PHONO

Future DJ: A Brief History

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When Thomas Edison introduced the phonograph to the world, I doubt anyone could have foreseen what a ground-breaking invention it would prove to be or what legacy it would spawn. Just like VHS vs Betamax or HD-DVD vs BluRay, a format war emerged; the cylindrical disc used on Edison’s machine against the German Emile Berliner’s format, a gramophone disc sometimes referred to as a phonograph disc or, as it is more commonly called, a record. Although Edison’s phonograph cylinder was both a storage and a playback medium (when using wax cylinders) as opposed to the disc’s mere playback ability, the record eventually won out in the late 1920s. We still, however, pay homage to both machines in the modern DJ world with the “phono” inputs on our mixers, and of course every musician wants an HMV-style gramophone in the guise of the prestigious Grammy award! Lets take a look back through time in order to understand where things might be headed.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DJ

There was a novel buzz about popular music in the 1930s, and it was in 1935 that Walter Winchell, a commentator and early gossip columnist, introduced the term ‘Disc Jockey’ – a label referring to the radio announcers who were playing music discs between their news and discussion broadcasts. This type of program quickly became the economic basis of many radio stations. These Disc Jockeys (DJs) also played at functions and performed like a human jukebox whilst acting as a master of ceremonies with dialogue between records until the ‘40s, when British DJ Jimmy Savile claims he was the first to use two turntables to facilitate continuous music play. Uninterrupted music flow was the first step towards the job that comes to mind today when we hear the term ‘DJ’, and in the following years nightclubs with discotheques sprung up all over the world.

The material the records were made from changed from shellac to vinyl yet the disc format remains unchanged; this medium from the turn of the last century is still going strong!  All through the constant use of the record in the second half of the last century, new performance styles appeared as DJs matched tempos, started at cue points, slip-drop cued and scratched.  It is amazing to think now that it was in 1972 that a division of Matsushita called Technics released a record player you may well have heard of, the SL 1200. Although it was actually marketed as a Hi-Fi turntable, due to it’s +/- 8% pitch and strong direct-drive motor it soon became the must-have tool for the new wave. Armed with the SL 1200 and cutting edge techniques, “turntablists”  appeared and would continue for the next 35 odd years!!!

The SL 1200 would go through many revisions in this time, the longest running and most common model being the MK II. It was only when Pioneer launched their CDJ 1000 that a suitable alternative to the turntable for the DJ became a realistic option.

THE CLEAR AND PRESENT…

The CDJ 1000 is still de rigueur with most venues around the globe, but we have reached another milestone as a new type of DJ system, the computer DJ set-up, landed on our planet not so long ago. These are able to support many software platforms and each play various file types from mp3 to WAV to FLAC to AAC. The mp3 dates back to the 90s and its compressed size made it easy to store and quickly transfer files over the ‘Net or e-mail. Digital files were a technological step forward yet at the same time marked a step backwards in terms of fidelity. None-the-less, consumers accepted the wow factor of the “want it right now” mentality at the expense of quality. Fortunately, as internet bandwidth has icnreased dramatically so has the standard mp3 quality. Its now common to find a club playable file almost anywhere.

Due to the explosion in mp3 usage, software companies jumped on the opportunity of using these files in a environment where they could be manipulated and mixed in a hardware free manner. Although fine for mobile style djing due to the sheer amount of music they could have at their disposal, the mouse and keyboard driven software did not catch on well with the masses.

Final scratch appeared in 2002 and by using a time-code record it allowed the user to manipulate digital audio from the computer directly on the oh-so-familiar turntable. However, in the same way as the CD’s first arrival, the software was a little clunky and hit/miss at best. After years of development and slow market adoption we now have 2 market leaders in the DVS department (digital vinyl control system): Serato’s Scratch and Native Instrument’s Traktor. These mature programs at last provided the feel and response that DJs wanted, combined with the flexibility of the software effectively sealing the deal on the newest industry standard.

FLASH FORWARD

Today, we may be seeing an emerging trend in djing that is gently moving away from the iconic phonographic circle that has been with us for so long.  Many performers seem to be leaving traditional interfaces like turntables and CDJs behind in favor of high performance controllers that can be manipulated and controlled like musical instruments. Software now enables almost unlimited creative control over music allowing djs today to completely de-construct and re-image songs live.

These are things you simply cannot do in the same way with just a pair of CDs / turntables and mixer…  Hyper London DJ Phil Drummond once said to me, “I’ve been mixing on 1200‘s for over 20 years, nothing to prove there. Now with Traktor I sometimes CHOOSE not to and to concentrate on something else far more interesting instead!” I’m sure you all saw the video posted here recently of five- time DMC World Champion DJ Craze impressively showing just what can be achieved with the vinyl control, effects and a few controllers. Our own Ean Golden has demonstrated superlative and inspirational skills with control surfaces many times in his quest to use and inspire others to work with software as a true musical instrument.

Without a new industry standard defined in this space, we are still in the golden age of controllers and controllerism where options abound but quality may not always prevail. This forces many to cobble together a mish mash of technolgy that suits their needs. A turntable here, a controller there, a few mixers and a random FX unit all get brought together to create a unique presentation. Companies like NI are attempting to define the next standard with all in one Software/Hardware combinations like the s4 but the jury is still out as to whether thats the road this industry will take in the long run.

TIME TO DUST OFF THE CRYSTAL BALL…

So, what’s next? Looking at the trends right now, it would seem that there are certainly exciting times ahead! Now that a majority of music is in a computer-readable format, it is clear that physical media is out. As the Internet becomes quicker and storage cheaper, we can have our large uncompressed files in less time than making a good cup of coffee with promises that is will soon be instantaneous.

The software heart of our systems is advancing at a great rate and as new and exciting concepts are being developed every month. I personally believe that technology found in Melodyne’s polyphonic analysis will soon become common place, allowing the user to strip elements out of a complete track in real time, creating mind blowing live remixes of any material.

The most visual aspect – and perhaps the most exciting – is how we control our software. We are seeing an emergence of interest in touch technology. Ipad djing and large touch sensitive tables all offer a glimpse into what the future may hold. While these technologies hold promise, they have failed to really gain momentum yet. Could that be because they only 2 dimensions?  In the 80s Jean-Michel Jarre was triggering MIDI with a pair of white gloves over an array of laser beams. I therefore propose a new type of interface medium, a different type of screen, a screen technology that is in 3 dimensions and works on motion, hand manipulation and touch. Yes, a true “Minority Report” type system. Science fiction from a movie? I think not. Have a peep at this and decide for yourself:

Additional Reading on Dj History:

The Drums that last forever

HISTORY of DVS @ CDM

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  • PDE

    Looking back at the article now, we couldn’t have imagined the boom in high quality controllers coming to the market. Not quite at the laser solution yet but who knows what might happen in 10 years time!

    Not sure if DJs would want to relate themselves to Jimmy Saville anymore though…

  • dj acid-headcracker

    what do you call the thing whith the 2 whells and cd ports on im a future dj only 11

  • WooDz

    I don’t like touch screens. That’s a broad statement which needs defining.
    The brilliance of a GUI is that you’re only limited by the size of the screen itself. No physical hardware can match or surpass a touch sensitive pad. When we consider that nearly 80% of all the information we receive is through our sense of vision, it’s easy to understand that interaction with a touch sensitive device makes perfect sense; proving that you only have to concentrate solely on the device. A good example of why touch screens don’t work is trying to do something on your car’s touchscreen whilst driving. Even the most basic functions detract you from you main goal which is making sure you don’t crash. Take changing the temperature for example. Before you knew roughly where the buttons were on the console. You could feel which one was + and – and push the right one without having to take your eyes off the road. In these new touchscreen systems you have to select the climate management system then select the appropriate button on the screen. It may take about the same time but you have to physically take you eyes of the road multiple times whilst making sure you’re pushing the right button on the screen.

    The same applies in a DJ environment and it’s a touchpad’s biggest problem.

    99% of the readers here are not in a position where they just need to play a cemented set of tracks where they can fully concentrate on where their hands are. For the rest of us we need to load new tracks, read the crowd, think about what we’re playing in 3 or 4 songs time. Pull up ‘Mixed on key’ find our next harmonic mixes, Add effects,Loops, make sure we hit the right point to mix in/out and at the same time; the most important bit of all, Interact with the crowd and get the energy bouncing back and forth between crowd and you the ‘puppet-master’ so to speak.

    Using something that eliminates your sense of feel makes for a very challenging experience. Even something so simple as pushing the play button. At the moment we can rest our finger on or next to the button and press at precisely the right point on a touch screen you can’t. It doesn’t mean we won’t see a DJ producer moving to a full touch screen solution in the future and I’d expect the first DJ/Producer to adopt full GUI-devices will be Deadmau5 but this will be a unique application costing thousands of Dollars. Developing something for the mass-market is a completely different ball game. The first hurdle will be who can benefit from it and are they ready to accept it. We can talk of a multiple ipad setup to reduce costs but the facts remain that all the time you have to concentrate on where your hands are and what they are doing stops you from doing any other task.
    I love the controllerism experience so I’m not scared to embrace modern technology but I feel a DJ will always require an element of physical interaction with the music they are playing. It may explain why we still have traditional turntablist and let’s hope that remains for many years to come.

  • DJ Master P

    So now I get to gently clap Kelly Rowlands beeehind, while mixen videos. COOL ;-)

  • Marvelous Mixin Miguel

    Technology will change the way djs will mix in the future. This is going to happen every 10 to 20 years as technology improves. From turntables to cd to software mixing.

    I know that there are some hardcore djs out there that say they will only mix on turntables but the reality is that turntables are seen less at night clubs and private parties. Turntables were replaced by CDJ. And some of those hardcore turntables DJ left there tables behind to play on CDJ. I myself don’t care for the cdj I prefer the turntables.

    As technology evolves something will replace CDJ. I believe midi controllers have a great chance of replacing CDJ. Some DJ will never accept this but the younger djs that grew up with computers, internet, MP3 & software mixing programs will most likely prefer new technology over old methods of mixing. The young djs using this technology will accelerate and be skilled djs manipulating the sound that will blow peoples breath away.

    At the end it all about the music not the hardware used to play the music. If you bad at mixing you’re just bad and hardware will not make you a better dj.

  • Simon

    I think online sets will become a commonplace thing. Rather than have 1 dj for the night, you will have a selection from a multiple of clubs djing over video link from other clubs. So you will end up with a variety of Dj’s djing multiple clubs. Imagine 4 clubs all having the same DJ line up but in a different order, completing for your attention. Bliss

  • http://neonblack.bandcamp.com Jason Torres

    I don’t know if anyone has referenced the TED talk on interface, but it has really inspired me to think about we as musicians/DJs?producers interact with our instruments and our software.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/john_underkoffler_drive_3d_data_with_a_gesture.html

    I also think that the future is more promising for multiple DJ setups, since everyone can sync via MIDI. The Minus Records people did this a bit for their Contakt tour. You can also look at James Zabiela and Nic Fanciulli’s stuff, along with Booka Shade and Glitch Mob. Group DJing is the future.

  • timbatec

    Copied from teifschwarz’s interview

    July 17th, 2010 at 6:35 pm
    Quote

    Woow, awesome interview, great comments . . . its really hard to comment about this but, don’t you think the people and the club owners will get mad when some dj will arrive on the stage with 2 usb flashes from 20$ and ask for 10 000$ at the end like Armin Van Buuren? NO WAY to buy a ticket anymore for dj’s like this!!! That sucks and I think no one in future will pay those dj’s. OK there are a lot dj’s using digital like Richie, Chris Liebing etc but they are using at least 2 expensive midi controller and play on 4 decks with 2 laptops one for traktor other for ableton and ofcourse they are using timecode vinyls and make awesome parties. I saw Armin, came with 2 cd’s (mp3) and sd cards for the cues and he was jumping like monkey all the night . . . and tiefschwarz, you were using turntables when you were building a name, now you dont give a shit you are there only to pick up the cream, thats sad, but at the end all djs like this will gone, the vinyl will reborn! huh I have so many thing to say about and honestly even my grandma can play on those cdj’s and dj’s if you want to go digitaly, go live take your hardware and do it like it should be! cds for listeners, vinyls for djs, it is the soul of djing . . .

  • Karlos Santos

    LOL at DJs squabbling about the History of DJing.
    Jimmy Saville Rules.

  • chriscosour

    Thanks for the article! Its distressing to see so many non-constructive comments in out little djtt community and i thank ean for announcing the new upcoming comment policy!

    Also +1 to the guys that mentioned “Last night a dj saved my life: History of the dj”

    This book is an incredible testament to the communities that form and will continue to form around our beloved EDM, and we are continuing the legacy here at djtt.

    Props~

  • 5aint

    [quote comment="36210"]Yea the new technology is cool, altho i’m working on some stuff right now, it is far from done, trying to create a 3d video set with my new flat screen tv, its coming along but far from done, its a very cool concept for clubs of the future to potentially hav 3d images flying around, everyone wud hav to wear glasses but it cud still be awesome[/quote]

    Sounds cool Frank! It’s thought and experiment like this that leads forward!!

    Don’t worry about the glasses thing ‘tho, soon to be a thing of the past and whilst searching for the manufacturer working on something I had been informed of a couple of months back (my mind is failing today) I just found this posted 2 hours ago… http://entertainment.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978469016

  • Frank Morse

    Yea the new technology is cool, altho i’m working on some stuff right now, it is far from done, trying to create a 3d video set with my new flat screen tv, its coming along but far from done, its a very cool concept for clubs of the future to potentially hav 3d images flying around, everyone wud hav to wear glasses but it cud still be awesome

  • Virtual Unknown

    [quote post="6865"]I like where the industry is headed in regard to midi dj controllers but one of the reasons I still use my turntables with Serato is because I can speed up or slow down the platter when I beatmix (I love to beatmix!)[/quote]

    Companies(Serato, Traktor, etc) could have easily bypassed turntable emulation in favor of midi controllers but would have run the risk of alienating the entrenched DJ’s who have been rocking turntables for years. This way the established djs could try the new technology and realize how seamless it was and could then progress towards new things……

  • DJ R3 Bonaire

    Thanks EAN for the NEW Comment Policy, It is a shame that such measures are needed on a nice and very valuable blog….
    I Truely can’t understand the fact why there are DJ’s who will not accept new technology if that’s other peoples choice. In the end 70′s i played with a TEAC A4010 Spool Tape Recorders and played with 1200′s in the 80′s, later cd’s on the first Denon and later CDJ’s than Traktor and now Ableton. If i get fed-up i switch back to CDJ’s. Or time code them in Traktor. But every different time it gives me a new creation….
    I wish i still had 2 TEAC’s, i made a variable voltage control on the engine to pitch up or down and was copy and glue-ing tapes together to make loops and phase shifts. I Cue’d the spools where i wanted by hand and had some how 4-5 loops to mix in the bpm, Key was no option… Believe me that the new technology makes this a lot easier. no i will never go back but can certainly appreciate any 1200 DJ who still uses them. If you play great and are able to entertain a crowd go for it, but please have respect for other DJ’s too…..
    and specially on a nice site like this.

  • http://vimeo.com/13759610 Barghy

    Much better example ;) http://vimeo.com/13759610

  • Mark

    Haha, ean’s right i read a few of the comments yesterday, and altho some were entertaining, many were just stupid and uncalled for.. Great article!

  • DJ Doc Martin – WBLS FM

    Things to make you go hmmmm! It’s quite evident,(unless you haven’t been paying attention to your local record store closing – R.I.P. Phat Beats – NYC)that physical media formats are audio dinosaurs (good, save your precious vinyl!)and computer-based formats are in. I don’t want to have to convert my music library again any time soon so I hope the MP3 standard sticks around for awhile. As far as hardware, my preferences are compact, durable and affordable units that I won’t have to upgrade in less than five years. I like where the industry is headed in regard to midi dj controllers but one of the reasons I still use my turntables with Serato is because I can speed up or slow down the platter when I beatmix (I love to beatmix!) So touch sensitive controllers are my preference. (Looking for a number to choose from that use Serato (Itch) software other the Stanton VCI-300) As far as where we’re going in the club in the future, I don’t know if video will be as wide spread as the manufacturers are pushing. Club owners still balk at the addition costs and patrons are either not demanding it or empathetic. The “Minority Report” interactive touch screens may make it to commercial use (it’s already being featured on TV’s “NCIS-Los Angeles”)but I don’t see a lot of DJs messing with it. In conclusion, now is definitely a good time to be a DJ or VJ! Stay tuned.

  • duerr

    although there were some nice parts, personally i think the subject matter of the article may have been a bit too ambitious for the format; which understandably resulted in a lot of important information being glossed over.

    there have been discussions about the future of djing on the forums and i’ve shared my opinion – but to reitirate my views i believe the future of dj technology is with the software, not so much the controllers. it already seems like controllers are starting to plateau, with minor developments here and there to fuel the market – but nothing truly mind blowing.

    in contrast, the software that is the heart of controller djing still hasn’t come anywhere close to hitting the ceiling with development – there is still so much more room to grow. djs who feel limited by the software are forced to use combinations of softwares to acheive results they’re looking for. Traktor DJs have to use Bomes and Ableton in conjunction if they want to do more advanced performances, when it would make so much more sense to have an all-in-one solution.

  • http://www.eangolden.com Ean Golden

    [quote comment="36174"]Thanks for again a nice article…
    Most happy i am that for the past 3 articles there were no Bad and nasty comments against each other or DJTT. As EAN said Comments and suggestions are welcome.
    Keep it going nice like this.[/quote]

    Just as you said that.. things started to go south. Growing pains :(

    ____

    For the record here is my new comment policy on the blog.

    __
    *If you post hateful comments under an anonymous name that will only inflame the dialogue and not contribute to the conversation then your comment WILL be deleted.*
    __
    I am all for free speech and constructive criticism. We value feedback above all else however for the good of this site, we have to keep things welcoming and cool.
    __
    Any day now I will implement a you-tube style comment manager so this will all become self regulating- WOOP WOOP!

  • wikkid1

    decent article, i found the beginning pretty interesting, the history that goes back further then 1980s.

    regarding the melodyne product… its a very interesting idea, and its functional to an extent, but something like separating vocals from a full track is still not possible, even with melodynes’ program. its actually very similar to a few other programs (Photosounder, Sonic Visualiser) that display sound as a picture which can be edited to remove or sharpen or otherwise modify selected frequencies, and then play the new ‘image’ back.

    very interesting in concept, but not efficient in practice. at least not at this time, the same way as touchscreen interfaces.

  • Amadan

    Excellent article! I’m hoping that part of the future will be technology which rips out parts of a track and allows you to remix tracks on the fly. Try doing that with your turntables!

    I don’t understand why the tech haters turn up here to post. They need to remember many of the guys here who love technology use to dj with turntables. (i did but like my new tech stuff way better)

  • http://www.nem0nic.com/blog nem0nic

    [quote comment="36175"]I’m sorry, but this article is a waste of time…I’ll continue to use my technics, as I always have. thats the future for me. definitely the most fun you can have DJing, being a real instrument and not a toy.[/quote]
    No offense, but you sound like an idiot. When have you ever contributed something to the common good, well known or otherwise? As far as touch screens being “gay” (really, are you 15?), If gay means being able to put several times more control in the same size surface without sacrificing ergonomics by cramming a ton of buttons and knobs together into a godawful mess, AND having ALL of those multiple pages of controls be completely synchronized with the software you’re controlling (not possible with a traditional interface unless it’s ALL motorized), then “gay” sounds pretty good. Of course there are some things that touchscreens aren’t good at (tactile feedback being one of them), but there are also things that they are MUCH better at than physical controls (like the possibility of modality and control context). And they are only going to get more common in DJing as we figure out where/how they’re best used. I can see in the short term touchscreen elements being incorporated into things like mixers to add user configurable MIDI control elements. Long term, when haptics are perfected, I see much more.I don’t think a fully touchscreen interface is going to turn into the norm, but it will be a compelling option for people who want to go in that direction.

    As for your technics, better hold on to them because they’re finished. And while users (like the ones in this community) embrace new technology and incorporate it into their setups to transition from just boring music playback to live music production, you’ll be rocking out throwback nights at the local VFW with your circa 1989 nickname and your played out AHHH FREEEESHH sample scratching.

  • kru-kut

    I’m sorry, but this article is a waste of time. Thanks for stating the obvious. I’m usually a fan of DJTT’s articles, as I can always learn something from them, but i feel like this is common knowledge and something you guys have been talking about for a while now.

    oh and touch screens are gay. at least use physical knobs and buttons. I’ll continue to use my technics, as I always have. thats the future for me. definitely the most fun you can have DJing, being a real instrument and not a toy.

  • DJ R3 Bonaire

    Thanks for again a nice article…
    Most happy i am that for the past 3 articles there were no Bad and nasty comments against each other or DJTT. As EAN said Comments and suggestions are welcome.
    Keep it going nice like this.

  • Trump

    I LOVE this article. Just like understanding your family’s geneology, I think it’s important for us to all have at least a beginner’s background of where the hobby/career/love of ours we have all grown so fond of comes from. In terms of the future:

    [quote comment="36128"]That is pretty cool stuff, although I think we can both agree that the interface has to be mature enough before anyone will write software to enable it to be useful to DJ’s…

    Unless we have some programmers on DJ Techtools who are also UI Interface experts :)[/quote]

    I think Kaek caught my biggest qualm pretty straight out the gate. We all talk so much about being able to fit as much control (buttons, encoders, knobs, etc) into our physical space as possible, and I can see this becoming an issue. Outside of the processing ability hurdle, this will take some seriously robust programming on the tech end and a LOT of acclimation on the user end. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hella optimistic about these possibilities, but damn…..

  • Bucky

    Well-written interesting article. I agree with your natural evolution of DJ technology. But we will see at what pace? Serato is still the club standard.

  • http://www.bow-tanic.de DJ BOW-tanic

    [quote comment="36164"][quote comment="36162"]
    Too many DJs have falling so deeply in love with the idea of “two turntables and a mixer” that they’ve forgotten or failed to see the real art in this culture. It’s about taking technology and the past, and utilizing it to entertain a dancefloor. I like how this new age of computers is bringing that thinking back.[/quote]

    Can I get an AMEN for brother D-jam!!![/quote]

    AMEN!!!

  • Chris Jennings

    [quote comment="36162"]
    Too many DJs have falling so deeply in love with the idea of “two turntables and a mixer” that they’ve forgotten or failed to see the real art in this culture. It’s about taking technology and the past, and utilizing it to entertain a dancefloor. I like how this new age of computers is bringing that thinking back.[/quote]

    Can I get an AMEN for brother D-jam!!!

  • mpetersen3

    Nice article, you might mention that this technology is known as augmented reality. AR is going to change the way we compute with the world in a major way in the next few years, and I think it can have a strong effect on djing. Right now the technology exists to create an AR app for djing that is very capable using interfaces like PD or Max and the object tracking protocols in reacTIVision (or similar ones). Also the fact that Microsoft is doing AR for project Natal will mean that the technology is going to be refined well over the next several years. It certainly is an exciting time.

  • http://www.d-jam.com D-Jam

    I think one thing many DJs need to bear in mind is that DJs of the past were not limiting themselves to just a pair of decks and a mixer. I’ve seen guys in the past show up with drum machines and even a reel-to-reel with homemade stuff.

    Back in the early 90s, C+C Music Factory would do club shows with a keyboard and the DJ setup. I’m not talking about some live show with their anthems being performed, but more David Cole spinning house music and Robert Clivilies using the keyboard to play samples and rifts to the music.

    Farley Jackmaster Funk would use a drum machine with his set. DJ Armando (100% of Dissin’ U, Land of Confusion) would bring a reel-to-reel. You even see the fictional DJ Double K in the movie Beat Street and he’s using loads of different gear in his setup.

    Too many DJs have falling so deeply in love with the idea of “two turntables and a mixer” that they’ve forgotten or failed to see the real art in this culture. It’s about taking technology and the past, and utilizing it to entertain a dancefloor. I like how this new age of computers is bringing that thinking back.

  • http://www.ilektron.com Mudo

    Future is Degrowth.

  • 5aint

    Hi guys, Thanks for the comments :)

    Unfortunately we were really constrained on length for this issue; We ended up with an article that was, simply, far to long for web publication.

    We looked into the turntablists and even other formats etc and were bouncing the idea of splitting the article into a three part publication, but, due to the new videos on modern tech floating about and trying to keep very current for you guys, we opted to go for the serious edit and “get it out there”. If anyone-one is interested in reading more of the expanded writing I can gladly mail a pdf of the more expanded article if you drop me a line :)

    Cheers,
    5t.

    Great point about the tape based systems for the continuous play and I myself would love to check out the book, time to track a copy down…

    • TenBensons

      Hi 5aint, I was wondering if you still had the expanded article? Im writing a University essay that is looking at what it means to be a DJ today and i would like to use the expanded article as part of my research. 

      Thanks

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=856205342 Jim Payne

      Hi 5aint,
      Nice article, but do you still have the expanded PDF? Im doing a university essay that is looking at what it means/takes to be a DJ in these here modern times ;) and was hoping to use the expanded version as part of my research.ThanksJim

  • Nebouxii

    [quote comment="36135"]Been playing music for +10 years. Vinyls, cds, computer & controllers. I still believe that been connected with the audience is the key to success. Keep your eyes on a screen is not what people expect from a dj, and the beauty of turntables or cdjs remain on top of other tecnologies by far. But of course, this is my opinion.[/quote]
    The only thing that people are expecting is them having a good time.
    I don’t think they care about whether you’re staring at a screen rather than a set of TTs/CDJs. Neither should you, but that’s just my opinion.

    [quote comment="36154"]The problem is that anybody with 100dollars & some computer skills can be a dj.(and yes anybody) just look up dj on YouTube…hey you might see me in there with my ion discover.[/quote]
    It isn’t because you spend a 1000 dollars, euros or whatever on your gear that you become a good DJ, in exactly the opposite way you can conclude that spending less on gear doesn’t make you a worse one. If you are scared that a 12 year old kid with 100 dollars and no skill whatsoever might be a better DJ, using a cheap-ass midi controller, than you are, using vinyls or CDs, then you should ask yourself if you’re such a creative and good DJ in the first place.
    After all you can’t buy creative skills or talent.

  • dual citizen

    “The problem is that anybody with 100dollars & some computer skills can be a dj.(and yes anybody) just look up dj on YouTube…hey you might see me in there with my ion discover.”

    I don’t see this as a problem. Sure, it means a lot more beginners out there, but the lower financial barrier to DJing is one of the great things about digital technology.

  • dual citizen

    “Read the book “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life” for a great outline of the true history of DJing. It’s a great read.”

    +1

  • Don Paco

    The problem is that anybody with 100dollars & some computer skills can be a dj.(and yes anybody) just look up dj on YouTube…hey you might see me in there with my ion discover.

  • http://www.djpc3.com/ Dj PC3

    Great column, I really like the “really old school” stuff about Thomas Edison and the coined term: “Dj.”
    But I think you missed a lot about some of the great pioneers (like grand master flash, etc) who turned a Dj into the “main performer,” when previously we were nothing more than background music players and an audio engineers.
    I understand that you only had so much space to write, but I think if you were to do a “part II” that focused on the middle stuff you skipped, where Dj’s were becoming the rock stars and performers, you would really fill it out and make a comprehensive column.
    Other than that, I really like the future of Dj’ing and I completely agree with the author on the future. I think a “Minority Report” to Dj’ing, with great reactive full body intensive Dj interface, with files that have dedicated vocal or instrumental parts that are completely independent of each other (like being able to cut the vocals out completely, like making a instrument on the fly, with a touch of a button). But when that happens, Djs’s will also have to learn how to dance (scary thought lol)…

  • http://www.deadmanzkassette.com jasonmd2020

    I love all the next-gen tech advances in noise making. But I don’t think turntables are gonna completely go away. They may get toted around less to venues due to wieght & bulk. (Brought my full coffin to a gig last night. Back still hurts.) But I think they’ll become more like grand pianos. Something to have around the house and use.

    That being said, will someone make a damn motorized controller for Traktor please? I’ve tried playing with controllers before and it just doesn’t feel right not having the motor pulling under my fingers. It’s like moving from an acoustic piano to a synth action controller.

  • lhaksdf

    I know this article about the future, not the past… but you really need some “history of Djing” classes.

  • photojojo

    Long live Betamax!!

    Interesting, but I agree with nem0nic. I think the more immediate future is a combination touch screen controller with a few buttons and faders that are assignable to do whatever you want so a new DJ comes in and puts their preferences in and it changes completely from what the other DJ had set.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deejay.lildave lil’Dave

    Check out this sick vid of Kerri Chandler using a similar laser interface to the one jean michel jarre did back when.

  • The Progen

    Bouncers will have a harder time in future. Imagine clowns who have similar gloves moving into range of the sensors and making trainwrecks out of all your mixes. :D

    This would mean that the gloves would also need to be transmitting encoded signals to the receivers.

  • http://www.nem0nic.com/blog nem0nic

    That should be “not”, not “now”. Sorry.

  • http://www.nem0nic.com/blog nem0nic

    While the history isn’t quite right, the point is valid. Read the book “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life” for a great outline of the true history of DJing. It’s a great read.

    The problem with systems like g-speak is that it puts your arms in front of you in mid-air for long periods of time, causing fatigue. It’s an ergonomic issue that needs to be addressed before vertical touchscreens and similar systems are widely adopted. The other main issue is that there is no precision in a system like this. Even touching a screen directly doesn’t give you the kind of precision needed by DJs. There needs to be a LOT of development into the field of haptics before these kinds of interfaces compete with more traditional hardware for regular use. I certainly think that touchscreens as they are now are a valuable addition to a DJ setup, but now at sole controllers.

    I still think hybrid systems that incorporate elements from touchscreens and traditional gear will be the way forward. The company Studer (large audio console manufacturer) has technology called “Vistonics” (for their Vista series consoles) that mounts traditional controls on top of a flat panel. Very interesting stuff when you extrapolate forward from that.

    As far as “staying connected to the audience” goes, I don’t think that this will manifest itself in turntables for much longer. People now don’t relate to them like they used to, and the idea that using anything else is artificial is quickly gong away. As far as looking at a screen is concerned, what’s the difference between a DJ looking at a screen and a DJ looking down at a mixer or turntable? The issue isn’t that DJs need to make more eye contact with an audience and computer based DJing somehow stops that. It’s a matter of perception, based on preconceived notions of what a DJ is. Right now, the accepted meme is turntables (or CD players) and a mixer. But that’s changing rapidly, and there is now a whole generation of DJs that have never used and never aspired to use vinyl. In a few short years, I think DJs that cling to more traditional gear will be perceived with the same kind of negative perception that controller DJs get now, and will lose gigs because of it.

  • http://listn.to/lafindumonde Str8upDrew

    Great article. That video at the end is something straight out of a sci-fi flick. I can’t wait to see what is coming next.

  • http://www.myspace.com/hernancerbello Hernan

    Been playing music for +10 years. Vinyls, cds, computer & controllers. I still believe that been connected with the audience is the key to success. Keep your eyes on a screen is not what people expect from a dj, and the beauty of turntables or cdjs remain on top of other tecnologies by far. But of course, this is my opinion.

  • JimFixedIt

    UK readers may splutter a little on learning Saville was such a pioneer.

  • djfrogstar

    The future will be when the brain is midi mapped and none of these stone club tools will be needed as are being used today. The tools of today and all their innovation is like saying this stick has better knots or a certain bend here or there. But at the end of the day… they will smash their target one way or another.
    On a strange note, not mentioned in this brief history. But one thing that was developed and invented during the time of Nazi Germany was the first use of magnetic tape and the transport system. The effect of continous music or speeches going without the pause of the record being flipped was at the time a big thing. America’s entertainment commercial success can be partially attributed to Nazi technology. The First radio shows using the captured tape machines in the states got the whole family locked into this new form of constructed sequences/entertainment. The rest is history.

  • Anom

    The future does indeed look bright.

  • Fyoog

    Interesting article. It’s exciting to see where it will all go. I think with the introduction of the sampler on S4 and alot of people talking about the Bridge platform on the Ableton/Serato crossover I think it will soon become a race to consolidate as much as you can on to your respective program, this will inturn mean they will all more and more start to look like each other.
    Still can’t believe Jimmy Saville claims the first record to record DJ!!! Now then, now then!!! (for the UK peeps)

  • Kaek

    That is pretty cool stuff, although I think we can both agree that the interface has to be mature enough before anyone will write software to enable it to be useful to DJ’s…

    Unless we have some programmers on DJ Techtools who are also UI Interface experts :)