Some DJs don’t like having a set prepared in advance They prefer to “improvise” in real-time, even if this improvisation is only partial (they know all the same that their tracks go well with such others for example
The advantage of this approach is that you have a lot of flexibility to be able to adjust your performance according to the reactions of the audience, or even the time at which you go to the decks.
Other DJs, of which I am part, prefer to have a set already well worked and fine-tuned before mixing.
It can go as far as mixing “to the measure ready”, that is to say knowing exactly when in title 1 title 2 must enter, and for how long before title 1 is released completely.
The advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to think and “improvise” when you’re in public, and your set rendering is potentially very fine, subtle, precise, and clean!
In any case, if you have a set prepared in advance, you have THE CHOICE to play it or to give free rein to your feeling and “improvisation” during your performance …
In an Excel grid, you can write down the info of your tracks, move/rearrange/reorder them as you wish, and easily format everything.
The principle to follow is to write ONLY the essential information, that is to say useful while you mix.
For example, you can order your songs and specify in columns:
> Their name.
> Their tempo and key (optional, even if you mix harmonically because you already know the previous and next tracks 😉).
> Their entry timing (ie at what point in the previous title do you have to enter this title into the mix).
> Their release timing (i.e. when you have to take this title out of the mix).
> Their energy level (a little / moderately / very angry, for example).
Always aim for SIMPLICITY: make a clean, minimalist document, easy to use and to consult when you are in the dark (write in black on white, roughly…).
Start by creating a fairly rudimentary document and test it as soon as possible.
Then, you can improve it to see what works, what doesn’t, useful info to add, and unnecessary info to remove to simplify 😉
If you have several sets, you can dedicate a tab in your Excel file for each one.
When it’s ready: print this playlist on paper so you can use it whatever your mixing gear (with or without a computer): vinyl turntables, CDs, or DJ software.
By creating a set all prepared in advance, one might be tempted to think that it will not be possible, or in any case very difficult, to surprise your audience …
Because we are not in front of him in real-time, and therefore we cannot adapt at the moment, so as to release THE right track when it is necessary for example …
There are parries, “hacks” to still BLUFF your audience, and why not, repeatedly throughout your set.
The key to getting there is ANTICIPATION!
That is to say that when you design your set, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the dancers who would “follow” you, in order to better capture their attention, and to “guide” them in a way 🙂
You have a lot of possibilities to surprise them:
> switch from one musical style to another very different, in a fluid and transparent way.
> Take a “leap” in tempo, without it being heard at all.
> Apply a well-placed harmonic “modulation”, for example by switching from one melody to another.
You can discover such advanced tips and techniques in The Dojo training (especially with “The Checklist for a Killer Set” in Level 9 ).
You can plan, anticipate a striking surprise for your audience two-thirds of your set, in order to revive the interest of the dancers 🙂
You can even do it in a more moderate but more frequent way, for example, every 15 minutes, by playing the remix of a well-known hit …
The possibilities are endless!