Unfortunately, in real life, the tempos of the tracks you’re trying to synchronize will most often be different. So even if you’ve started a record precisely on the beat with the one in the speakers, their beats will eventually start to grow apart because of the different tempos. That will make continuous corrections necessary.
In this lesson, we’ll be learning to handle just that.
Set the pitch of track A – the one that’s playing on the dancefloor – to about +0.5%. Now you know that the record heard on the floor is a little bit faster than the same record in your headphones (which is coming from deck B to your right, pitch set to 0.0%). Cue up track B as usual and start it on the beat with A. Ensure that the tracks’ beats are in sync as you learned in beatmatching lesson 2.
In a few seconds, you’ll hear that the track in your headphones is lagging behind the one on the dancefloor. Fix this lag by giving B a tiny push, and then, after the lag returns, do it again… and again and again. Then start over and try once more. Your goal is to get used to keeping the tracks’ beats in sync when their BPM is different. The more you practice, the tighter you’ll be able to keep the tracks in alignment, even though their tempo is different.
Tip: Most dance tracks have fragments where the kick drum disappears (breakdowns, see the article on track structure). If you hit a breakdown, don’t worry. Try to feel the rhythm through other instruments like the hi-hats or elements of the track’s melody.
After you’ve practiced with the lagging, try the other way around. Move A’s pitch slider to about -0.5%. Now you’ll have to continuously slow B down in order to keep the beats aligned. And, of course, you’re bound to overcorrect from time to time. Then you can either wait for the tracks to get back in sync by themselves (due to the difference in tempos), or recollect that our goal is to keep the tracks tightly synchronized and speed up the temporarily lagging B right away.
Go ahead and experiment! Practice dealing with record B being faster than A and vice versa. Try various pitch positions, too. In addition to +/-0.5%, try +/-1.0%, +/-1.5% and so on. Take note of how fast the tracks are growing apart at each of those tempo differences. That will come useful later, when you’ll actually get to matching B’s tempo to A’s. But that’s a story for another lesson.
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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