Why Should A DJ Count Beats & Bars ?
This is a technique that most beginner DJs are either missing or doing it wrong.
Every dance song, especially in genres like house and trance has a certain musical structure. It is built with groups of beats which also form bars and phrases.
DJ’ing requires using this counting method in order to create professional mixes and making transitions that sound good.
Once you start mixing by counting beats in a track, you will realize your
mixing skills improve dramatically.
I can hear you saying ” How is it done ? “. Let me explain what beats and bars mean for DJs.
A beat is the kick defining the tempo of the song. 4 beats come together and are called a ” Bar “. When you put 8 of these bars, then you get a ” Phrase “.
There are tracks with an intro, sometimes with no kick in it. They may also end without any kicks, or we should say “beats”. Your counting always begins with the first major beat in the track.
Pick a song and do a test counting like “1,2,3,4” starting from the first beat and follow the song. You will hear new elements coming in, some disappear, vocals show up and so on. All these will happen right after the 8th bar which is called a ” Phrase “.
This means after 32 beats into the song, you always hear changes and it repeats at every 32. There might be exceptions though. But this is the general structure of dance music.
So, why do we count ? Good question. Counting beats and bars is solely for avoiding any possible clashes of vocals or other elements in both tracks while transitioning.
As a DJ, keep in mind that your audience will not like hearing vocals of two different songs mixed up. It sounds bad and kills the vibe. Therefore, continuous counting of beats and bars is essential in order to know when you should mix into the next song.
On the other hand, a good DJ knows all tracks he’s playing, when they go high, slow down, where the gaps are and so on. This also helps you maintaining professional mixes with least unpleasant surprises at your performance.
So, get used to counting. After a while, you’ll do that without knowing it. Always start mixing into the next song at the beginning of a phrase (8 x 4 beats).
You can learn counting beats and bars, also other professional DJ mixing techniques in detail with online DJ courses.