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Beatmatching Basics Part 3: Beatmatch!

Beatmatch!

If you want to gain the most our of this article, make sure you read Part 1 and Part 2 first as they will help you understand the theory behind tempo, as well as counting and identifying beats, bars and phrases, which are required pieces of knowledge if you want to learn how to beatmatch effectively!

You may or may not have heard of this magic word before, beatmatching (in case you’re wondering, I checked Wikipedia and beatmatching is in fact one word, not two). Beatmatching is exactly what it sounds like, it is the art form of matching the beats of two separate tracks so that they occur at the exact same time. When this happens it masks the fact that there are two separate tracks playing at the same time due to the fact that the beats of each track (which is where the loud thumps, aka kick drums usually occur) are playing at the same time and occupying the same space in the speaker cones. Most music contain kick drums (the loud thumpy drum) whenever a beat occurs, so the trick to beatmatching, especially as a beginner, it to listen out for that thump on both tracks and try to match it so that it is occurring at the same time on both tracks.

In order for this to be done, first you must match the tempo (BPM) of the tracks. If you don’t do this then one track will be moving faster than the other and the beats of the two tracks will never be able to sync up. Imagine this scenario… Your goal is to have two cars driving side by side consistently. In order for this to be done, they must be driving at the exact same speed. If one car is driving even one mile faster than the other, eventually it will overtake and they won’t be side by side anymore. The same rule apply to beatmatching, if one track has a higher BPM than the other (even by a tiny amount), eventually the beats will go out of sync and people will start discerning two individual tracks and the resulting sound will be what we DJs call a “train wreck” (or shoes in the tumble drier).

After you have picked two similar tracks and matched their tempos (BPM values), the next step is to figure out when the best time to mix the new track is. The first rule of thumb would be to follow the phrases. As described earlier on, you can identify a new phrase by counting  8 bars from the moment a new instrument or sound is introduced in the track, or when the track changes part (e.g. chorus to verse). Therefore if you bring up the volume of a new track at the same time as when a new phrase begins, it will sound more natural because people will already be expecting something new to occur because of the new phrase. Furthermore, it’s even better if you have the phrases of the two tracks matched up. As mentioned above, almost always, a phrase lasts 8 bars, then a new phrase begins. If you follow this formula and press play on the second track at the same time as when a new phrase begins on the currently playing one, it will ensure that the phrases of the two tracks are aligned (most of the time).

Breaking it down into steps

  1. Load two tracks that are of similar style/genre and BPM. House music or Tech House music is great for beginners as it is common place for there to be long intros of drums, helping you identify the beats, bars and phrases easily.
  2. Use the pitch fader to adjust the BPM of each track so that they are identical.
  3. Press play on one of the tracks.
  4. Press play on the second track at the beginning of a new phrase on the currently playing track.
  5. Use the Jog wheel to temporarily adjust the speed at which the new track your bringing in is playing so as to beatmatch them.
  6. After you’re done beatmatching, as soon as a new phrase begins turn the volume up on the new track.
  7. As soon as another phrase begins turn the volume of the old track down.
  8. Practice this a few times – you need to practice in order to get better at mixing in phrase as DJs say

To improve on this even more, you can start mixing when complete parts of the track finish. For example, wait for the drop of the track to finish, and then bring up the second track. Alternatively, as soon as the drop of one track finishes, bring up the second track. Additionally, if you can time them correctly so that the end of the first tracks’ drop occurs at the same time as the beginning of the second tracks’ verse, it will sound like a natural transition within one track, simply one drop ending and another verse begins. If you follow the phrases of the tracks accurately, this should be fairly easy to do. All you have to do is work out how may phrases (8 bar sections) the drop is, and how many phrases the intro of the upcoming track is. 

Finally, move that jog wheel!

Fig 1: Job Wheel (tip: adjust it by only touching the sides, otherwise it may not work if the deck is se to Vinyl mode!)

Jog Wheel

Jog wheels can be moved anti clockwise or clockwise. When you move it clockwise, you are temporarily speeding up the track loaded onto that deck. This is done order to sync up the beats of the two tracks you are trying to beatmatch. Going back to our car scenario. If the two cars are driving at the exactly same speed but one of the cars is slightly ahead of the other, the car behind will have to temporarily speed up in order to catch up with the car ahead. Well, when you want to sync up the beats of two separate tracks so that the audience discern them as one, even if you have matched the BPM of the tracks to be exactly the same, unless you contain the power of extraordinary accurate timing, it is unlikely that the beats of the two tracks will be occurring at the exact same time. They may be playing at the same speed, but one of the tracks may be slightly ahead of the other. Visually, it will look like this (see fig 2).

Fig 2: Notice how both tracks are set to the same tempo (123 bpm), however their beats are not lined up correctly. You can tell this by looking at the grid lines of each track.unbeatmatched

If you were in this situation, you would have to adjust the jog wheel of the upcoming track so as to temporarily speed up or slow down the track in order to sync up the beats of the two tracks.

So, one more time, best way to practice beatmatching…

Breaking it down into steps

  1. Load two tracks that are of similar style/genre and BPM. House music or Tech House music is great for beginners as it is common place for there to be long intros of drums, helping you identify the beats, bars and phrases easily.
  2. Use the pitch fader to adjust the BPM of each track so that they are identical.
  3. Press play on one of the tracks.
  4. Press play on the second track at the beginning of a new phrase on the currently playing track.
  5. Use the Jog wheel to temporarily adjust the speed at which the new track your bringing in is playing so as to beatmatch them.
  6. After you’re done beatmatching, as soon as a new phrase begins turn the volume up on the new track.
  7. As soon as another phrase begins turn the volume of the old track down.
  8. Practice this a few times – you need to practice in order to get better at mixing in phrase as DJs say

That concludes part 3 of our Beatmatching Basics guide! Now you should be armed with enough knowledge to go and practice beatmatching!

Part 2: Understanding Beats, Bars & Phrases

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A Soundflow Music Academy publication,
Written by Nikos Argalias

 

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