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October 11, 2010 by DJ Elroy

On my way to work this morning I was sitting in traffic watching a man at the bus stop. He was waving his arms and appeared to be shouting and as I got closer I saw there was a dog running circles around him. The animal seemed to be enjoying itself; the more the man waved his arms, the more excited the dog got.

For the man it was a nuisance; an annoying animal that wouldn’t go away. For the dog it was a game. And for me the scene made the morning traffic a bit more bearable.

It got me to thinking that nobody ever interprets a situation the same. Two witnesses to the same crime will have two differing stories about what happened.

And the same applies to music.

People can hear the same song and react differently. Some will love a track, others will hate it. Experienced DJs are able to find the songs that people like and want to hear. They understand that nothing will please everyone. But because the jock can mix and match tunes, he knows that not all of them have to win everybody in the crowd. It’s about programming and diversity. The girl that likes your first two tracks me not be hot on your next one, but the guy that wasn’t impressed by your opening cut might rock out on the next few.

Too, a good DJ know that a song he’s playing doesn’t sound the same to him as it does to somebody listening. You need to take yourself out of the “DJ” shoes and put yourself onto the dancefloor.

Why is it that I hear some amazing music when I’m flipping thru DJ mixes but when I finally find the song online and play it by itself it falls flat?

It’s context. Knowing how to work a crowd and program a set can change the dynamic of a song. And manipulating these things is part of the fun of live mixing.

Next time you’re shopping for tunes, try hearing them with different “ears”. And the next time you’re mixing, don’t get so caught up in the technical side that you forget to listen to the music.

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