Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Play (With) Music

As DJ we are supposed to play music. Serve dancers with hot dance tunes. We are supposed to handle atmosphere and the dancefloor. Part of the trade and a good DJ though is also to research. I've always liked the playful approach to learning best so what better way to learn about music than to play with music.

I like to think of these challenges as games and I want to introduce some of these games to you, and maybe you'll have fun with them. In any case, they will contribute to you learning a lot about your music, which I think is one of they keys to good dj-ing.

Basicly, chosing the next song is always about connecting to the one before. Doing it by style or speed is fairly easy. But what about connecting songs by:
  • themes
  Play songs that all have the same theme like love, sex, drug, food, songs about dancing or war etc.
  Example: Big Apple Contest and Black Bottom (songs about dancing)
  • titles
  Play songs that have a theme in common in the title (ignore content of lyrics) 
  Example: Big Apple and I like Pie, I like Cake (food)
  • musicians that played together at some point:
  The following song has a musician that played with the musician before
  Example: Fletcher Henderson and Don Redman
Those are all fairly easy challenges. Some have even already been released as compilations. The ones that are more challenging and require you to research. Connect songs by
  • alphabet
  Do an alphabet with titles, artists, women names, etc.
  • same musician
  The following song has a musician that played in the song before.
  Example: Recording of Luis Russell's Hot Six - 29th & Dearborn - and Showboat Shuffle by King Oliver's Jazz Band (Barney Bigard)
  • record label
  Only play records that were recorded on a specific label, like Decca, Vocalion, Brunswick, etc.
  Example: What Goes Up Must Come Down by Count Basie and Roy Eldridge's Wabash Stomp
  • rare instruments or themes:
  Play songs that all use a rare instrument or idea, e.g. harmonica
  • location:
  Play only songs by bands that played in the Savoy Ballroom, Roseland Ballroom, etc.
  Example: Luis Russel and Jimmie Lunceford  (Savoy Ballroom)
  • date of recording
  Only play songs that were recorded in one specific year, or chronologically
  Example: Ella Fitzgerald - Whacky Dust and Tommy Dorsey and His Clambake 7 - You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby (1938)
  • by country (except USA - too easy)
  Only play bands from a specific country, e.g. only France, Germany, Netherlands
  Example: Kristian Hauger, Rowland Greenberg, etc. (Norway)
  • by city
  Only play songs by bands that resided in one city.
  Example: The State Street Ramblers - Kentucky Blues and Louis Armstrong - Weather Bird(Were both recorded in Chicago)

If you do these challenges and come up with new ones, you will gain a lot of knowledge about your music and the musicians that made it.

Challenge: Make a small set of 5 to 10 songs that are connected in some way described in the second section or come up with an own challenge. Then write down the link between each song, and send it to me. I'll publish it on this blog. Also include your DJ name and where you are located. Looking very forward to your send-ins! :)

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