The world of DJing has never been easier with streaming services and record pools offering unlimited music at our finger tips. As a beginner DJ you might be finding it overwhelming to understand which songs to practice with and where to start.
There are different factors in which help certain songs mix well together. One factor is certainly popularity of music but also more music theory based aspects, including harmonics, rhythm / energy and beat patterns.
In this article I’ve focused mainly on my thoughts on what tracks go well together in terms of energy and beat patterns. Then later in the article more on the technical aspects of why tracks mix well together e.g. harmonics.
Note: the below top 10 tracks per music genre are based on my experience, tastes and opinion. These are short DJ set lists of tracks to help beginner DJs get an understanding of some example DJ tracks to practice DJing with and get some inspiration.
Top 10 Drum and Bass Tracks
The logic behind this DJ set gives beginner DJs the chance to focus on sticking to the standard beat pattern for Drum and Bass. You may of read about another Beatmatch Guru article which explains about different beat patterns in this genre here.
The flow of the tracks I’ve tried to keep with liquid but “dancey” Drum and Bass and then progress slightly harder towards the end, with the final track bringing it down again.
|2||Netsky||Iron Heart (Nu:Logic Remix)|
|3||Random Movement||Future Fondler|
|5||SpectraSoul||Away With Me (Calibre Remix)|
|6||Dawn Wall||Rain God|
|9||Total Science, Quadrant, Iris||Pushin Your Luck|
|10||Zed Bias, Fox||Something about This (Nu:Tone Remix)|
Top 10 Funky Groove House Tracks
The logic behind these tracks is simple. I’ve been curating a massive DJ list on Spotify for ages now and have found a lot of tracks that I feel work well together in the mix.
This list of tracks has been put together purely by ear or knowing the tracks and not know the key to influence my decision. Even though you can get stuck into harmonic mixing, it’s still worth getting to know your tracks and understanding how well you can match “sounds” instead of “key”.
After a while you will know what works well together and what doesn’t.
|1||Fries, Bridges||Forever This|
|4||Coeo||Like It Is|
|5||Tom Trago||Use Me Again – And Again|
|6||Armand Van Helden||U Don’t Know Me|
|8||Mattei & Omich||Drop the Bomb|
|9||Todd Terry, Junior Sanchez||Figure of Jazz|
|10||24 Hour Experience||Together|
Top 10 EDM Tracks
The flow of the EDM top 10 tracks is start off with catchy strong melody songs. Then half way through to build up more deep and heavy hitting tracks such as the FatBoy Slim remix and the Hardwell – Spaceman tracks.
Towards the end is to bring the vibe back down again and become even more melodic to balance out the heavy hitting tracks in the middle.
|1||David Guetta, Showtek||Bad (Extended Mix)|
|4||Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso||Calling (Lose My Mind)|
|5||Fatboy Slim & Riva Starr||Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat (Calvin Harris Remix)|
|7||Zed||Clarity feat. Foxes|
|8||Lana Del Rey vs. Cedric Gervais||Summertime Sadness Remix|
|10||Calvin Harris||Feel So Close|
Top 10 Beach House Tracks
Picture yourself DJing with the sun about to set, you’re near a pool and a beach. This is the playlist for that scenario 🙂
Some tracks have similar tempo and some don’t so much. So you have a choice and that’s to move the order of the tracks around or try to balance the tempo out slightly.
With this type of music some tracks don’t start with a beat which makes is super easy to mix on the break down of both tracks. Get creative with the EQ and maybe some FX in there too.
|1||Gnarly Gibbs||I Need My Girl|
|2||Wankelmut, Charlotte OC||Almost Mine (Radio Edit)|
|4||Above & Beyond||Sticky Fingers (Lane 8 Remix)|
|5||Anna Naklab, Alle Farben, Younotus||Super Girl|
|6||Carlos Robalinho||Carnerios Beach|
|7||Session Victim||Almost Midnight|
|8||Deep Active Sound||Departure|
|9||Bon Lui||Feel The Heat|
Top 10 Hip Hop Tracks
The tracks below are picked more on energy and popularity in comparison to purely rhythm based. Hip Hop is one of the genres out there that is not always mixed together based on beat matching.
“Dropping on the one” or slam mixing can help you mix Hip Hop tracks that have a simple vocal hook or sound before the drop. Especially helpful for DJs to mix between tracks of different energy and tempo. DJ Controllers are really good setting cue points. All you have to do now is press play on the correct cue point and time your switch of the cross fader really well.
Some the tracks below are amazing Hip Hop tracks to get the party going and singing along too. If you’ve got a party coming up I hope this Hip Hop Hop 10 helps inspire your party.
|1||House Of Pain||Jump Around|
|2||Kanye West||Gold Digger|
|3||Missy Elliott||Get Ur Freak On|
|4||Nelly||Hot In Herre|
|5||The Sugarhill Gang||Apache|
|6||Macklemore & Ryan Lewis||Can’t Hold Us|
|7||Snoop Dogg||Drop It Like It’s Hot|
|10||The Pharcyde||Passin’ Me By|
6 Tips for Beginner DJs Looking to Improve Mixing Techniques & Skills
1. Learn Harmonic Mixing [Examples to Practice DJing]
A great point to make about learning harmonic mixing is that if you learn this knowledge from the beginning then your mixing abilities will sky rocket the quality of your DJ sets that you put together.
I didn’t learn harmonic mixing from the beginning, in fact I turned my nose up to music theory in terms chords, key changes etc. I do however have a great ear for which tracks work well together so all is not lost if you don’t care about harmonic mixing so much.
I’ve been practicing my own harmonic mixing recently and found a few great examples that work quite well together. The website Mixed In Key gives some great advice about the types of key changes and shifts that can contribute to a some energy boosts to a DJ set.
Check out some great tracks to practice mixing as a beginner DJ and also inspiration for creating great set lists. Each section is broken out into each genre. Hope you enjoy mixing these together as much as I do.
Dance / House Mix Example: F Maj to A Maj
As I mentioned I was reading up on harmonic mixing in a bit more detail to get some mix ideas. Turns out F Maj into A Maj works really well and I have bought a few tracks on Beatport recently. I will leave you to practice mixing the below tracks, hope you enjoy.
- CamelPhat x Jake Bugg – Be Someone (F Maj)
- Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now (CamelPhat Remix) (A Maj)
Dance Club Classic Mix Example: (C Minor to D Minor)
Probably showing my age slightly here but I love 90s Dance Ibiza club classics, simply can’t beat that era of Dance music. I was having a nostalgic moment a while back and have since started to build up a Spotify list of my favourite tracks.
The below tracks work really well together and there’s a great boost of energy and synergy between them.
The first track fair enough is quite cheesy to a degree but what I love about the key change from C minor to D minor is the mood shift. You get a sort of energy change and really gets you into the groove.
Check out the article that inspired my thinking about this mix example.
- Livin’ Joy – Dreamer (Original Club Mix) (C Min)
- Tori Amos – Professional Widow (Armand Van Helden Remix) (D Min)
EDM Mix Example: (C Minor to D Minor)
Practice DJing two tracks for EDM with these two ideas. Yes, another C minor to D minor key change mix for some bad ass energy change. The first track has a brilliant piano stab vibe going on and then the groove and energy changes when the Oliver Heldens Remix jumps in with its deep bass riff. Check out the two tracks below and give it a go in the mix.
- David Guetta & Sia – Flames (Pink Panda Remix) (C minor)
- Y2K & bbno$ – Lalala (Oliver Heldens Remix) (D minor)
2. Pick Easy Beat Patterns to Mix with as a Beginner
Sure you could learn how to DJ House and Dance music, which I’m sure a lot of people want to do because they love the genre. I’d imagine a lot of people do want to get their teeth stuck into other genres which is a fair goal to have.
Where the issue may occur is when music genres outside of House music (or the music genre that you’re used to mixing) is with beat patterns that aren’t a simple 4 x 4 beat. When I say 4 x 4 this means a simple standard kick drum or snare on every count of the beat without deviation.
For example Drum and Bass, Garage and Down Tempo or Electronica, these genres deviate outside of the standard 4 x 4. Or do they?
I’ve found a couple of examples that you can practice your mixes in Drum and Bass and Speed Garage. It’s a really good way to hone in your ear to beat matching at different a tempo without having to get used to scatty beat patterns. Think of it as your training wheels mix training tracks.
4 x 4 Beat Drum and Bass Example Tracks to Mix
- SubFocus – Timewarp
- Taxman – Thr33
4 x 4 Beat Garage Example Tracks to Mix
- Roy Davis Jr – Gabriel (Live Garage Mix)
- Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close (Tuff Jams Even Closer Mix)
- St Germain – Alabama Blues (Todd Edwards Dub Mix)
3. Learn How to Drop Mix Like a Boss!
Drop mixing as I mentioned earlier is also known as slam mixing. It means that you can slam the crossfader across to the new track at 8, 4 beats or even 1 beat before the drop of a track.
This could be a really well known track or a new track it doesn’t matter. What counts is that you find a hook sound or vocal 4 counts before the drop or simply figure out out to drop on the one.
My example for this is Dead Prez – Hip Hop track, pretty much no usable intro to mix a beat with, so you’re swayed into dropping it in from the rapper saying “Fake, Fake, Records’. Press play below and that will be you cue point.
4. Mix Two Genres Together
Hip Hop & Drum and Bass Example Tracks to Mix
It’s great to mix two genres that you love together. Hip Hop and Drum and Bass in some cases can work really well together. I’ve mixed the below tracks before at a party which worked well to get the tone and tempo down.
The first track is a Drum and Bass track, and so is the second track by Mutt. However Mutt has introduced a Hip Hop beat in the intro and the breakdown which is really helpful if and when you want to mix into Kick Push by Lupe Fiasco. Hopefully this gives you some creative inspiration to find ways to merge and mix tracks together.
- Random Movement – Thick Liquid
- Mutt – I Used To
- Lupe Fiasco – Kick Push
Electronic & Pop Rock Example Tracks to Mix
Keeping on the theme of mixing different different genres and sounds, here is a proper tangent of two tracks to mix.
Years ago I put together a mix of loads of different genres that flow well together and I somehow thought it was logical to end up play the below two tracks, an Oasis track from my favourite film ‘Snatch’ and Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats. They work quite well together as it happens.
Give them ago and practice a mix that’s completely different to your normal genre of choice. Push the boundaries and you’ll learn how to beat match different styles with an extreme example such as this.
- Oasis – Fucking In The Bushes
- Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats
5. Use EQ and LPF/HPF to Your Advantage
EQ to blend and fade out tracks
My rule of thumb that use to approach with using EQ mixing is:
- If the track has a vocal I will use the high and mid EQ to fade out the vocals to allow the new track to shine through in the mix.
- If the track I’m mixing in has a lot of low end on the kick and melody sound then I will usually cut the low enough so that there’s not a massive clash of the low end in the mix. I find this trick helpful especially when the live track is going into a breakdown and then I will use the the new track to come in with the EQ starting to turn back up again.
Use LPF/HPF switch for quick fade out transitions
The LPF/HPF switch is featured on DJ controllers, namely the DDJ-400 by Pioneer which is the DJ controller that I love to use. This switch is used a lot in EDM mixing for two reasons.
- I noticed that when DJs are playing a really catchy vocal track they can use the LPF/HPF switch to cut out the top end EQ by switch it down towards LPF and that lets the crowd sing the words of the song briefly. Listen on the below clip when Wilkinson dips the filter let the crowd sing the words to his song
- Another technique that can help is when you’re looking to do quick mixes and switch between the two tracks. Switching to LPF can dip the EQ of the sound allowing the hook of the next track to come through and you can switch the crossfader on the first beat of the drop.
6. Mix & Experiment with Different Tracks To Help Craft DJ Sets
A lot of DJs recommend to plan DJ sets in DJ software folders. This is great advice but what I don’t think is explained that well is experimenting. It seems to me the go to advice is to learn harmonic mixing and plan your DJ sets and that’s it.
Here’s my advice on creating DJ sets with a few ideas for you to get started.
- Mix, mix and mix your tracks until you get to know them inside out.
- Don’t bother creating DJ sets, simply play whatever you like, record your mix and then analyse what tracks went well together. You can always check the ‘history’ folder if you are using Rekordbox to pick out and put into a new set list folder.
- Experiment by creating DJ set lists before even mixing tracks to see if you have built up a good enough ear for your tracks Bpm, beat patterns, rhythm and key.
How do you properly mix songs?
To mix songs together, the tempo of each song must be in sync and both beats e.g. the kick drum and snare must be aligned. To achieve a seamless mix both phrases or song sections must also be aligned to allow for songs to be properly mixed together.
What equipment do you need to mix music?
Two turntables, one mixer with two-channels, a laptop and two pre-amp speakers are required to mix music together. Turntables can be in the form of CDJs, record vinyl players or a DJ controller.
What is it called when a DJ mixes two songs together?
A DJ can mix two separate songs together by beat match both songs. This allows continuous play of music for long periods of time. A DJ can also mix and instrumental with an acapella (vocal) track together which is referred to as Mashup.