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Scratch DJ Academy presents: DJ Fundamentals

Lesson 6 of 13

Mixing Based on Song Structure

DJ Hapa

Scratch DJ Academy presents: DJ Fundamentals

DJ Hapa

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Lesson Info

6. Mixing Based on Song Structure

Lesson Info

Mixing Based on Song Structure

I often times like we'll run into djs who, um brag about how big their record collection is and how you are how big their music collections oh, I've got three terabytes of music you're never going to play three terabytes of music like it be impossible for you to play three terabytes of music and d j off three terabytes of music and for the crowd to enjoy it it would just not be possible so I really want to like emphasized in this section more than anything is that it's definitely quality over quantity it's better that you have one hundred songs that you know really, really well then tow have ten thousand songs that you only really know five percent of them um well, then end up happening is you'll play something and you'll be live and you'll be d j and I'm sure that there's people out there that have experienced this I've experiences your d jane and you're a song is playing and how you're you can't figure out how to get out of it like it's like literally being on a ride that you don't k...

now how to stop and it was trying to figure out like man like, how do I get out of this? I have no idea where to go from here I have no idea what have you ever experienced that any of you guys yes it's the worst feeling ever it's like getting up in front of people and not knowing what to say you know um excuse me everybody I have something really important to say damn, I forgot what? You know what I mean it be that type of feeling um cool. So what else do they need to know about the songs before you try and mix them the brakes the bright why do you need to know the brakes? You're right but I don't need to know the break because uh, because you need to know where the the lyrics stop in the inch of mental kicks in and why would you need to know that? Because it's very awkward to mix lyrics into lyrics okay, good. And so ultimately what you're looking for as you're looking for how to get out of the record right? And then what else do you need to know to the new one? So basically what this boils down to is mixing is all about three things one was the first one uh the first one that we've just covered tempo, tempo or bpm right? Okay so tempo bpm and then how to get in how to get out that's what it's all about mixing is all about this however there are more djs that do this then djs that do all three of these they're definitely like thes this how to get in and out that is not addressed most djs that I know um don't do that like I didn't I didn't do that before I started teaching and when I started teaching, um again, one of the nicest things about the academy is it's like this mind share of, like, how everybody learned and like sort of figuring out the best way to teach d jane and further the art form so what the consensus was is you need to know how to get in and how to get out so before you even start deejay before even put the song up here too, then deejay with you should figure out how to get in and how to get out and the way to do that is to break down the song this part is what I was saying is like going to be like this like, light bulb going off? Um, so this is always fun um, everybody here's heard of, uh, michael jackson billie jean yes, you all know that record you've heard that probably thousands, if not maybe even millions of times that's how, um can you tell me how long is the first course? How many bars is the first course? Thirty two it's not, but but it's interesting, right? Like you've never really thought about that like that you've never really sat down and counted it out how long is the second course is the second course the same length as the first course and is there a section in that record that is instrumental and if so, how long is that instrumental like these are questions that we don't even need to address his listeners right? But as a deejay I'm stuck with what I've got I've stuck I'm stuck with the music as how it was made so the difference here between a d j and a band is if the band like wants to make this course sixteen bars we could do that we can play that for sixteen bars if somebody misses a step, we can kind of adjusted on the fly and nobody will maybe know as as much like we have a little bit more control their problem with d jane is that like it set the way it is and if we miss the break if we miss the place to get out now it's like you said now we run into a section where like it doesn't sound good to mix out of it in that place, right? So it's really important that you become a student of the music that you study the music that you learn how this song was made and how it was structured now the nice thing with technology to is now we can manipulate that and using software, whatever I can make that, of course sixteen bars I can make, you know, I can take that instrumental bridge and maybe loop it there and create an infinite loop of instrumental there or be able to take that section, pop it out and put it somewhere else and restructure the song that's all in a completely different, like type of lesson. But I just want you to keep in mind for now, let's work on the way the song is was made in the way that the song is structured to figure it out. Okay, so it's like a puzzle, so we're trying to figure out like the puzzle. So what I'm going to do is this I'm gonna do this thing called mapping out the song. So I'm going to map out the record and figure out like what the different sections are now. I want to go back to the phrase real quick. One, two, three, four, two, two, three, four, three, two, three, four, four, two, three, four and then the one comes again now two, three, four. Now this is a phrase, right is what we talked about before. The most important piece here is the one everything happens on the one everything happens on the one, the change in sections happens on the one so the verse starts on the one the hook starts on the one the hook is the same as the court they start on the one so let's actually let's talk about this real quick uh what are the different pieces of a song the basic pieces of a song start you off intro what else? The brake okay so the break is also called the bridge the hook which is also called for moshe for us of course there we go cool um so coarse or hook bridge or break what else uh well the bases the bases an actual instrument that is a part of um that but like structurally like with the verse the verse okay cool verse correct so not all genres of music have all of these things but there are sections matter what um and then what's the opposite of cool so these are the five basic parts of song that you also have like a pre pre course often times right sometimes you have these other sects in that you don't even really know what they're called now with a lot of the music that's out like people often refer to the drop right when this song drops uh that would be so pretty much like the course that would have the same sort of effect what is the most popular part of the song out of these five pieces of course very good so the course is what everybody knows right? The courses the the part that's the sing along part it repeats itself it's the part that everybody knows in fact it's funny once we start mapping out music I'm gonna have you guys at home also even to like this will be good like sort of homework and I don't want you to think of it as like homework in a bad way but like homework in a good way to like figure out your music to like learn more about your music but what you'll find is that a lot of pop music today is very hook heavy like I mean there's more hooks than versace for sure and in some songs there's not even really a much of a verse um a lot of it is just all pre course course and like little sections here in there um a good example of that is like um drake hold on we're going home that song that came out like it was that last year that's always there's no verse in that it's all like repetitive pieces um well they go yeah turned out for what? There's no there's no uh there's really no uh verse there either yeah that's a good point sweet so but you'll start to analyze this so courses the part that everybody wants to hear right um and medium what we're talking about is this would also be like the drop right so what happens if I mix out before the course before the drop what happens what happens with the audience build up and then you don't drop it total there wait for the drop waiting for the drop and it never comes you're waiting for the course and it never comes it gets cut off or what happens if I don't know the length of course there's a chance I might cut it short maybe I cut it halfway through the course which would also be bad um I mean can you imagine this is a bit of a throwback record but hip hop array uh you know what if you cut it right there like that would be terrible right? So it's really important that you know the sections and how long things are so I'm gonna just write something really quick um which would kind of be something like this let's say there was an intro let's say the intro is eight bars let's then say that that went into a verse and the verse was twelve bars um let's say went into a course and the course was eight bars and then let's say we went into another verse and this first was sixteen bars and then into another course which is eight bars then into a bridge that was eight bars I'm just making this up this is just a song that I'm making up in my head and then this goes into another course that is eight bars and then this goes into an outro that is eight bars. Okay, now when I say intro well, actually first let's look it so this is the song okay? If you were to transition to the new record, I'm not even talking like things blending and laying on top of each other. I'm just talking about simply just going from this song to them this song where would be the most natural point to change the record? Where in the middle which one is when the verse or whichever segment ends, um is very specific right before right on the downbeat of the next part good and that would probably be right here right here, maybe right here, here and I mean here at the end of the trial could be a plain point. Two all of these points are after the course, right? So I'm leaving the chorus the way it needs to be that's the course needs to run its course and then now I'm into the next song so I wouldn't want to change the record here, right? This is no good. I also would not want to change the record here before the course that's no good also and this is just changing the record just going from this to the new record is everybody does that make sense for everybody? This is the most natural point in the record, because this one what this will be like I said, everything happens with one so it's, like an here's the course and here's the verse, but instead of an here's, the verse it's an here's, the verse of the new song so we're using the natural part of the record to be able to do that. Like what you hear is there's a change that happens right before the one even though we're looking at like, a drum pattern of some sort of like, kick snare combination here, um, this would be I want you to listen really quick, you're gonna hear a change, I'm gonna count this for you I'm gonna count the bars for you just so that you get an idea for like, how I'm counting, okay? And then I want you to listen because you're going to hear a change that happens for the one you hear different instrument. So what I want you to hear something is gonna happen on the one is a downbeat you actually refer to it. Is that the downbeat? Yeah it's a kick drum. In fact, if I would've scratched the one you hear that that base your sound there that's that's, the actual kick drum one so now on this small system you're not going to feel that if I did this on a big sound system you would feel this in your chest that one? Okay, so this is the one the second drum which by the homeland back up real quick so different parts of the song we got right different sections the track is also built this way too so we've got drums, melody vocals so like sort of basic pieces basic pieces of what's there obviously like you have your baseline and there is well um but vocals melody like let's put baseline in there what do we focused on which one of these for we focused on we'll focus on one thing which one drums why? Because that's that's the constant right that's where the structure is the structures in the drums that's where this the structures now this what I'm teaching right now in this segment is going to change the way that you look at music forever forever it will change the way that you look at music in it well, in a deejay way, like in a good way and in a deejay way like it's gonna force you to, like, hear music differently after this module, we're focused on the drums, okay, what do most people who listen to music focus on out of these things? The melody vocals for the melody how often do you hear somebody being like oh my god I love that beyonce song the drums or just crazy all the time if you're talking to djs and you're talking tio producers and djs like drums or what we're focused on like that that piece of it right most people like love this song because it's a beautiful song and like it's written in a certain way and they liked the lyrics that's speaks to them turn down for what speaks to me you know like um and so it's either the vocals the melody usually is what people are focused on and if somebody's folks on the drums neither our drummer or should be a drummer deejay our producer like that's where our focus is so in fact in a band who's the one that is always on time and everybody's following the drugs for that is the foundation that is the basis for everything is everybody's following the drummer um uh d calm will love this uh the singer is always all over the place like they don't follow a certain structure at all in fact it's the same if any of you have ever played in a band it's the singer who shows up late and leaves early it's the singer who starts late on the one and starts either before the one or after one and that's a part of that though that's what that is your voice is an instrument is supposed to do the drums though follow a very specific pattern that's why we're going to focus on the drum cool so we'll get back to this first the one always a kick drum okay the second one to the same sound or different sound different sound sharper sound anybody know what kind of drum that isthe snare kick snare okay too is a snare even with music that is four to the floor mean there's a kick on every beat the snare is still on the two biggest snares on the two that's where the snare belongs on the two um so let's go back to this one one one two three that's the three what does that sound like sound familiar back to the kick cool and guess what the fourth is like this there so this is your basic drum pattern kicks in their kicks their cakes and kicks they're obviously like there's other things hats high hats you know things like that that gets added in tom's and whatnot but like your basic pattern is going to kick snare kicks there in fact this is what's so funny try and I'm gonna play this beat I want you to clap to this pete just stop where the crowd how you would naturally cop to this so like one two three four one two three four clap is on the two in the four just the same way the scenarios it's, following the natural pattern like this is all ingrained in us already. In fact, if you were to make a beat using your body it probably the one, two, three, four one, two, three for this how we all learned music even were real little right so the kick is on the one and the three and the snares on the two and the four one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four always be this way all the way to here I want you to listen okay? On this soul actually not really happened until well here. Well, have you listen. Here you go. One, two, three, four, two, two, three, four, three, two, three, four, four, two, three, four new phrase. One, two, three, four, two, two, three, four, three, two, three, four for you here, do some of the shooting. You heard something that happened right here, right? There's some change there's some signal. So let us know that the section is changing new section here comes the verse here comes the course that change right here is what happens between sex shins when you gettinto if any of you have ever produced music it's the same sort of thing when you're creating sections it's a way of like breaking up the song so that the song is not just one loop of the same thing, so it it sounds the same all the way through you want to break that up now you're not gonna break it up on every phrase because I wouldn't do this forward zoom in how many phrases aren't eight bars four bars equal one phrase so how many phrases aren't too right so here's the one here's another one right in the verse there's sixteen so be here's the one here's another one here's another one here's another one and here's the one right so these are all our phrases you won't hear that change that whatever that change is going to be every phrase because now it starts to sound monotonous again like and here's the course and here's the course again and here's the verse and here's some more verse and here's more so instead the change is right before the section changes so and here's the course and there's a new phrase and here's the verse and there's a new phrase and there's a new phrase and there's a new phrase and here's the course these section changes this natural thing that is already built into the record is what we're going to use to change the record to change the song that way it plays nicely into the natural way of how the songs were structure does that make sense any questions so far that's a lot to digest like that's a lot that's happening like when I started thinking about it in this way it completely like blew my mind because I was kind of just mixing out of songs where I felt it was natural to mix out of the song and in some ways like that's right? Also because I naturally know this record I'm a fan of this record I know that here's the course this is the high point of the record and then I should be into the next one. The problem though is if I'm not mix if I'm actually mixing mean meaning layering things under the track that I need to know ahead of time and how long that is going to be so let's look at this really quick so this would be how we're getting out thean intro we're looking for is instrumental the reason why is this if I were to layer this in let's say I found a track that was gonna layer in and it was eight bars of intro and eight bars of instrumental look at how perfect this is guys it's like legos men like I've it's like tetris I've got eight bar of course I've got a par instrumental intro if I start the intro when the core starts if I've done my work and I've got everything beat matched the play nicely together for eight bars and then when the course is done so is the intro and now I'm into the new song so this is a way of also building the energy when we talk about like you're keeping a dance from keeping them going you're going from essentially course toe let's say this song starts with the course you're basically going from best point in a song tto best point of the song the best point of song the best point of the song and like that's what like creates this energy when you're building a dance floor does that make sense cool? Um now not all songs have instrumental interest so that then becomes the real challenge is like what is the intro? How long do we have of instrumental on debt has to be a clean and smell because you said it earlier vocals over vocals don't work free this's interesting so like let's make sure let's make sure that is ludes mike is up really quick but I want you to and I think it is for the audience but I want you tell everybody and don't stop just tell everybody what you did yesterday yesterday so I woke up you know got ready for work so I was keep going you know I was out and I saw the raft on the street you think they were lying to me and drafts were flying and they see how difficult it is to listen to two things at once two two vocals at once so um and the way that we're conditioned is that one person speaks the other person listens then the other person speaks that's the way that it should go so it would be the same when we're trying to mix music you can't have beyonce singing over michael jackson that's not like it will clash in that way now there are always exceptions to the rule so like if you had an intro that were just like uh okay uh and it like filled in sort of a gap for where things were sure maybe something like that could work but that's totally your discretion that's up to you to figure that out er, s o I need to figure out how long is the intro and then how long are my sections that I can mix out on? And I need to figure out all this information before even start here my what I have seen, you know, with scratch deejay can we've taught over five hundred thousand people how to deejay over the last twelve years um it's quite a lot of people um over the course of time what I found is an instructor is that for a student to get this part down first and then get the mechanics down is way more efficient because you've already figured out that in theory these two songs should work thes two songs should sound that we should go together structurally so now when you then go to do it you're not not just experimenting you're actually like trying things out like that you figured out like dew makes it's like oh they're the same bpm there within the same range there's an inn here there's an out here all right, now let me try now if it doesn't sound good after that that it didn't work but that's okay you still have all this information and now guess what? You can apply that like this stays with the record right? Like the bpm is the bpm of the record it's not the bpm of the record when you mix it with bea it's the bpm of the record of what it is that I'll always be that that's the natural bpm of the record same thing with like the intro the intro will be eight bars whether you mix it with this song when you mix it with that song with you makes it doesn't matter that's always going to be tied to that song it's the structure of its its dna so it then allows for a lot more on the fly trial and error no because now if you know all this information now you even in a live set should know like even if you haven't tried a and to be you now know that a has an ape r r a has a h bar course, and b has an eight bar intro and that this is ninety two, and this is ninety five, so technically they should work. So as I'm queuing up and I'm playing this, and if for some reason there's, an alarm that goes off that like, hey, these don't sound good together, then cool. Then I'll find something else, but this allows for me to then, like, what else has an ape are in show? Oh, let me let me try this song. This song has a four bar intro. I'll just now have to adjust how this comes in. Cool.

Class Description

Learn how to DJ with DJ Hapa of Scratch DJ Academy. This class will set you up with everything you need to know to get your start as a DJ.

DJing is more than counting beats and waving your hands in the air, it is about skillfully bringing together songs to create an experience. In DJ Fundamentals you’ll learn about the theory behind music and the basics of manual beatmatching and scratching. Hapa will introduce you to the gear essential to a DJ set including hardware, software and the functions and features to look for. You’ll learn about breaking down music and analyzing arrangement – skills you can use for DJing and producing remixes or original work.

If you are brand new to DJing or you’ve been at it for a while, this course will give you a solid foundation you can build on no matter which genre or style you prefer.

Class Materials

bonus material with enrollment

DJ Hapa - Syllabus.pdf

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Arik Cohen

I’ve always wanted to be a DJ and dabbled with gear and software since I was a kid. But as a result I never got really good at it. So I finally decided to give the subject it’s proper respect and study it. Boy am I glad I did. This guy is a terrific instructor. Just enough theory to give you a solid foundation, just enough practice to get you to work on your skills. I’m half way through the material and I’m loving every minute of it. I learned in one video more than I had learned my entire life watching random YouTube videos and talking to others. I would definitely recommend it to any DJ, new or experienced that want to get their fundamentals down cold.


It's great to learn from a master such as DJ Hapa, the course content is the perfect blend of comprehensive content and practical demonstrations. I've learnt a wealth of valuable information! Thank you Creativelive and DJ Hapa for an excellent course

N Ho

Great intro to DJ-ing, covering gear, building blocks of music, beat matching, and lots of little stories about his experience. Also touches on what to think about depending on what kind of DJ you want to be and how that might change the type of gear you're after. As a classically trained musician, I also find his notation for phrases, beats, etc a lot more simple and intuitive than traditional theory. Thanks, great course.