spinning round and round since 1998

A funny thing happened to me the other day. I received an email from a friend last Thursday with the subject line “potential gig”, asking if I could take part in a competition the following Tuesday. The email continued: “The set is only 15 minutes long and the theme is mash up – so you have to mash at least three genres in a mini set.”

So far so good…

Curiosity got the better of me so I tried to find out a bit more. Turns out the event was the Red Bull Thre3style competition. 15 minutes, three styles, two turntables and a mixer.

I don’t even own a pair of turntables.

Luckily after making some more enquiries I was told that:

  • YES, I was allowed to use Traktor Scratch,
  • NO, I couldn’t use a MIDI controller,
  • YES, I could go on early.

I can honestly say that I don’t remember ever being as stressed as the days leading up to the event. With such a short time to prepare, I was panicking. Nothing in my set was coming together, and I scrapped my entire set and started again at least twice. But you know what? Once I arrived at the venue and saw the stage, my nerves disappeared. Even though I had maybe three or four tunes in my playlist, the moment I put the needle on the record, I knew I was ready.

That night, I learnt an important lesson: there is such a thing as too much preparation. Trust your skills and talent.

As a DJ/producer, it helps a lot to understand how music ‘works’. Knowing how to read notes on sheet music, even at basic level can open up more possibilities for harmonic mixing, composition and many other parts of the process. Even though I spent several years as a nipper learning the piano, it’s all a bit rusty these days.

Someone on the DJTechTools forums recommended a brilliant, simple interactive tutorial to run through some of the basics. The lessons are quick and easy, with visual cues to see what is meant. The site is broken down into three sections:

  1. Lessons – a quick slideshow style run through the things you need to know, including animated visual aids. There are about 30 or so sections.
  2. Exercises – You can create your own exercises to help practice music understanding. There are several categories to choose from.
  3. Tools – Some small tools and calculators to help you along with music.


You might not be an expert any time soon, but at least you won’t have to pretend you understand when Clefs, sharps and Staffs are mentioned. Head over to Ricci Adams’ musictheory.net site and get learning.

Thanks for the tip, djalexlaine!


Clubbing at home, apparently.

We received an email with an interesting competition from B@ TV and the notorious DJ Hero music game.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to be a jet-setting super-star DJ with a global crowd literally at your finger tips, now is your chance to find out. Be-at.tv are on the hunt for one top-notch DJ to support Mark on a globetrotting Toolroom tour. This includes a DJ set at Ministry of Sound as well as your local club!

Quoth the email:

To enter, you must record a 60-minute mix on to MP3. You have carte blanche to really go for it here, in whatever genre you choose and we will accept mixes done on vinyl, CDJs or laptops.

Once you’ve whipped up 60-minutes of beat nirvana, simply join the DJ Hero page on b@ and you will be able to upload your mix.

Mark and the Toolroom records crew will select their favourite set and who knows, you could end up being the DJ Hero of the Dark Knight himself.

No idea on a closing date but get in there quick!

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