Musical DJ Concept

I sat down with a number of well-known DJs last week and talked to them about controllers, DJing and creativity (video to come on Friday). One of those in attendance was DJ Dan, a well-respected house DJ who has been spinning around the world for more than 20 years. While talking about how the VCI-100 Arcade edition has unlocked creative potential for him, Dan said something in particular that stuck with me. “Everyone knows that I can mix; I want to get to the shit that’s fun again.” While I agree–those controllers opened up an exciting new page in DJing–it barely scratches the surface of our collective creative potential. In order to take things to the next level, we need to develop interfaces that truly unlock a DJ’s musical potential. In that direction, we found the “DJ Machine” by Christian Peetz,  a conceptual prototype that proposes a number of interesting ideas.

HANDS ON DECK

A modular design concept: You add more controls as needed.

Each joystick is touch-sensitive; the initial touch engages the effect or action and then moving that joystick around modulates the sound. Multi-touch capability expands the creative potential by engaging and manipulating  multiple parameters at once, much like my cue point chord concept. The tops of the joysticks are also displays that provide labels, visual feedback and track info.

Like many other designs concepts we have featured in the past, this one is likely the final thesis project of a design major with an interest in DJing. Projects like these ask “what could it be?” rather than “what should it be?” Unlike many makers of commercially available products that seek to fill readily apparent needs in the “DJ market,” budding visionary designers tend to create concepts with their wild imaginations. And we love them for that, even if their designs never do see the light of day. What do you think: How would you use such an interface, or how can this concept be incorporated into what we already have?

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  • And what of it?

    I must be the only one that think this thing looks like a waste of time! That video looked boring as hell, just a guy wobbling little joy sticks around. It didn’t even look consistent with what was going on musically. If I was at a gig and someone was performing with that shit I’d probably walk out and try to find a more exciting room. “hands on deck”?? Where’s the deck? And how can that thing be more hands on than, well, a deck?!

  • Maestro B

    I like it. Anything that gives DJ more control over the music has got to be a good thing. For me, I like doing a set which contains the normal journey of individual tracks, while also layering key elements from certain tracks throughout the set, thus making the whole thing gel together. Its something that most DJs already do, but this type of technology will make it more manageable. I like the “art” of selecting tracks that build a progression (traditional DJing), but I’m always searching for a way to make the progression more coherant, and I think clever looping with these midi tools is opening this up even further.

    Did that make sense? Maybe not. Its something I think about often, but usually don’t put into words.

  • signaturex

    …….ould have the option of customization, but it wouldn’t be required for those users who want to dj “out of the box”.

    wow… ‘out of the box’ just made sense on a completely new and previously explored plane of mediocracey .. for me. chuckle. ..

    idealally
    Virtual hardware. REduce cables, reduce connections. reduce packaging, resource consumption, reduce pollution. programs and controll devices should do something besides .. making money and cluttering the landscape. Im not talking about industry standards.. Innovation standards!

  • Mudo

    Well the great of these announcement is flexibility but you could use in a closed way (using “closed” patches from another user) like a vst inside ableton but with “vinyl control” flava…

    😉

  • duerr

    [quote comment=””]I think modular is a step in the right direction. My strategy right now is to buy a midi bigger than I need it so it leaves the software a bit of room to “grow”. As far as the 4 track thing goes…isn’t BT really pushing that right now? He turned the iphone into a pretty sick controller using the program he wrote called “sonifi”. 4 tracks, intuitive filters and stutters…looks like he nailed it. The problem is that it only works with one track right now. I’d like to see a jump in the digital market in this direction but lets be honest boys, WE STILL HAVE TERRITORY RESTRICTIONS ON OUR ONLINE MUSIC STORES! The industry is a bit too set in its ways and the artist are bound by the atavistic models that are already in place. If we got the multi track thing up and going you’d instantly create an army of James Holdens out there making quality.
    Until the online music industry changes we will continue to see novel new things regularly, but ultimately we need to take one giant leap to free up the maximum creativity of the craft.[/quote]
    [quote comment=”21818″][quote comment=”21810″]i think the future of digital djing lies in software innovations more than hardware innovations at this point in time anyway. As it is the current softwares try their best to emulate the tried and true analogue technologies and do a good job. But I feel there is just so much untapped potential with digital dj software, there’s so much room for innovation right now. A software that combines the strengths of a user-friendly dj software like traktor with the flexibility of a daw software like ableton is what digital djing needs right now.

    There are definately things that could be improved with midi controllers, but until a software comes out that really takes digital djing to the next level I think it’s safe to say that the current controller technologies are more than adequate.[/quote]

    Mmmm like this?

    http://www.mspinky.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=921&highlight=maxforlive

    hahahahaha…

    game set match.

    Enjoy!

    …[/quote]

    im really excited about maxforlive but that’s not really what I meant. Maxforlive is for advanced users who want to program their own instruments, and for anyone who’s heard of Reaktor it’s not a new concept by any means.

    An ideal new dj software would be just as user-friendly and simple to learn as Traktor, but with the flexibility of ableton…. So in otherwords it would have the option of customization, but it wouldn’t be required for those users who want to dj “out of the box”.

  • J450N N4M3

    I think modular is a step in the right direction. My strategy right now is to buy a midi bigger than I need it so it leaves the software a bit of room to “grow”. As far as the 4 track thing goes…isn’t BT really pushing that right now? He turned the iphone into a pretty sick controller using the program he wrote called “sonifi”. 4 tracks, intuitive filters and stutters…looks like he nailed it. The problem is that it only works with one track right now. I’d like to see a jump in the digital market in this direction but lets be honest boys, WE STILL HAVE TERRITORY RESTRICTIONS ON OUR ONLINE MUSIC STORES! The industry is a bit too set in its ways and the artist are bound by the atavistic models that are already in place. If we got the multi track thing up and going you’d instantly create an army of James Holdens out there making quality.
    Until the online music industry changes we will continue to see novel new things regularly, but ultimately we need to take one giant leap to free up the maximum creativity of the craft.

  • merv griffin

    let’s get completely modular…. i mean.. like a lego set of MIDI mappable components that you can assemble in any way you choose. A button here, x-y pad there, knobs up here, faders down here, etc…. clip them together like legos and map them. Take cues from those who spend hours creating macro controls. Expectations have risen dramatically, even casual DJs would throw in a few extra buttons if they were cheap enough.

  • nateboogee

    These joysticks are all effects over the music you are playing. What is the most sensational part of turntablism to me is that you directly affect the sound to create your own sound. I would like to see these joysticks directly affect the sound in a way similar to scratching and mixing. Scratching is a back and forth motion, but the joysticks can move in any direction? How can multidirection affect sound and scratch movements? Increase the pitch of the scratch to higher or lower octave. Or fader movements? Maybe a joystick movement that incorporates smart mix parameters as you move the fader joystick.

  • danny livewire

    I think the future of DJing relies solely in the people who appreciate electronic music and DJs to begin with. The Fans make it what it is. As DJ Dan mentioned: “Everyone knows that I can mix; I want to get to the shit that’s fun again.” …… You can have the best controller in the world, the best mixes in the world, or the best collection of tracks in the world…. But if you don’t have fans that appreciate the sound. What is it all really worth?

  • DJ Phaidon

    1) DJ Dan is the shit, and amazing at what he does
    2) This controller reminds me of similar functionality to a reactable http://www.reactable.com/ that might actually be portable. I think it would be a step forward for controllers, but imagine the headache trying to get the information that you want to each touchscreen. Could be a super idea, or a horrible failure depending on how well designed it was.
    3) Splitting songs into separate tracks would be easy as hell if it was split on the recording side. The tech is there for it. The monetary incentive to do so is not, on the recording industry side anyway.

  • M_ntek

    [quote comment=””]That looks fun and fragile[/quote]
    [quote comment=”21816″][quote comment=””]dj’s should be able to buy a special version of each track, wich is split up into loops,vocals,into’s etc and then u can remix the tune live,adding your own spices…[/quote]
    this would be sick !! i would love to mess around with so many songs. like you love the song but you think there’s more potential in it .. it would feel like remixing a song live.[/quote]

    Had the same idea for some months. Sad there is no software to split a track like that.. Keeping in mind how hard it is to extract an acapella from a track – seems like this dream will never become reality. Plus the artists wont just open up their secrets so easy.

  • Mixer Miyagi

    That looks fun and fragile

  • Mudo

    [quote comment=”21810″]i think the future of digital djing lies in software innovations more than hardware innovations at this point in time anyway. As it is the current softwares try their best to emulate the tried and true analogue technologies and do a good job. But I feel there is just so much untapped potential with digital dj software, there’s so much room for innovation right now. A software that combines the strengths of a user-friendly dj software like traktor with the flexibility of a daw software like ableton is what digital djing needs right now.

    There are definately things that could be improved with midi controllers, but until a software comes out that really takes digital djing to the next level I think it’s safe to say that the current controller technologies are more than adequate.[/quote]

    Mmmm like this?

    http://www.mspinky.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=921&highlight=maxforlive

    hahahahaha…

    game set match.

    Enjoy!

  • Priscilla

    \I agree with the software comment. I mean the lemur is out of this world if you think about it. It can do so many conceptual things but the real power lies in the software. The software needs to open the doors and then the controllers will follow

  • Anonymous

    [quote comment=””]dj’s should be able to buy a special version of each track, wich is split up into loops,vocals,into’s etc and then u can remix the tune live,adding your own spices…[/quote]
    this would be sick !! i would love to mess around with so many songs. like you love the song but you think there’s more potential in it .. it would feel like remixing a song live.

  • duerr

    i think the future of digital djing lies in software innovations more than hardware innovations at this point in time anyway. As it is the current softwares try their best to emulate the tried and true analogue technologies and do a good job. But I feel there is just so much untapped potential with digital dj software, there’s so much room for innovation right now. A software that combines the strengths of a user-friendly dj software like traktor with the flexibility of a daw software like ableton is what digital djing needs right now.

    There are definately things that could be improved with midi controllers, but until a software comes out that really takes digital djing to the next level I think it’s safe to say that the current controller technologies are more than adequate.

  • Mudo


    Nice but not for me.

    I prefer arduinome+abletonlive+maxforlive+ms.pinky+turntable+midimixer to do the “old fashioned” mixing, mash up, composition with old turntables (which are becoming again at playground thanks to imaginative solutions in downgrade compatibility efforts).

    The tendency is becoming clear:
    Allinone Hardware closed solutions vs modular parts in open integration.

    Just my 2cents.

  • celtic-dj

    looks like a bundle of magic mushrooms put together…lol
    intresting idea for midi controller..
    i think creating live music will never compete with cubase,reason,,etc i think the future is gonna strike us when cubase and traktor learn to work together !!!
    dj’s should be able to buy a special version of each track, wich is split up into loops,vocals,into’s etc and then u can remix the tune live,adding your own spices…

    it seems no one actualy figuerd out the full potential of 4 decks,so the search for creativity continues…..
    despretley waiting for NI team to add a professional sampler to traktor pro instead of one of the decks !!!!
    IMO once the sampler will be on board there will be several controllers too choose from to complete the digital set up.

    thanks for the article DJTT

  • The Vly

    Sick deconstruction of Trentemoller!