Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Part 1 - How I "Invented" Beat Mixing - 1981

So I didn't really invent "Mixing on Beat" but since I didn't have any DJ help I FIGURED IT OUT for myself. In '81 I started Djing, I was a freshman in High School. I had 2 Toshiba Belt-Drive Turntables with speed controls (Pitch controls - needed for beat mixing but I have no clue at this time), of-course amp, speakers and a mixer. I did a few private parties and I knew enough to know that the mixes that I did didn't sound right, so I would simply fade one record out and put the next one on to avoid crappy mixes and I assumed I would figure the rest out soon enough.

Anyway, I was hired by my grade school, St. Bartholomew's in Yonkers NY to do the next Teen Party which was on a saturday night. I spent alot of time, as I still do now, preparing for the "event" which was a big one for me because I still knew the 7th and 8th graders there, not to mention MY class (now in HS) and the grades above me who would be coming back for the party, so needless to say, I wanted to do a good job.

The weekend of the party is here, its Friday Night, cousins, aunt and uncle are over my house and my Uncle Bob is checkin out some music with me and messin around with the turntables. Here's how I "Invented" beat mixing.....................I used to roller and ice skate at Murray's in Yonkers. The dj there was "Rockin Rick" He saw my interest in DJing and always took time to talk to me and answer questions. He told me about "Beats Per Minute" HUH??? But never explained what it meant,and i wasn't too sure he knew what it was either. Let's go back to that friday night with me and my uncle going over music. It was about 9pm, the night before the BIG Teen Party and I had "Planet Rock" on one turntable and "Numbers" on the other. I noticed that they were very close in speed (beats per minute?) and they would stay on-beat (sync up) BUT one was a tiny bit faster sooooo....... since i had a speed control on my turntables i just slowed the faster one down. THAT WAS IT! It all came to me that night, Beats Per Minute were how many down and up beats each song had per minute, and I had to find songs with similar BPM's, and adjust the Pitch Controls on the turntables until the songs "sync up" That's how you mix on beat.

After everyone left, i stayed up in my room lights off, headphones on, and using a stopwatch, I counted and labeled the beats-per-minute of every record that I had at the time - about 300? I practiced mixing and finally went to sleep around 5am only to wake up the next morning to practice alot more.

I remember the night of the Teen Party, I was 13 years old, mixing records on-beat and no-one could believe it. I was nervous as hell, but not even the dj's that they used to hire for the Teen Parties could mix, and they were much older and DJing alot longer then my few months. I mean no-one could mix on-beat only the pro's on the radio.....and me, a 13 year old dj, who invented it for himself.

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