I'll be the first to admit it: when I was DJing regularly, I usually used a computer -- along with an effects box -- for mixing my jam selections. But that was purely out of necessity: buying records was far too costly, most of what I wanted to play wasn't readily available on vinyl, and the start-up capital needed for a Serato-
and-turntable setup to practice with at home just wasn't in the cards. I am a believer in the 'it's not how you do it, but what you do' philosophy, but there is most certainly an art to being a DJ -- it takes talent, taste, and tenacity. With certain advances in technology, however, it seems that whatever practice and knowledge was once integral to being a decent DJ will soon be obsolete. Now, literally, anyone
can be a DJ.
This notion was prompted by an article I came across on DigitalDJTips.com about a new tool meant to help DJs figure out playlists called Mixed in Key. Along with maintaining tempo, mixing tracks that share the same musical key -- unless you're matching only beats -- is the difference between a smooth transition and what is lovingly called a "train wreck." Part of orchestrating a great playlist is making sure that the songs you are putting together fit like puzzle pieces in the musical story you're telling. But Mixed in Key will explain to you what keys are in each song, and which will work together, without any discovery of your own. If you couple that with the already predominant tempo-configuring and time-warping capabilities found on most modern DJ programs, the people standing behind a mixing board with headphones on their head and a drink in their hand won't have a lot to do other than stand around like some clubbing figurehead.
The days of mixing vinyl are long gone (even most folks that spin vinyl "train wreck" more than half the time), using Serato to DJ has become the norm, and soon our men and women on the decks will be nothing more than the equivalent of a glorified iTunes Genius playlist maker. But considering the jokers in the running for "America's Best DJ,"
maybe the medium is no longer much of a respectable place for music connoisseurs anyway.Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown and @PatricFallon