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Beatmatching Lesson 3: The Game of Catch-Up

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.

Next up: Beatmatching Lesson 4: At Last, Beatmatching

About the Author JM

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.

  • elution says:

    I’ve been djing for a year house and dance music but I still fail to beat mix reggae and dance hall any tips please help me guys I want to be an all genre dj help me with tha Idea of mixing reggae and dance hall

    • JM says:

      Hi elution, my guess is that there’s a live drummer on those records and that’s why they are so hard to beatmach. Tracks with a live drummer are a real pain because of the ever so slightly variations in tempo. Not to say this can’t be done, but you really need to be a beatmatching ace to beatmix a live drummer track.

    • Mark seale says:

      Bro to beatmatch dancehall you have to make sure the tracks beat grids are correct.I’ve noticed that dancehall tracks downloaded from the net tend to be incorrect

    • Mark seale says:

      I put a comment in this box but not sure if went through.if you downloaded dancehall from net most of your tunes may be incomplete and and your beat grids out.reset them and you should be fine

  • Makhosonke says:

    I’ve trying the game of catch up its a bit difficult for I don’t know maybe its the Cdj’s that I’m using its a Nurmark NDX200

  • Ed says:

    Are we still using the same tracks on each turntable or different ones

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