Talk to any respected disk jockey with years of experience and ask them if they know how to beatmatch. I can guarantee you that 100% of them will say yes, and will be able to do so very efficiently. Knowing how to beatmatch is one of the most important core skills of every DJ.
Beatmatching is the act of matching the tempos of two separate tracks so that the beats are hitting in a syncronized fashion. This then allows the two tracks to be played together in unison and create the illusion of playing only one track. This is the fundamental idea behind mixing. Read on for more detailed information on the fundamental ideas behind beatmatching.
If you already know this information and want to learn to beatmatch then check out our beatmatching guide.
When speaking about electronic dance music generes like house, techno or dubstep, you can make assumptions that the tracks falling within the genre are of a similar tempo or speed. This means that the Beats Per Minute (BPM) of the tracks are all somewhat similar. For instance the average BPM of a house tune usually falls between 125-135 beats per minute while a dubstep track might fall around 140.
Mixing music from similar genres will make it possible for a DJ to beatmatch, or precisely match the BPM’s of two tracks.
You will find a pitch slider on DJ equipment like turntables or CDJ’s and likely a nice MIDI controller will feature a pitch adjustment slider as well. The pitch slider will allow you to adjust the rate at which a song is playing.
The easiest way to understand this is by imagining a turntable spinning with a record playing. As you move the pitch slider up and down, two things happen:
- Move the pitch slider down and the turntable platter will spin faster. This will cause the BPM to climb upwards and the pitch of the song will increase (sound whiny, and high pitched).
- Move the pitch slider up and the turntable platter will spin slower. This will cause the BPM to drop down and the pitch of the song will decrease (sound slower, and low pitched).
These same concepts are applied to digital equipment. New hardware and software allows you to do things like increase the range at which the tempo is changed by the pitch slider or change the tempo independently of the pitch (ie the sound doesn’t increase or decrease in tone, only in pace).
Technology & Beatmatching
As the technology has improved across the DJ gear landscape many features have been created which make beatmatching easier. Things like live BPM counters, waveform display, and even BPM syncing have changed the way modern DJ’s beatmatch.
There are positives and negatives to these features. It is easy to become dependent on a BPM counter or BPM sync, but this is not the end all answer. These tools should be used as guides to get you in the ballpark and then you should use your ear to make the match perfect.
Now that you know what beatmatching is and the ideas behind it, head on over to our guide on how to beatmatch.