Monday, 13 July 2015
12:37 am
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Posted by: Fluteboy
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On the road again

Tomorrow and Wednesday night I will be doing a quiz night at two venues nearby. These are the first bookings for my new disco roadshow outfit. September will see me host a karaoke night, and there are also a couple of weddings in the bag.

DJ'ing has changed radically over the years. This is primarily down to evolving technology. Naturally some people (mainly DJ's) will bemoan the over-simplification of their precious "craft". I remember when in 1996-97 I made the switch from vinyl to CD. The reasons for doing so were blatantly simple:
  • All music, past and present, was readily available on CD, and vinyl was now nothing more than a format being kept alive by audiophiles and DJ's.
  • CD's were a damn sight more portable than vinyl. A mere fistful of carefully chosen CD's could easily see you through the night successfully. A case of vinyl records however, was much bigger and a slight (!) heavier.
Naturally some snobs stepped forth and sneered: "Where's yer decks?" I would point at the thoroughly reliable Denon twin CD player with control panel and retort: "What are you talking about?" "No, record decks?" came the reply! Bearing in mind that 1996 was the year when the last Now That's What I Call Music compilation came out on vinyl (Now 35, in case you wonder) - a true indicator that vinyl was now effectively dead. Some people just could not begin to accept that you could DJ without vinyl - that you were not a proper DJ unless you were spinning actual wheels of steel. Like there was some kind of image that needed maintaining.

To be totally frank, the listening public couldn't give a rat's anus what equipment you use. You could successfully do a show armed with two tape Walkman's, one of those little four-channel mic mixers, and domestic amplifier and speakers. As long as the music is there, and you deliver it in a competent manner, the audience couldn't give a fig.

Now we see DJ's plying their trade, armed with laptops. The reasons for doing this are glaringly obvious:
  • All music, past and present, is readily available for download in mp3 format, and CD's can be easily ripped to your hard drive.
  • Any music that just so happens to be unavailable on CD or download can be lifted from vinyl or tape, cleaned up, and plonked on your hard drive. Everything in one place, at the press of a few keys.
  • Laptops are beyond portable, and continue to get smaller, cheaper and more powerful.
Unfortunately this has led to new brand of snobbery (you may choose to call it "passion", but I will not be putting a doyley on it), with those self-important DJ's bemoaning the notion that anyone can get on board now. The "sync" button also happens to get some DJ's riled too. The following video seems get a lot of people's goats - an autistic chap worryingly titled DJ Semen, stood behind a laptop while commanding the crowd by waving and gesticulating, then throwing glitter into the audience!

While I employ the laptop (you would be a fool not to), I do maintain full CD backup at the same time. You just never know if or when that laptop will decide to crash or lock, requiring the beloved reboot that is known the world over. This is where ye olde CD comes back in, saving the day! Why abandon the CD? It's way too early for that. Solid state storage is not 100% reliable.

Also, this miniaturisation of the DJ outfit is not always a good thing, as the next video will amply demonstrate. Sometimes you need that bit of weight to protect you against the more vacuous element of society:

Overenthusiastic dancer gets flattened after he knocks the DJ booth down

For me there is no substitute for a good flight case with a traditional 19" mixer. Some things just cannot be let go of when it comes to proper control of your output. The laptop may be the great provider of music these days, but in terms of size, it is merely garnish. It looks pretty as it sits there, but you'd be pretty lost without it!

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