Beyond beatmatching, one of the most important things a DJ can do when lining up two tracks is to match a song’s phrasing. This means both songs will begin and end musical phrases in time with each other. Today’s Throwback Thursday technique from Ean covers the fundamentals of phrase mixing two songs to get them aligned in the mix!
Phrase Mixing For DJs
For many DJs, counting phrases comes naturally as a result of having mixed so many songs together over the years. But not everyone learns how to do this correctly – we’ve even seen headlining artists do this incorrectly in recent years as producers-who-DJ have become the sought-after act. So let’s take it back to the basics in this tutorial and count some phrases!
To understand how phrase mixing while DJing works, remember that there’s three elements of a phrase that you should be keeping track of:
- Beats: Individual counts of a song, four of which (in most dance music, which is 4/4) make up a….
- Bar: A collection of beats, usually 4. Each bar of a song will have the same amount of beats in it.
- Phrases: These are the longer sections of the song which are made up of a set number of bars – usually they also indicate the start of a new melodic or instrumental element in a track. Often phrases are 16 or 32 beats – or even more!
To match up two songs, you have to make sure that your second song starts aligned with the phrasing of the first. This really starts to make a difference when mixing in an intro of a song with just drums or simple elements – if you time it right, the musical phrase on the first song will end and your second song will start its first major melodic element (like a synth line, or vocals, or bass) right in time.