By now, you know a lot of ways to bring two tracks’ beats back in sync if they've started drifting apart. You can give a record a slight push, brush the platter to slow it down for a moment, or twirl the deck’s spindle. The problem with these methods is that the effect they produce varies depending on the turntable’s torque, the amount of friction between the platter and the slipmat and even the amount of the natural grease on your hands.
I’ve talked about the caveats of pitch bending on CD decks, too. A push of the jog wheel that gives the track just enough acceleration on one player model may hardly do anything on another or, to the contrary, lead to overcorrection.
The pros, including myself, touch the record or the jog wheel only to cue up a track and start it playing. The method we use for keeping the beats in sync doesn’t require any record manhandling or messing with the Pitch bend buttons and the jog wheel. Moreover, this method makes beatmatching quicker, more precise and more versatile. The secret is in using the only control common to all professional decks to keep the tracks synchronized – the pitch.
Go back to the 2nd lesson on beatmatching where you were working with two copies of the same track at 0% pitch position. Suppose that after you’ve cued up the track and started it, its beats are lagging behind the one in the speakers, so the record needs to be given a push. Instead of actually pushing the record or the CD deck’s jog wheel, pitch the track up a couple of percentage points. The track’s tempo will increase and its beats will catch up with the dancefloor naturally. Once that happens, move the pitch back to zero. If the track’s beats are coming ahead of the dancefloor’s tune, pitch it down first instead.
Note that the further you move the pitch slider, the quicker the beats are brought back in sync. However, it also becomes more difficult to catch the right moment when you need to return the pitch to its original position.
After you get comfortable with using the pitch control to fix any starting errors, try this new method for keeping the beats in sync during the actual beatmatching process. This is where the ability to visually track the pitch slider’s position really comes handy, but the beatmatching itself will be much, much quicker.
Why? Here’s an example: After you’ve started a track on the beat with the dancefloor, you notice that it starts lagging behind. By moving the pitch slider up, you accomplish two goals: speeding up the track so it catches up with the other tune while at the same time finding the upper boundary of the pitch range that contains the correct pitch position. (The original position of the pitch slider, where the track was too slow, is the lower boundary.) After the track’s beats catch up, you move the pitch to the middle of that range and see what happens there.
The bottom line is this. When you use the pitch slider to keep the tracks’ beats in sync, you end up getting a much better feeling about the tracks’ tempo difference than when you brush the jog wheel (or the platter) and then adjust the tune’s pitch. As a result, your beatmatching becomes much quicker and more precise.
To learn pitch riding, go through beatmatching lessons 2, 4 and 5 all over again. Whenever a track’s beats start to get out of sync with those of the other tune, make sure to only be using the pitch control to fix that. That won’t be easy at first, but with practice, your beatmatching skills will get to a totally new level!
JM has played open-air gigs, shared the stage with the likes of ATB and had mix albums released commercially. He has been teaching DJing since 2008.
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