Matching beats involves seamlessly combining the tempo of two songs so that the beats of the two songs strike at the same time when both are played simultaneously. The technique has been developed so that there is no time delay between songs on a dance floor, so that people stay on the dance floor at the end of a song instead of leaving. Matching beats manually (by ear) can be done using vinyl, CD drives, and even computer programs.
Part 1 of 4: Placing an input signal into the song
Step 1. Get two vinyl record players
You will have to use both at the same time to match the rhythms of the two songs.
If you use CD players, you will also need two. You will need two CD players to play two songs at the same time and work on matching the beats
Step 2. Pick two songs that you know very well
These are the songs whose rhythms you will try to match first. It's best to choose two songs that you know well because it makes it easier to match the beats when first learning. It is also better to choose two songs of the same genre with similar beats per minute (BPM) (+/- 5 BPM) and the same time signature since as a beginner it will be easier to match their beats.
Most house music songs have a 4/4 time signature and a BPM between 120 and 130
Step 3. Adjust your headphones to cover one ear and play track B
This is so you can hear track A through the speakers and track B through the headphones. Track A will be the song played in front of the audience and Track B will be the next song in the repertoire if you are in a performance.
You should also turn off or cover the BPM and waveform readers with sticky notes. The goal of this exercise is to learn how to match the beats by ear so that using these readers would be like cheating
Step 4. Put an input signal on track B on the first beat of a measure
Find the first hit of the song by starting to play the song and then stopping the record as soon as you hear the first hit. He then rotates the puck back and forth through the hit position to precisely locate it. Placing an input signal on the record means that the needle will be slightly behind the hit position.
- If you're using a CD player, play the track and then hit the pause button as soon as you hear the first hit. Rewind a bit using the jog wheel or search buttons to find the point just before the first hit. You can also set a cue point for future use by pressing the “Cue” button just before the first hit of the track.
- Although most professional CD turntables claim to start instantly there will always be a slight delay between when you press the play button and when the track actually begins to play. You will have to get used to using your individual CD player and adjust your set point based on this feature.
- Some songs have a middle or intro at the beginning so you may have to move past the mark to get to the first hit.
Part 2 of 4: Synchronizing the Beats
Step 1. Start track B so that it lines up with the rhythm of track A
Take your finger off the record to start track B. It's best to start with the first beat of a measure or, even better, a phrase so that the flow of both tracks occurs simultaneously.
- A measure is a group of repeated beats with the first measure usually sounding heavier or slightly different in sound. There may be a sudden kick and snare sound, a new bass line, or the start of a leading synth.
- A phrase is a set of measures that are repeated, such as in a chorus. House music almost always has 32-beat phrases, but 8- and 16-beat phrases are also common.
- If you are using a CD player press the Play / Pause button to start track B.
Step 2. Speed up or slow down one of the tracks to correct for any lag
If you started track B slightly outside the rhythm of track A, then you will need to speed up or slow down track B to get the beats to match.
- To speed up the track, you can give the record a slight push near the edge of the center label or turn the spindle clockwise using your index finger and thumb.
- To slow down the track you can lightly touch the outer edge of the record with your finger.
- If the rhythms of the records get further apart after correction, then you find yourself correcting in the wrong direction! Just correct in the opposite direction to fix the problem.
- If you're using a CD player you can use the "Pitch Bend" button to speed up or slow down the track or turn the search wheel if your CD player has them. Clockwise rotation will speed up the track while counter-clockwise rotation slows down the track. Both the "Pitch Bend" and "Jog Wheel" buttons can vary considerably between the different models so you should familiarize yourself with whatever player you are going to use.
Part 3 of 4: Adjust the tone
Step 1. Find out which track is faster or slower than the other
Choose an easily recognizable sound on Track B that plays once or twice per measure. When playing track B at the same time as track A, focus only on this sound and listen to where it falls on track A. You will start to notice that it either lags behind or runs ahead of where it should be on track A.
- Although it is easy to notice that the tracks are not at the same pace, it can be difficult to determine which one is faster or slower than the other.
- After a while the tracks will be so far apart that it will get confusing to determine which is slower or faster. If this happens, stop track B and make it start over.
Step 2. Speed up or slow down the pace of track B to match the rhythm of track A
Use the pitch slider to speed up or slow down track B. If you haven't corrected enough and the offset is still happening then continue moving the pitch slider in the same direction. If you've gone too far and overcorrected then the correct pitch is somewhere between the two pitch values and you can push the pitch slider in the opposite direction to find the perfect pitch.
- If you use a CD player you will need to adjust the pitch (called "pitch bending") in the same way as on a vinyl record player. The only difference is that you will be able to see a very precise tonal percentage on the screen, which can help with making adjustments.
- If the tracks get so far apart that you can no longer determine which one is going faster or slower, then stop and put an input signal on track B one more time. This is going to happen a lot in the beginning, so be patient and try again.
Step 3. Wait 20 seconds to see if the tracks start to separate again
If they don't deviate until after 20-30 seconds, then you've successfully matched the beats.
Matching the beats perfectly (lasting minutes or more without drifting) is very difficult to achieve and not necessary. If after a lapse of between 20 and 30 seconds the two tracks start to separate, you can always adjust a little more. Once you play a real party you'll be so good at noticing the differences that you'll adjust for any misalignment before the dancers even hear it
Part 4 of 4: Use Beat Matching to Continue the Repertoire
Step 1. Try to match the key of the two songs before track A has finished
You should try to match track B to track A before track A ends so that you can move on to the next song during a performance.
It's okay if you can't do it at first, just restart track A and try again
Step 2. Stop track B and start it again
You will have matched the tempos of the two songs by keeping track B playing on your headphones. To play track B on the speakers, you will have to stop track B and restart it looking for the first hit of the record.
If you use a CD player you can press the "Cue" button again. Since you have already set the reference point before, this action will take you back to that point and then you will need to press the pause button
Step 3. Wait for the mixing point
It should be a beat near the end or before the live song breaks at the beginning of a measure or phrase. Preferably there will be no voices at this point in the song because voices can cause songs whose rhythms match to sound confusing or conflicting.
Step 4. Release your finger from record track B to start it at the correct beat
The tracks must be in the same rhythm, so if you notice there is a delay then slow down or speed up the record by tapping the spinning dial with your finger or pushing it lightly to speed it up. Now the rhythm of the prepared song will sound exactly when the rhythm of the live track does. The public will hardly notice that they are two different songs, especially if they are in the same key.
- If you are using a CD player press the Play button to start track B.
- At first, track B will continue to play on headphones only. You will need to correct any errors in terms of delay at this point.
Step 5. Mix the two songs using the channel sliders
Increase the volume of track B until both are played through the speakers. Make sure there is a reasonable time during which both songs play together (a minimum of 15 seconds) and then slowly fade track A. As you fade from track to track, no one will know when track A has finished, and people will have the feeling that only the voices have changed.
Step 6. Start the same process with the next song
Now you can repeat the process to match the beats to the next song in your repertoire by placing the new vinyl or CD on Deck A. This time you will have to match the rhythm of the new song to Track B.
- Matching rhythms by ear using computer programs uses the same processes, but with the buttons and features of the particular computer system. It's best to cover the BPM value and waveform images so you don't cheat while learning.
- A simple DJ trick is to have an "escape track" on hand. Those are tracks that start out flat, which are easy to sync. If you feel like you can't mix the desired song in time, please play the escape track to prevent the music from stopping.
- Try recording your mixes. Many MP3 mixing programs have MP3 or WAV recording capabilities. If you use other playback devices such as CDJs or turntables, you can use a tape recorder, or plug the mixer output into the LINE IN jack on your sound card. Listen to the recorded mix and take note of your mistakes as you practice.
- If you don't want to learn how to match beats manually (by ear) you can use the "Sync" button found on many computer systems when mixing songs.
- Even after you can match the beats of two songs, you could easily notice differences in volume, tracks that are in different tunings, or records that all sound mixed together. The next step is to learn how to mix songs taking all of these factors into account.