 tracks.

    Now you should have a couple of tracks that you feel might go well together. Get those tracks and listen to them and note the way they are built up. Write down what parts you find most interesting and which you think are less exciting (or even boring). Write down where you think you could do a good mix in or out. Or where you could do a loop.

    Then start making those mixes. Run the recorder. Listen while you mix. Sounds good to you? Then it probably works. Not sure? Listen a few more times to your recording. Still in doubt? Probably not a very strong match. Doesn’t sound good at all? Break the bond between those two tracks and move to the next possible match.

    The point of this exercise is to teach you to listen to your music, not in a mathematical way with bpms, energylevels from tools or keys, but with your heart and soul. THAT, my young friend, is where DJ-ing lives. And it won’t lie to you, trust me.

    So relax and start enjoying DJ-ing for the joy of DJ-ing, the rest will follow of it’s own accord.


    Dom James

    Vintage, I thank you for putting into words what I’ve been trying! The thing you mention with the rating system is spot on, i rate all my tracks out of 10 for energy level, heaviness and how much of a banger it is! 🙂 Listen to vintage implanted, he speaks very wise words.


    Implanted Soul


    Thank you all for your recommendation.
    I am already doing that with 100 tracks that i picked. But the main problem is that tracks in psytrance goes mainly with bass in outros and intros. So when mixing outro&intro, basses and kicks should blend for mix to sound well. With tracks with basses and kicks from different keys, i can’t make a good mix.
    1-) What do you recommend for the problem mentioned above?
    2-) Can u explain “energy rating” a bit more? How can i rate energy levels? What do you mean by saying energy level?
    3-) Does “compatible tracks” means tracks with easy blending sounds or tracks with similar journeys?


    DJ Vintage

    1) Listen to mixes by other people who only mix Psytrance, do they only use harmonic mixing?

    2) Let’s call it the measure in which it makes you wanna move when you are still sitting in a chair. 1 = I’ll stay in my seat and have another Red Bull to prevent from falling asleep to 10 = Where have you been all my life, out of my way, I HAVE to move! Like genres, YOU determine this, not some tool (although it can help if you happen to agree with their levels – but don’t depend on it). Something I might find rather high energy you might consider medium or vice versa. Again, it’s not computer magic, it can’t be taught because it’s in you (by which I mean in each person individually).

    Clearly if you play only Psytrance and you divide that genre up into energy levels, tracks get another level than someone who only plays an occassional Psytrance would give them (all psytrance will most likely have one, perhaps two levels in that case). Compare it to the word snow. If it hardly ever snows where you live, you may have two or three words to distinguish between kinds of snow. If you live in Alaska and deal with snow a big part of the year, you might have 100 words to describe various kinds of snow.

    3) Compatible, as I tried to explain, is exactly what you need to learn to distinguish. It’s a feeling, not exact science. I have said before, if that could be caught in formulas, machines could DJ, which – thank God – they (still) can’t.
    Any self-respecting DJ that has spent time with music discovery will be able to tell you after listening to two random tracks if they most likely are mixable or not (never mind the technical options for that mix, it’s not about the technique here), i.e. will they SOUND GOOD TOGETHER!

    You are the DJ, you have to find solutions for things to work. You can’t rely on picking only those tracks that software tools tell you should be mixable because they have comparable BPM, key and energy levels. It’s what many of us have tried to tell you in lots of messages now. I can safely say that this is one of the most extensive exchanges on this forum about a single topic.

    It does seem that we are not really getting through to you. Your replies state things you CAN’T do, but which you should be able to (trial and error and practice, practice, practice). You literally say “with tracks from basses and kick from different keys, I can’t make a good mix”. There are two solutions to that problem, you can find only tracks in compatible keys (easy, buy Mixed in Key and be done with it) or learn the other skill everyone has told you about by using your EARS and your feeling, your heart, your intuition.

    You sound like you are way too harsh on yourself. Like making a bad mix is gonna kill you. Correct me if I am wrong, you are not playing for a full house twice a week, are you? So what if something isn’t perfect, if you think it should work, practice til you get it right or move on and find another combination. Being genetically engineered towards perfectionist myself, I understand the need for perfection and the pain of being not perfect. But trust me, DJ-ing is all about daring to be wrong, to make mistakes, because in that realm lies improvement and learning.

    Frankly, I will not answer anymore questions on this topic as it has been exhausted to the point of every single answer invoking at least three more questions without generating the feeling the answers are being “gotten”. And some questions just address things that have been answered earlier or in your other thread.

    I won’t close the topic, because others may not have exhausted their need to contribute to this thread and I wish you lots of succes with your learning curve and I hope somehow you will be able to let go a bit and enjoy this great hobby/job we all love as a common passion.

    If you have any other questions on other topics, don’t hesitate to make a NEW post and we’ll all be here to pitch in with our two cents.



    I’ve not found MiK’s energy level to be all that useful, although I am trying to improve the integration between MiK and my DJ software so that it actually shows the energy level throughout the track… though I do not think this will benefit me in selecting compatible songs so much as give me a little more information when I am restructuring the track while I play.

    One thing that I don’t believe I have noticed in this thread yet that is useful, but is discussed a fair bit elsewhere on this site… it is generally safe to pitch shift a track up or down one to two semitones without ruining the track. A semitone is +/- 7, so you can turn a 9A into a 2A or a 4A (rotating back around)… thus allowing you a lot more variety in what you can mix together in a harmonic mix.

    This is one of the things I have been integrating into the intelligent algorithms I’ve built into my software, but it isn’t something that you need anything nearly so fancy to use… ya just gotta be aware that it’s there. Using this method, you can actually cause your entire music collection to be within a handful of keys to each other (I did the math for this a while ago, but don’t have that analysis data available to me any more or I would share the full details).

    I am crazy mad for harmonic mixing, as I really love to be doing constant live mashup style mixing… in my mixes, it’s not uncommon for any given track to be playing by itself for no more than about 16 seconds or so.


    Implanted Soul

    Hi there,

    Thank you for all your comments and help. I have no more questions in my mind about chosing tracks to mix.


    DJ Vintage

    Deathy! Welcome back.



    Hey, Chuck, thanks! Been a rough few months, it is very good to be back.


    DJ Vintage

    I hear that … chat me up in private sometime soon, my man.

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