How To Mix A Song – The Art And Science Of Mixing

Using DJ art and science to create a stellar mix!

how to mix a song

Back when you first had dreams of DJing gigs in front of large crowds of partygoers you probably dreamt of mixing your own tracks and rising to DJ stardom. Mixing songs is at the heart of learning to DJ for most of us, which is why it is so important to learn the art and science of becoming a DJ.

The same is true when it comes to mixing. There are some hard and fast features that must be taken care of when you begin to mix a song but there are also some aspects where your creative license takes control. Today we’re going to talk about how to mix a song using the art and adhering to the science of mixing a song.

The Art

The art of learning how to mix a song begins with the art. Of course some DJs will tell you that you need to know the nuts and bolts of mixing a song first, but the art is where the real decision making occurs and is likely to take up most of your time.

Song style is an important decision when you first begin mixing. The style of the songs you choose to mix must blend together well. This means you want to stay away from mixing styles that don’t work well together, including song genres and speed. Mixing a ballad with an upbeat track with heavy instruments may not be the best idea.

Tempo is another artistic decision you will have to make and learn in order to mix a song properly. I know that there is equipment and software that allows you to adjust the tempo without changing the song tone, but in general you should make sure the tracks you mix differ by no more than three beats per minute (BPM).

Song version is an important part of learning how to mix a song. It is best that you choose the extended or ‘club’ version of the song. This is usually the unedited, long version of the song rather than the shortened radio edit. The extended version usually has an intro and outro so you can make a smooth transition rather than abrupt changes that don’t flow well. This will make for a seamless mix.

This is the art part of learning how to mix a song. But this will help you map out a mix before you get started so you have some direction when you actually begin mixing.

how to mix a song

The Science

With all the DJ equipment out there, of course there is a certain amount of ‘science’ to mixing a song. But it is about more than just equipment, it is also about the elements that make up a song.

Learning the science will take some time, which is why it is so important to know the art first so you can figure out through trial and error how to implement the science of mixing a song.

Software or hardware is a decision you will have to make before you begin mixing. Often referred to as ‘in the box’ or ‘out of the box’, this simply means using a computer program to mix (in the box) or using a mixing board and outboard (out of the box) to mix a song.

If you’re just learning how to DJ chances are good that you’re mixing in the box, but as your skill grows you may want to explore out of the box mixing as well.

In stereo versus mono recordings make a huge difference in your mixes. Mixing in stereo simply refers to the sound coming through both headphones compared to mono recordings which often lack the depth and clarity of a really good mix. Since you will likely use software to help you learn to mix a song, you will most certainly mix in stereo.

You will want to make sure however, that your mix has what is known as mono capability. Keep this in mind as you create mixes with the thought (and hope and dream) that your mix one day makes it on the radio!

Figuring out your cue point, or when you will begin mixing the songs will require you to listen to the songs a few times. This is why mapping the art is as important as the science, so you have an idea where the mix is going. Figuring out your cue points will come in handy if and when you decide to start mixing in front of a crowd.

Finally you will have to figure out how to blend the instruments together. Particularly you will have to figure out what to do with the drums, guitar, bass and vocals. These are the four most important aspects of most songs and you will need to figure out whether to double the guitar, from which perspective to mix the drums and centering the bass and vocals.

Work on these elements as you continue to learn how to mix a song. It will take some practice to become a great mix artist, but this is an essential element to learning how to DJ. 

I hope I helped you learn how to DJ and how to mix a song. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey!

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