The moment frequently pops up when you must come up with the next song in a hurry. The clock is ticking backwards and you find your self with only 1 minute left in a track and then you think of the perfect song, but wait- what was it called again? This is one area where 12″ records offered a serious advantage, instead of requiring the memorization of 4000 song names- you became emotionally attached the the visual image of the cover.
Many djs could NEVER remember the name of their go-to record but instantly pull up the most minuscule details about a cover. “Yeah- its the purple one with the little orange dot on the corner and Erika’s phone number scrawled on the back”. Hey we are artists people, and artists are a visual group of folks.
So, how to work this problem out in the digital age? Well, there are a few tricks up my sleeve that I can share with you. Next week we will expand this concept into a full blown I tunes management class but first I want to share one simple little trick that will go a long way.
I like to call this technique “association tagging” because it creates useful associations between un-related tracks. Lets say you stumble on a mix that works perfectly so you think to yourself- wow I need to remember that for the future! Put the names of BOTH songs in each others comments sections. Now, you have created a permanent association between the tracks. Finding epic blends on the night of a gig is a complete rush but to be honest most of them are going to turn up while practicing. Always using this system will create an easy way to quickly find the next song in a mix. Just search for the name of the song you are already playing and then anything you previously discovered works well will pop up. I am always re-discovering mixes that I completely forgot about this way.
This technique also works well for grouping together logical sets of music. For example, lets say you have a series of 5 songs you always play in a row. Rather than search for each of them at a time just put the name of the first song in the comments of all the tracks. You know the Techno remix of “Dont stop believing”** is the song that kicks off the epic 80’s rave rock mini mix that you always do. So put the title in the other songs that you play after that. Now you have an instant set list without ever creating a play list!
Finally, it works wonders for sub-micro genres that require grouping but don’t need their own genre. One funny example was the Outkast hit “Hey Ya”. 5 years ago that awesome track allowed me to sneak in all kinds of cut time drum and bass style songs into a hip hop/pop set. So to easily group all the songs that fit that tempo and rhythmic pattern I just put “Hey Ya” into the comments section. One simple search instantly pulls up hundreds of songs that will mix well in that part of my set. Its a search that I still execute several times in almost every set. That example is particularly good because many of the songs that work together fall into very different genres including, D&B, 80’s, Rag Time, Reggae. Instead of creating yet another genre, I have found one connection to link them all together thats easy to remember: “Hey Ya”***
** Never play this song unless its Brad’s Gama Gama Pheta Beta frat party.
*** Yes, its ok to play this song again.
Hey hey, I didn’t really follow the -whole- thread here, but I got to the “comments in Torq” section. If any of y’all wander over to torq-dj.com’s forum, most there agree that you should simply open iTunes first, then Torq… and use iTunes as your browser. Myself: I alt+tab between the two and drag to deck… (previewing on a third dedicated channel on my mixer).
To be honest, this site has somewhat inspired me to investigate turning some gear in, and going “fully digital.” More on that, possibly… later…
Thanks for existing!
I use various words in the comments section to describe the feel of the track, and its saved my ass on many occasions when playing out (well its improved my track selection heavily). Tagging using the word “uplifting” in corresponding tracks has greatly improved the end of my live sets. Another good tagging word i use is “top40”, which works wonders when you want to do a bit of a mash-up that everyone will recognise. Hope you find this useful.
I have suggested a feature in the Ni forums that would be the ultimate tool for track association. Much more advanced than tagging and playlisting in terms of improvising sessions on the fly.
Please vote for it if you find it useful
Hello to all,
I use the comment line too, in this way…
low : for songs with low rythm
low+ : for MUST PLAY slow songs
med : not too slow songs but not too fast
med+ : for MUST PLAY med songs
high : speedy songs
Acapella : acapellas
Solo instrument : can be drums, violin, what ever.
The reason of this order is to have a good sequence, i hate when the dj sets are going from a speed to another without order….
PS: I DONT USE GENRE IN THE COMMENT DUE I HAVE PLAYLIST OF EACH GENRE THAT I PLAY.
Good tip – even if you don't use a digital DJing setup or are having to live without it due to a dead laptop (assuming you have a mothership PC at home) as you can still use the relative information to help you pack your record bag. Sweet!
Thank for our tips. I use indeed RE for analyzing bpm and keys (kudos to the great work of jesse bickmore), it's an excellent tool for digital djing.
But while mixing, I'd rather use only one program at a time to avoid juggling between the two (and despite drag and drop works pretty well, with some tracks it just doesn't work).
I would still like to organize and tag my tracks in one unique library, iTunes, and then be able to import properly into T3. Integration between T3 and iTunes just works fine. The only issue is the tags matching fields…
What don't you just use Rapid Evolution alongside Traktor? You can quite simple scale the RE window so that it doesn't cover all of traktor, then simple drag and drop into which ever deck. Tagging in RE is very versatile, just get creative with the Styles function in it. And it stores mixouts, finds all compatible tunes for harmonic mixing etc… No real need for itunes. And if like me, you use vinyl as well there is no other option really.
Personally I first import new tracks into Traktor, find the BPM's and place any cue points and then import the tracks into RE to find the Key and tag them, adding any mixouts whilst I practise or play out.
The only thing to bear in mind is the extra memory RE uses, so you may need to upgrade, but to be far it isn't that much. You can limit the amount it uses when you install.
I am completetly messed up with tags, etc… I think my collection is properly tagged, but it’s not. There’s always a stone I stumble upon.
Could you tell us how do you treat your tracks in order to have them perfectly tagged and compatible w/ Traktor Pro.
iTunes is my library. I analyze tracks in Rapid Evolution, then manually enter key into “composer” tag and key in “Group” field of iTunes.
When I import into Traktor pro, basic info show up, but Ratings won’t show up for example. Nor key, nor BPM… Apart from the basics fields, I can’t really find matching fields between iTunes and Traktor…
All that is very easy to you, but still a mess for me.
Thanks for a fantastic work you’re doin’ here. Really, the amount of useful info I find on your site is amazing.
I think it would be cool to do some brainstorming to define a list of tags that are common to most DJ's, not only the common 'music style' but also things that have been mentioned such as, vocals, high-energy, etc.
Any volunteer? 🙂
I'm using a txt file for this and have it open in ultraedit while playing.
i'm already doing the exact same (putting the *perfect to mix with* track name in the comment line)! 🙂
works also, if you want to use tracks with samples and the original source tracks together or you're just searching for them.
the comment line is in general very handy – i also like to add the mood of a track or the right place/ time to play it.
There is a program out there called 'icon Changer', this program allows multipul images of a singular file type [ie – mp3]. Oh if only tracktor supported it!! 😀
thanks for addressing this topic Ean. it's really tough with the MP3s. i have found it's important for me to not buy too many songs that i'm unsure about to avoid having them clog up my database and confuse me.
and i also try really hard to get to know the songs that i do buy on a closer level where i do my best to listen to them outside of the DJ application.
but on the whole i haven't found a really good solution and i think we're all hoping that Torq beefs up its database in future releases.
<blockquote cite="#comment-3990">I use the comments section extensively, but more in the way that tags/categories are used in blogs. Every song has a list of words or phrases that describe it, like "groovy", "cool bassline", "bongo-break". I also use a lot a playlists to group songs together.
That's exactly what I do, I use tags such as "groovy", "happy", "epic", "set-ender", "repetitive", etc. Unfortunately, this does not work too well – you still have to know your tracks, so that when you look at the track name you can hear it in your head, and this is difficult to do if you have a bunch of tracks. I guess with mp3s it's more difficult – in previous times you couldn't carry a thousand records with you.
Tagging does help though if I'm playing a vocal track and I want to do another vocal and also something that's happy, then I can search for "happy vocal" and voila!
thanks for heaps of good ideas, will have to check them out still new to DJing so everything helps.
well, most of your songs dont have album art. As another reader pointed out beatport still does not supply mp3s with art. WHY!? plus you will still find art faster in a record box than you would scrolling through a play list so it wont help you find that one perfect song faster.
So, no mention of the possibility for album art in Traktor?
I realize that it is not a comprehensive solution because there is no practical way to view 10,000+ images at once and pick out a jam. I suspect though that some visual indicator like this could improve the time to find random tracks.
I recently started using 'Music Folders' in Tracktor, so I now have every single MP3 imported and analyzed. After the first few sessions, the need for a personal tagging system became more evident.
native instruments created the kore sound browser, which is great for finding sounds in a producing environment. analogue to the sound browser should be a kind of track browser.
wawawa- what?!!! no searching in the comments of Torq? wow- thats strange.
Its not strange its just a really crappy browser which is doing my head in 🙁
There are a few programs that do allow for covers in the database. Virtual Dj, Rockit, and Djay are a few that come to mind.
I like making playlists that are named by genre/place within my set
eg: Techy/early, Electro/PeakTime , Breaks/funky time…. etc
I recently went through and organized the genres of about 800 songs… it was very helpful, though I basically made up a bunch of my own genres, how I think of it in my head (try to get 10 DJs to agree on what genre a song is… it's fun).
Regarding your intro, the other thing you can do when a song is running out and you're not sure what you want to play next is throw it into an 8 or 32 beat loop… quick and easy way to get a little more time.
wawawa- what?!!! no searching in the comments of Torq? wow- thats strange.
Unfortunely i cannot search in comments of mp3s. Damn Torq 😉
Ean Golden mixing with drum and bass? I wanna hear some of that, d&b is my all time favorite genre :p
Nice skills mixing "Hey ya" with that crazy 11/4 time signature with drum and bass which is typically 4/4 !
And as for Association Tagging, well damnit… why didn't i think of that!!
I use the comments section extensively, but more in the way that tags/categories are used in blogs. Every song has a list of words or phrases that describe it, like "groovy", "cool bassline", "bongo-break". I also use a lot a playlists to group songs together.
However, the best solution would be a djing application that stores the covers of the songs in the database. Unfortunately, there seems to be no program that offers this obvious feature. Beatport has icons for every release anyway, and it shouldn't be much of a problem to include these icons in the MP3 metadata. (The files are > 10 MB anyway, who cares about a KB more or less.)
The browsing and sorting capabilities of Traktor et al are very bad and could use a lot of improvement.
Great idea. I’m going to try organizing my music this way.
sjks – Sven