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A blog exploring and debating the world of DJing, written for DJs and music fans.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Syncing Your Way to Success

Ever since the invention of the sync button, a debate has raged. Is it cheating? Or is it a valid tool of the modern DJ?

Let me break it down to you for those less knowledgeable about the world of DJing.

Fundamentally, DJing is taking one track, and blending it with another, also known as 'mixing'.

The majority of the time, for a track to be mixed well with another, the beats of both songs need to be in time.

Modern technology has enabled most DJing decks to have a 'sync' button, which does just that, syncs the beats of the songs.

Before the invention of the 'sync' button, every DJ had to do what's known as 'beat matching'. This is where they would sync the beats of the two songs by ear.

Beat matching is a hard skill to learn and an even harder skill to master, but when you do, it's very impressive.

So of course, a debate has raged for many years on whether using the sync button is cheating.

There's many sides to this argument. First of all, advances in technology has made DJs mixes better, not worse. The introduction of effects processors, wave-length displays, BPM counters and much more has helped DJs make their mixes more impressive and more enjoyable. The sync button is part of this.

Even if you are a master at beat matching, it takes time, especially when you're doing it in a noisy club, or on an even nosier stage, fuelled with adrenaline from the crowd.

The sync button therefore made mixes that would have been previously impossible, for example if you wanted to drop a track quickly, you may need to use the sync button as you simply don't have time to beat match.

A similar argument to this is the question of whether a DJ is an entertainer, or a performer.

If a rock band played on stage, and you knew that they couldn't actually play their instruments, the majority of people would dislike the band because of it. They'd be posers.

But the question is whether the same rule applies to the DJ; should the DJ be required to have masterful beat matching skills, or is it enough that the mix sounded good?

On the other end of the scale however, is that it is unfair to DJs who have spent countless hours perfecting their beat matching skills to go on stage and be outmatched by another DJ who was using the sync button. For this reason I can understand why people are so passionate about this debate.

There is no clear cut answer to this question. While technology has improved DJ mixes, to what extent should we let it do the work? Will it ever go so far that DJs play more of a passive role as a computer calculates what the crowd wants to hear?

Whatever you think of the sync button, it's here to stay. And there is likely to be more features like it, which will cause yet more debate.

For me, I think it's down to your integrity as a DJ. Choose a side of the debate, and stick to it, and if you use the sync button, prepare to defend it's use. I think a good DJ is one that beat matches the songs they play, and uses the sync button when it is impossible to create the mix otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Back in my day...blah blah blah.

    I can beatmatch, but I use sync
    Because its easier and it gives me
    More time to drink alcohol and have