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Controllerism basics: Cue Point Juggling

By now a few of you may have seen my performance at the Vestax Extravaganza in Tokyo. Several people on stage all said the same thing: “Man, none of us could figure out what the hell you are doing in your videos, we thought we could figure it out by being here- now we really have no idea!” Although I certainly did step up the level of performance for that gig the core principles are very simple and have not changed in several years. Everything in the Japan video is just different ways of “cue point juggling” or jumping between different points in a song instantly. There are 2 different kinds of cue point juggling: direct play and sample play.

DIRECT PLAY

Here you can assume the song is already playing and you want it to instantly play from another position in the song. The most basic use of this handy feature is to always place the initial cue point on the first down-beat of every song. Now while mixing, you never have to worry about finding the beginning again- you can just directly jump to the first cue and you know the song will always re-start on time. Just this single cue point offers a lot of creative opportunities to re-play any song and jazz up your mix transitions. To take it to the next level we need to add more cue points.

KICK, SNARE, HAT

If your first cue is on the down beat which is almost always a kick, then might I suggest the 2nd should always be on the the next beat which is usually a snare sound? Now with just 2 cues you can do some simple kick, snare fill combos- drum along with another song or completely replay the beat. You can make the third cue a hat, cymbal or some sound with a little space behind it to break up the beat and keep it interesting. Next, the 4th cue is always placed on a fill cue that leads into the beginning of the next bar. Then for the final cherry on top I like to always make my 5th cue on the down beat of the first major section of a song.

Why 5 cues? besides being just enough for any song, they work nicely with the way I play the VCI-100. The 4 cues are always assigned to the 4 buttons under the jog wheels. Then the 5 cue, which is great for juggling doubles is triggered by the large and playable jog wheels. in this layout its quite easy to drum with the buttons and then juggle with the wheels and the crossfader.

LAYING DOWN THE CUES

laying down your cues in a consistent pattern that fits the way you like to dj will allow you to pull off crazy routines on the fly without thinking about them in advance. The cues dont have to always be on the exact same sounds but rather parts of the song that could be used as a kick, snare, hat sounds. Even dropping cues on specific words can create very cool rhythmic tones that play wonderfully over other beats.

Here is what that might look like on a reggae tune. The yellow line is the first cue, the kick, the white line is the 2nd (the snare) the third blue cue point is a hi-hat and the fourth is the fill at the end of the phrase(off screen)

SAMPLE PLAY

The other way of playing with the same cue point layout is by temporarily triggering each cue point. Also called “sample and hold” this technique only plays each cue point as long as the trigger is held down. The advantage to this method is that a song can be played just like a sampler and played at any tempo, speed or rhythm. This is the preferred method if you are sampling one track over another for instance a hip hop acapella over an instrumental. Direct play is better if you are working with one deck or juggling so its easier to keep the rhythm on time.

REAL WORLD APPLICATION

So how do I use both methods in one performance and cue up new songs all from 4 buttons? Simple: you may remember that I added a pair of foot switches to my vc-100 about a month ago? Well, when none of the foot switches are pressed the 4 buttons act as normal dj transport controls including SYNC, CUE, PLAY etc.. Then depending on which foot switch is being held down, they become direct cue point triggers that engage Sample Play and Direct Play mode! You dont even have to install your own foot switches, you could simply buy an extra set of midi switches like these here and program those to do the same thing. Dont know how to program all this stuff? Not to worry: this layout, although slightly modified for the everyday user, will be available soon to everyone after NAMM. Check out this post for more info.

Where to set this up in Traktor?

jumpcue-list.jpg

  • Superflavasava

    how do i do this in Traktor pro 2? those controls are listed diferently.

  • Rasputin

    ohh yeah i for got to mention. it did detect my cdj 400’s connected on usb bout the ps3 arcade joystick did’nt

  • Rasputin

    hi ean i saw 1 of your video on youtube. it was about Diy midi controller. anyways i saw my nephwes ps3 arcade joystick and figured , hey this could work. and i review your video and downloaded MJOY. and installed it to may PC. after installing it would’nt detect the controller. did i miss something coz if i did. pls enlighten me. ( sorry im not use to this. im more use to cdj’s and serato. and saw your video i got really amazed. i was hoping you guys could give me step by step instruction so that i wont get confuse. im a sucker for techical terms hehehe thanx )

  • MehdiVancouver

    Would be cool to have a stickers with “School of DJ Ean” cuz all I learned about DJing is def’ from Ean. It;s the only way I wanna do music. sorry.

  • giovanni

    Hi Ean,

    i am a registered user of traktor3le that i received in bundle with my controller vestaxvc100. I wanted to upgrade the product downloading traktor3pro but when i tried to install it, a window appeared on my screen warning me that the product i purchased doesn't work with power pc;

    I have a traktor's 3 older version that works well on my mac, but I do not know how control it with vestax vc100:

    in that way?

    my system is:

    iBook G4

    PowerPC G4 (1.5)

    what can i do?

    please help-i am desperate.

    thanks

  • [quote comment=""]Thanks for all the info Ean.

    A question about cue-punt juggeling,

    I’m running Traktor Pro and the Jump Cue-List options for the hotkey mapping isnt available.

    How can i assign a button in Traktor Pro to control de cue-punts. I tried to find it in Midi mapping, but i culdnot find anything like jump cue list.

    Thanx and regards

    Exclusiva[/quote]

    Hi Exclusiva. Just setting this up myself at the mo and its slightly different on pro.

    On midi mapping page, Go to add – cue/loops – select hotcue. Then at the bottom on button options – set to value – hot cue one. Repeat for the next 7 cue points numbering accordingly.

    Hope that sorts it, and props to ean for sharing consistently useful info.

    Cheers

    Marc

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for all the info Ean.

    A question about cue-punt juggeling,

    I’m running Traktor Pro and the Jump Cue-List options for the hotkey mapping isnt available.

    How can i assign a button in Traktor Pro to control de cue-punts. I tried to find it in Midi mapping, but i culdnot find anything like jump cue list.

    Thanx and regards

    Exclusiva

  • refriend

    hi.. ive got the same question-i would like to use one of controls of m audio o2 instead of sustain pedal- BUT- what is the option in midi setup to change the behavior of 4 buttons under jogwheels with pressing the sustain or any other midi control?? thanks

  • roman

    I have no idea what TKS file you are using, so its hard to answer. As your question does not pertain to the oxygen 8 technique posted here I would ask that you re-post this question in the forum on a new thread.

    oo.Im using T33 VCI-100 TKS and change small black buttons to cuepoint list.sorry for my english.I don't understand how to play this cuepoints in sample (push and hold) mode.

    I don't know where isthat function in midi setup

  • roman

    I have no idea what TKS file you are using, so its hard to answer. As your question does not pertain to the oxygen 8 technique posted here I would ask that you re-post this question in the forum on a new thread.

    oo.Im using T33 VCI-100 TKS and change small black buttons to cuepoint list.sorry for my english.I don't understand how to play this cuepoints in sample (push and hold) mode.

  • I have no idea what TKS file you are using, so its hard to answer. As your question does not pertain to the oxygen 8 technique posted here I would ask that you re-post this question in the forum on a new thread.

  • roman

    Ean,I need your help!

    I have 4 cue points at 4 knobs at high left side of my vci-100.One thing I can,t do is turning on/off sample play mode/direct play mode.

    how to do this without foot switch?

    I have traktor 3.3.2 and vci-100

    where is that placed in midi setup?

  • Thanks for all the info Ean.

    I'm running traktor 3.0 and the Jump Cue-List options for the hotkey mapping isnt available. Most likely because I need to update but is it possible that I'm doing something wrong?

    Good stuff, nice blog.

    Its possible that feature may not have existed in 3.0 but I cant be sure. In the past other people have had trouble finding the assignment, so i would make extra certain you look carefully. in my opinion 3.2 is a much more stable product that 3.0 BTW.

  • VAM

    Thanks for all the info Ean.

    I'm running traktor 3.0 and the Jump Cue-List options for the hotkey mapping isnt available. Most likely because I need to update but is it possible that I'm doing something wrong?

    Good stuff, nice blog.

  • treedeez

    awesome! 🙂 I'll be waitin and watchin.

  • I have allredy created a really bad ass template for cue point juggling with the oxygen 8. We will be posting that soon!!!

  • treedeez

    I’m tryin to set this up with an Oxygen8 any suggestions?

  • djtechtools. fixing dj problems: one…… user………at ……..a …..time…….. 🙂 happy to help.

  • Dom

    yea it’s the cache, spot on. thanks a lot. makes a huge difference

  • Some people have complained about this and I have NEVER had that problem. I am 99% positive this is a problem with your CACHE settings. Traktor now allows your computer to load the entire song into cache allow for quicker starts and lower latencey. This can be changed in your prefs. where you have the option of setting how much of a song is cached. With 2 gigs of RAM set it to the highest possible and your problem should go away.

    good luck.

  • Dom

    i have a latency problem when cue point juggling on my macbook. it's running 2GB of ram so i doubt power is my problem. when i jump between cue points in traktor that are further apart from each other, there is a slight delay or a dropped sound, as the waveform is slow to catch up. is this a common problem without a fix or is there some option i can toggle to fix this? Any ideas on whats happening? thanks for your help, you're doing a great job Ean.

  • no problem, now ship those new glasses you just bought over to Al! Dont worry midi stuff gets easy with time. I have been working with it for many years.

  • Marx

    I found them, they were there all the time, i feel like kinda stupid 😀

    Thanks Ean!

  • Al Robinson

    yeh its weird they are just not there….one of lifes mysterys

  • Ok, I posted a picture at the bottom of this post showing exactly which functions you want to control. If they are not there then you have an evil version of Traktor that does not like controllerists. 🙂

  • Marx

    yep, same problem with me

  • Al Robinson

    its so weird i go deck/cue points/ and then its not there its got like cue point set, cue point next cue point previous and a whole bunch of others but no jump to???

  • no problem, in midi setup ADD thats under- deck/cue points/ jump to cue #1. Dont worry things can be impossible to find in Traktor midi.

  • Al Robinson

    sorry i might be a complete moron in not explaining properly but iv upgraded to 3.2 and i cant find where in the midi assign steps to assign hotcues….

  • I dont remember if that function was around in 2.6- I think so and the commands should be the same if they are there. 3.2 is just as stable as 2.6 was, you may want to consider an upgrade 🙂

  • Al Robinson

    sorry…to specify its traktor 3…i did know how to do it in 2.6

  • Al Robinson

    I am struggling to find where in the assignment options i can assign specific cue points to a specific hotkey/midi input. Any ideas, thanks

  • Julio

    Ean:

    Just bought the DigiTech one… sitting here waiting for your firmware and templates! 😉

  • Yamaha djx-IIb scratch groove box is a toy?

    or really works as a dj instrument?

  • Save to My Lists

    YAMAHA DJX-IIB SCRATCH / GROOVE BOX

  • can some one tell me what it this?

    be cause I wana buy it.

  • dbworms

    <blockquote cite="#comment-296">I've installed the tks file so that my VCI-100 can work with Traktor 3.3, but now the music wont play out of the Macbook's speakers, or out of it's headphone jack. Yet before I installed the tks file, it would play music perfectly. Is there anyway for me to fix this? I've tried posting about it on NI's forums, but I've been met with no luck. Please help!

    Hey there, the fix actually is extremely simple. Remember when you first boot up tracktor, the software adjusts to the hardware buttons instantly after you start using them? Its the same thing here. If you look at the top right side, there are three black knobs; master level, monitor level, monitor select. Mess with these for a sec and your macbook should start singing. Good luck!

  • Frank

    perhaps I should make a video on how to do that. There are just a few principles that you need to know and then its just cue points and triggers!

    I've really enjoyed that demo, please make a video on how to do that. Also update the pic here, because it's displaying the pic of another post (the one on fixing the Jogwheels) By the way, that?s a nice and useful post!

    The videos you have posted on youtube on the things you can do with the VCI-100 are awesome, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  • <blockquote cite="#comment-315">where do you get your one to few word samples from the controllerism vid on youtube was cool with work it but i tried that wwith other songs just using the cue pts and it didnt sound quite right. are you doing anything diffferent besides the arcade triggers?

    perhaps I should make a video on how to do that. There are just a few principles that you need to know and then its just cue points and triggers!

  • Writhen

    Thanks for the compliment? What TKS file did you install? and what traktor are you using? You need to make sure that your master output volume is up, that the cross fader settings are right and the channel faders are up. check all the digital mixer settings just like you would check an analogue mixer

    its traktor version 3.3.0.180 the tks file that i installed was the one off of the NI website allowing the vci-100 to work with traktor. I checked just like you said, and found that i was something with the master output (it wasnt responding right with my macbook) I fixed it, and now every thing's good as new.

    Thx

  • nate

    where do you get your one to few word samples from the controllerism vid on youtube was cool with work it but i tried that wwith other songs just using the cue pts and it didnt sound quite right. are you doing anything diffferent besides the arcade triggers?

  • <blockquote cite="#comment-305"> not at all- drum and bass is great- you can just juggle it half time. imagine you are juggling slow hip-hop

    I know, but generally it won't leave too much room if you're onto neurofunk or other heavy stuff. It's too much dense. When you're doing liquid or deeps, it might work, but for these I personally prefer to leave the songs alone and work with synthesis fx like phaser, flanger or filters.

    I found that audio clip on my iTunes, you might want to give it a check:

    http://www.submusica.com/uploads/TorqHotCueClip.m

  • <blockquote cite="#comment-285">Also, did you tried applying this technique by using an drumpad controller like M-Audio Trigger Finger or Akai MPD16? If so, what are your opinions on them? I'm tempted to add one of those onto my setup.

    no- i dont like the pads as much- I have tried them with my novation 25Sl but I think the keys on an oxygen-8 and my arcade buttons work much better for juggling.

  • <blockquote cite="#comment-288">

    But since the genres I play are way too fast to do beatmatching like drum n?bass and techno,

    Oh, sorry, I meant beatjuggling, duh! 😀

    not at all- drum and bass is great- you can just juggle it half time. imagine you are juggling slow hip-hop

  • <blockquote cite="#comment-296">I've installed the tks file so that my VCI-100 can work with Traktor 3.3, but now the music wont play out of the Macbook's speakers, or out of it's headphone jack. Yet before I installed the tks file, it would play music perfectly. Is there anyway for me to fix this? I've tried posting about it on NI's forums, but I've been met with no luck. Please help!

    Thanks for the compliment… What TKS file did you install? and what traktor are you using? You need to make sure that your master output volume is up, that the cross fader settings are right and the channel faders are up. check all the digital mixer settings just like you would check an analogue mixer.

  • Writhen

    I know my comment is all off topic, but I really need help with fixing it

  • Writhen

    I've installed the tks file so that my VCI-100 can work with Traktor 3.3, but now the music wont play out of the Macbook's speakers, or out of it's headphone jack. Yet before I installed the tks file, it would play music perfectly. Is there anyway for me to fix this? I've tried posting about it on NI's forums, but I've been met with no luck. Please help!

    Oh, and by the way, I think u and Moldover are taking controllerism to the forefront of the electronic scene. While the older guys will constantly talk about only using vinyl, the fact is, change is inevitable. They will either adapt to what will happen, or their popularity will diminish

  • But since the genres I play are way too fast to do beatmatching like drum n?bass and techno,

    Oh, sorry, I meant beatjuggling, duh! 😀

  • Also, did you tried applying this technique by using an drumpad controller like M-Audio Trigger Finger or Akai MPD16? If so, what are your opinions on them? I'm tempted to add one of those onto my setup.

  • Nice article, I've been practicing this with the Xponent dedicated cue buttons.

    But since the genres I play are way too fast to do beatmatching like drum n'bass and techno, I find myself using the same techniques to remix main synths of classic tunes. It works the same way, the difference is that you assign 1, 2, 3 and 4 cue buttons to notes of a main synth, and the 5th button I setup just a bar before the drop of the main portion of a song. This way you can have a full double drop which will include those drum fills growing together before the two songs come together. It's really worth a try.

    I lost a quick audio clip that I used to have around to demonstrate it, I will be recording another one to better illustrate this idea.

  • Thanks for that Ean! It definitely helps in terms of emulating your performance technique!