Introduction | Types | Qualities of a DJ

Introduction and History of DJ

A disc jockey, often abbreviated as DJ, is a person who plays existing recorded music for a live audience. Originally, the 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. 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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

History

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.[33] 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

Types of DJ and qualities of a DJ

Radio DJs 

They introduce and play music broadcast on AM, FM, digital or Internet radio stations.

Club DJs

Club DJs, commonly referred to 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

Turntablists, also called battle DJs, use turntables and DJ mixers 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

Residents DJ

A resident DJ performs at a venue on a regular basis or permanently.[3][4][5] They would perform regularly (typically under an agreement) in a particular discotheque, a particular club, a particular event, or a particular broadcasting station.[6][7][8] Residents have a decisive influence on the club or a series of events.[9] Per agreement with the management or company, the DJ would have to perform under agreed times and dates.[4][10] 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.[11][12] Wynn Nightlife and Hakkasan are well known for hiring high-profile DJs as residents with ‘skyrocketing pay’.

Notable resident DJs are

Richie Hawtin – Amnesia, Ibiza

Larry Levan – Paradise Garage, New York City

Alfredo Fiorito – Amnesia, Ibiza

Tama Sumo – Panorama Bar, Berlin

David Mancuso – The Loft, New York

Fish Go Deep – Cork, Ireland

Tiësto – Hakkasan, Las Vegas

Avicii – Encore Beach Club, Las Vegas

Deadmau5 – Hakkasan, Las Vegas

Calvin Harris – Hakkasan, Las Vegas

Kaskade – Encore Beach Club, Las Vegas

Skrillex – Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Björk – Björk Digital, various countries

Martin Garrix – Hï Ibiza

Mobile DJs
DJs with their own portable audio sound systems who specialize in performing at gatherings such as block parties, street fairs, taverns, weddings, birthdays, school and corporate events. Mobile DJs may also offer lighting packages and video systems.

DJanes
A term describing female DJs used in countries such as Germany that employ grammatical gender in their languages.

Celebrity DJs
Widely known celebrities performing as DJs.

Bedroom DJs
A general term for DJs performing at home, usually recording their sets and posting them online.