Our DJ tutor Ben Bristow has years of experience in teaching people how to do everything on two turntables and a mixer, from simply beatmatching two tracks together through to using FX controllers, acapellas and advanced scratching techniques – he’s got a lot of knowledge to share and has been responsible for several brilliant videos on our YouTube channel, two of which we have re-edited to feature some of the more crucial nuggets of information.
Check out the videos below, one of which focuses on using FX and the other, which looks at scratching. Enjoy!
Now, for those of you who haven’t practiced that there is a little trick you can use incorporating the loop function on the CD deck, and the effect on the mixer which is “Trans”, so that’s short for transform or transformer, because it’s such a commonly used kind of term in DJ terms that you will often find a trans effect on a mixer. In some it might be called gate, so it basically chops the sound in and out like I was just doing here with the fader.
This is a kind of James Zabiela trick, where you can basically loop the sample. Put an effect over it so that it cuts in and out and then it basically means you can move the platter around and it will do half the work the cross-fader is doing for you. So if I play a beat first, what I’m going to do is set a loop around that, “Ahh”, sound, so there’s no gap, it’s just going, “Ahh-ahh” like that. I’m just going to change the speed slightly so that it kind of loops, in time with the beat. So every beat is basically just one loop.
Now I’m going to tap in time with the mixer. Put it on the trans effect, and assign it to the channel the scratching sound is on. Now if I put it on like a quarter value, and activate it, you can hear it’s cutting the sound in and out quickly. So now it means you can just move the platter. Because you’re kind of changing the speed you do it at, and you move it at so it kind of sounds like you’re scratching, because scratching is about cutting your sound in and out and creating different pitches. And obviously because the sound is looping it’s not going to run out. So you can literally fling the platter around and it will still…
Now for added believability, if you’re trying to fool your friends or the promoters out there. What you could do is make sure the fader is no longer assigned to that sound. So the fader doesn’t work anymore. So I can just basically pretend that I’m using that. And obviously it looks like you’re actually creating that effect. I wouldn’t advise just doing that, obviously it’s going to sound better if you can really scratch, but it’s a nice little kind of treat. You can even go to the next level, if you went to an eighth note, then it’s going to sound like Q-Bert, or something which is ridiculously fast chops of the sound.
So just to conclude or kind of recap on that, it’s just literally loop a sample, then play it over a beat, and tap the tempo of that beat into the mixer. So that means the song is going to be cut up at a speed that relates to the actual bpm of the track you’re doing over. And then you’re assigning a trans effect over the scratch sound, activating it and then literally just, moving the sample around basically.
The other thing I was going to show you is a little trick using a snippet of an a cappella to create kind of build ups and like just textures over a tune, more so with minimal and that sort of thing. It’s kind of using an echo in the pitch range. So what I’m going to do is get an a cappella here. So I’ve got this Dizzee Rascal a cappella. Obviously that sort of thing, you’ve got an a cappella is a good thing to scratch with, because it’s the start of it is just a gap, then a long sound. So you can borrow and use a bit of a cappella or a tune that you’ve got without beats over it.
So what I’m going to do is, I’ve got this Dizzee Rascal a cappella, I’ve set a cue point. Now I’m going to take the master tempo off so. For those of you who don’t know. Master tempo is like key lock, that means if that’s on the pitch of the vocal would stay at the original pitch, at like zero. With that off, the pitch will change in the same way a turntable techniques would change the speed as well as the pitch. And if I go to the wide setting that means now I’ve got 200% speed range, and pitch range. It means I can basically create a massive load of different notes using that vocal. So if I play a beat, and I tap the tempo again, just in case it got lost through one of the other techniques.
Now if I assign an echo to that deck, so channel two, put it at like three over four. Now what I can do is if I just tap it obviously for a split second if I tap the cue button. It just echos out, but what we can do is kind of use the pitch with one hand and the cue button with your other hand. You get these weird kind of textures at different pitches obviously with echo, quite different build ups. So if you’ve got a tune building up, and you start with the slider down at the bottom end so it’s really low pitch, and then just maybe like spin it four bars increasing the speed. Creating some really cool buildups. If you start at the other end so it starts high pitch and go down obviously it’s like you can use that to go into a breakdown like [??], never be able to tell that was Dizzee Rascal so you can use literally any kind of snippet of a sound to create that layer. So that’s a cool little trick.
On this kind of cheating fake scratching kind of theme. Another thing you could do which is known as the cue-scratch on a CDJ. You wouldn’t be able to do this has kind of come from a scratch technique that you used to be able to do on vinyl. Basically, one scratch technique is known as the forward cut, which is where you’re kind of playing the sound forward, then shutting out the rewind part. Then there’s another one called a stab where you push the sound forward and open the fader. You kind of get a more high-pitched version of that. So you can alternate between the forward cut, and the stab to kind of get… Obviously that takes a bit of practice, because you’ve got to get the tension right with the fader, and you’re alternating and you’re always pulling back with the fader shut.
So if you wanted emulate that with the CD deck. The beauty of the cue function is that it silently returns to the cue point. So a forward cut that I was just doing there would be able to be achieved by just literally going… Because every time I take my finger off the cut button it snaps back to that cue point. Where as a stab, if you push on the platter, like that, again it silently returns to the cue point. So it sounds exactly like that, right. So if you get your left hand on the cue button, your right hand on the platter. You can alternate like that, so you can kind of get quite a cool effect. Again, it sounds exactly the same, except it’s just you’re not having to use the cross-fader. Obviously as well, it’s cued up, you can do a bit of just baby scratching, so you’ve got about three different techniques with not even touching the mixer. Forward cut, stab, and baby scratch.
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So the online master class is a one hour session you get with your tutor every week. You can ask questions about lesson content. You get instant feedback and also demonstrations on the fly from their computer desktop with our streaming technology.
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