Sarah Ovenall (sarah_ovenall) wrote,
Sarah Ovenall

i am a dj, i am what i play

So, I got hired to DJ a wedding this fall. !!!

It sounds like a great gig. The client is a listener of my show, who wants me to play Divaville Lounge music ("from Tin Pan Alley to the swing era") at the event. The venue is a fun place, I got plenty of notice, and best of all I'll earn enough that I can afford all the equipment I'll need. Which is:

--a big hard drive so I can digitize all my music
--mixing software and a controller, which will let me cue up tracks and fade from one to the next on my computer
--a sound card with multiple outputs so I can play one track through the speakers, and preview another on headphones at the same time
--various cables

I already have good headphones and a laptop, and the venue will provide the amp and speakers. I bought the controller and sound card from a fellow WXDUer who also works as a club DJ. Here's a photo of him showing me how to use them:
Learning how to DJ!

It's a Numark Stealth Controller for those who are keeping track. I ordered the software (Traktor Duo) and while I wait for it to arrive I'm working on digitizing music. It's tedious, but fairly easy to move along while doing other things: just go over to the computer every few minutes and stick another CD in.

I also did some googling for tips on how to be a wedding DJ. I found much more on how to hire a wedding DJ, which is also useful just to see what clients typically expect of a DJ. But I did find one good page for DJs with a couple of invaluable tips:

1. A wedding is not your opportunity to show off your hip taste in music. Put away all your obscure cool tracks and get used to playing Top 40 for a few hours.

The part about Top 40 doesn't apply to me since I've been asked to play Divaville Lounge music, but otherwise I had pretty much guessed this. At a wedding people want to dance and be happy and hear songs they know and love. They don't want to be figuring out music they've never heard before. The night I was offered the job, I said to Georg "At WXDU our mission is to educate and entertain. At this event my mission will be to entertain."

2. Don't ever play a fast song and then a slightly less fast song. This will make people feel sluggish. Each song should be slightly faster than the one before, until you get to something really fast. Then switch to a slow song, and start gradually building up tempo again. That will make them feel energized.

I would never have thought of that on my own, but it makes perfect sense. By "stair-stepping" up the tempo you can build excitement, get people dancing faster with each song, then drop back to a slow song to give them a break. Then start all over again!

I had been thinking that the beat-matching functionality in Traktor would be wasted on me, since I obviously won't be syncing the tempo of jazz standards. But it will turn out to be useful since it shows the BPM of every track. I can use that to make sure the segues have good flow.

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