• corneilius

    I play piano, saxophone and percussion. Piano is great for theory, learning to read music and visualising the layout of notes. Because the saxophone is never really seen by the player as it is played, it bridges the theory and reading of music to the sound expression without the visual reference of the notes. This was stage 1. Stage 2 was connecting the music and creativity directly without conscious processing to be involved. After the initial epiphany, which happened for me about 4 years after mastering the instrument, the music can be channelled directly to the instrument without the cumbersome thought process getting in the way. Creativity can then flow without blockage. Stage 3. Percussion was important for me to learn and feel rhythm. Rhythm takes the whole body. It is only once the rhythm is felt with the entire body that it can be adequately understood. Move your whole body with the rhythm as you write your beats. Closed eyes and pursed lips helps me.
    My name on this site is a pseudonym but be assured that I am an authority on these issues. I have recorded studio albums with 4 successful bands. Having these musical realisations for myself was a magical experience but it took way too long for me to achieve ‘musical sentience’. If I was given a push in this direction earlier, I would not have gotten bogged down or disappointed wondering if there actually was more to it. Spread your wings and fly!

  • halfasemitone

    It’s easy to see who the dj’s are and who the musicians are in this thread.

    • corneilius

      All of a sudden, wannabe musicians started calling listening to music and playing records/cds/tapes/mp3s DJing. Real musicians know the difference. ;-)

  • allstar720

    um… bass??? hello!

  • Dios Gnosis

    In my experience, I have found that producing and performing electronic music has conjured a desire to get to the root of music in general.

    Today, keyboard and guitar practice receive dedicated time in the structure of my days.

    Remixing created works is cute and safe, especially when mixing for mixed crowds, but to me, creating an original piece that would then have the potential to be remixed offers a much more rewarding perspective.

    To each their own always, but in one’s walk down the path of the DJ, if no pull toward original creation manifests, if no desire to continue to learn pervades, it will be reflected in one’s works.

  • Mr. Meoff

    Ummm… Learn the instruments that inspire you. Sorry, kind of silly article. Just read the title of the article again, silly… If you are asking yourself “what instruments should I learn”…, you prob shouldnt play one.

  • DJRITM

    Great article!! As a guitarist/bass guitarist and drummer for 15 years and in various bands, i totally agree with the content of this article. Learning at least one of the instruments mentioned is gonna put you miles ahead as far as producing, Dj’ing, and controllerism. This especially true if you write original music by yourself or with a band youll learn what works and what is disposable. Music theory is a must, and i think alot of new and some old dj’s, producers, etc need to know this. Being in a band playing one either one of the instruments mentioned has put me, at least i feel, way ahead of the curve of some my contemporarys in my dj’ing and producing. Its a fact most of the top producers come from some sort of traditional instrument/ music theory background.

  • Ryan Mackey

    I agree with the article. I find teaching college courses on music technology and electronic music production can be easier if the students have a grasp of how to play an instrument and at lest the basics of music theory.

  • Jim

    This got me thinking about voice lessons. As a producer, being able to put down some decent scratch vocal tracks would be great for when it comes time to work with a real singer.

  • æ

    an friend has tells me, to teach your ears, you have to play the guitar with the sound of the radio – this friend has the “Absolute pitch”

    btw
    pavarotti doesn’t have knowledge about notes

  • pumpthebreaks

    this is a great article for up and coming producers… but if any “controllerist” (as you guys are so fond of saying) were to actually take the time to learn any of these, by the end of it they probably wouldn’t feel proud to call them selves a controllerist. they would probably say, im a drummer/ vocalist/ guitarist/ musician etc. im sorry but people who just straight up “dj”, and dont take the time to learn how to produce, or play an actual instrument or even scratch and/or beatjuggle with real tables and a fader… are a fucking joke to me and i cant believe they get paid anymore than minimum wage. ill put my word on the line and assume 9 of 10 real musicians that understand “controllerism” would think its a joke. REAL TALK, if you don’t take risks and haven’t put real grown-up effort into music, you shouldn’t be playing live, smh. what a joke it is to even use the made up word controllerist. you should really just say im an overpaid bedroom “dj” you should even make the quotations with your fingers when you say that bud. im sorry but this article just got to me when i read the words dj and controllerist and you undermine real musical skill as something that would “help” your dj game. like “yo bruh, i think ima help my dj game and pick up the piano next week so i can really (somehow) WOW the crowd next time im balls deep in my serato itch, because piano is one of those things you can learn in an afternoon or 2 right?” do what you want and have fun, but expect to get back what you put in. just take the words, dj and controllerist out of this article DJTT… just do it

    • tetrix

      Controllerism isnt djing with a controller, its using production software and DJing software live, IE, stringing together loops of drums and sounds of a track and building it up piece by piece in a dj set and combining music as it comes together instead of your standard beatmatching , three EQ stuff. Their is a massive difference between djing and controllerism, just try and go from using a basic DJ set up for scratching and start using an X2 an F1 and some machine gear to play music (piece by piece) and you’ll maybe kinda notice their not alike at all in their style of use but equally difficuilt to master.

      So everything you just said makes no sense.

    • Hillary Bloch

      As an amateur pianist I’m sympathetic with what pumpthebreaks has expressed. But I’m reminded of what I’ve been taught about performance; there are at least three kinds that are completely different experiences: performing for yourself, performing for a general audience and performing for professional judges. The third kind is the most difficult in my opinion because it is the most demanding. it is the kind of performance one has for professional lessons, for auditions for a music program, for a contest, e.g., van Cliburn piano competition, or for a public performance that will be reviewed by professional music journalists. I don’t believe Ean Golden’s article speaks to this third kind of performance, only the first two. Encouraging DJs and producers at all levels, but especially beginners and those at the start of their musical careers, to broaden their musical training to include traditional instrumental performance appears to be Mr. Golden’s primary intention. i believe this should be lauded, not demeaned, especially given the history of the origins of turntablism, which “controllerism”, as coined by Matthew Moldover, sought to emulate. Turntablism has roots in the urban, hip-hop context, among many artists who had little access to the rigorous, exclusive and expensive musical training of traditional instrumental performance. But music does not belong to only the privileged or fortunate. Especially when expressing oneself musically in private or for a general audience, we should celebrate the opportunities. The most important music, I believe, has little to do with individual pride and technical brilliance and everything to do with sharing and communicating with others. Yo-Yo-Ma performed regularly for Sesame Street. Kiri Te Kanawa recorded with otherwise unknown Mauri musicians from her native New Zealand. How many of us can be boastful when compared to Lang-Lang or Miles Davis or Ella Fitzgerald? But we should all celebrate our individual musicality.

  • VoiceofSky

    Thank you for this , i just started getting into the Producing bizz .. needed sort of a Guide to set me on my way , or at least show me a general Direction in which to go.. Mucho awesomeness :)

  • skycaptain

    Definitely agree with this article. being a drummer for almost a decade now, i can say that it has really helped with rhythm theory. If I have a rhythmic idea, I can sit on my kit for 60 seconds and make it come to life, before i go in and put in midi notes. Sure you don’t NEED to drum to make great rhythms, but it sure is a lot more enjoyable that way for me, and as someone who makes progressive house, I find myself making rhythm patterns that are a lot more gratifying than your typical 4 on the floor kick. Playing keys is also HUGE. I’ve written my best chord progressions on my beat up upright piano in my garage, and I’m not talking the typical four chord stuff you hear in every song ever, Its the chords that can really create emotion in a track. Although I’m by no means a singer, I often have to hum to get melodic ideas, so vocalizing really helps too. Then again, I don’t necessarily need to do all this to make great music, but it certainly makes it feel more like music than a bunch of programmed midi and samples. it makes it feel like real music that i wrote on real instruments.

  • Tim

    Great Article!

  • My ears are bleeding

    Edm is boring as whatching paint dry …. Chords on chord on chords … Lots of layers of turds … Shinny shinny turds . That vid of Tim in the studio shows how soulless the commercial shinny turd of edm really is .

    • Oddie O’Phyle

      you are welcome to your opinion, but obviously you haven’t heard decent electronic music. in a market that is flooded by bedroom producers that have no theory, you will find a lot of sub-par music. the ability to play an instrument is an advantage. if your problem is that you like to generalize music and create a personal stereotype of a genre, you may want to open your eyes a little and realize that people like danzig have made experimental ambient (edm) and mick harris is responsible for overloadlady (DnB).

    • horray4peepee!

      Show us how it’s done then Mozart.

  • FUNK SINATRA

    I don’t want to sound like an old fart – but I started djing after drumming for almost a decade and collecting music on vinyl for a little bit more.
    I feel that most new dj’s buy an S4 and then look for what to play
    I feel that most new dj’s just play what works and don’t try to find their own voice

    and i’m cool with that
    But learning an istrument is a bit more serious.Most people over a ceratin age has more problems learning things’ let alone an instrument

    what am I trying to say? START YOUNG!!!!!
    Teach your children well. give them a a musical instrument.Le them hear all the music you listen too
    maybe then your child could grow to be this guy
    http://banter.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/questlove.jpg

  • Wuce Brayne (the Bitman)

    As someone who is a composer first, producer second, and DJ third, this really resonates with me. I play a good bit of jazz on trombone and piano, I’m learning guitar. Knowing music theory helps me understand the greater context of my role in ensembles or when I spin sets. My sense of relative pitch helps me to determine which songs mix well together – I can typically cue a track up and tell the distance between the tonics of two keys and the mode of the cued track versus the playing one. No need for mixed in key or Camelot. Especially if you know your circle of fifths.

    That being said, it’s important to have some sort of grasp on the process of making music – be it composing or playing or recording (in some interesting cases) – to be able to play it back for a crowd.

    I think this article missed a lot of sweet spots, as far as pointing benefits out can go. Pacing is one of the hardest parts of being a composer and a DJ. Determining what licks or bits of songs work within a certain chord progression in jazz solos can be likened to making mashups in the style of Madeon or Girl Talk (stretching this example a bit, but you get the point). Playing guitar has many benefits relevant to DJing. Chord voicing options and even amp and effects usage can be related to things like choosing a very altered chord (remix) to replace a normal chord (track) as well as use of DJ effects for transitions and to enhance a track.

    Use your strengths to your advantage, try to compensate for your weakness. This article is probably aimed at DJs who many not be instrumentalists but are curious about a sort of crossfit training that will pay off for both talents. It’s not the most eloquent or top-tier DJ centered article, but probably good for younger folks who may not have done high school band or had music lessons growing up. This article could have been a ton better, but it isn’t a bad start.

  • Erik Airrik Dale

    This article was honestly really boring and meaningless. It’s one of those “no duh” things. I miss when these articles were actually about meaningful things and things that weren’t so obvious. Industry advice, technical advice, advanced techniques and concepts. I miss that.

    • drummer dude

      No.

      There are plenty of people out there that needed this article to set them on a right path. Or maybe just inspire a bit of creativity.

      I think that this article is somewhat of a return to form for the DJTT that I started following years ago.
      Sure, industry, technical, and advanced advice is great. But I’m sure when you started out you automatically knew everything about basic things like chords and compression and pan laws etc.

      Everyone starts out somewhere and somethings might not be as clear to some people. No need to comment with such a condescending tone.

      • VoiceofSky

        i,for one,needed this article ..so suck it @erikairrikdale:disqus
        Great info , great article and great ideas.
        Don’t hate , appreciate :)

  • tool

    I am also keyboard player, Pianist and drummer and having musical theory does come in handy when Djing and producing.

  • Talon Michael Steinhauer

    I agree with this article. I come from a very vocal oriented family and because of that I didn’t ever want to sing. But I do feel that I have a better understanding of music theory and how to express myself while djing.

  • Ewan Collins

    Saxophone for me.

    Good because you focus on the melodies, not chords. It’s the melody that makes the song.

    • Yerp

      That is like saying the throttle makes the car move, so fuck the brakes. Chords are just as important in songs as melodies are. The is no winner, each are essentially vital.

      • William Wilson

        All instruments are great if you use them with passion and heart that you can create beautiful notes/chords and melodies :) Don’t fight or debate just for this.

        Thanks,
        William
        Owner
        wwww.bestguitarcourseonline.net

  • Aken

    Next week, DJTT will explain to you how it is important to hike on a regular basis, since when you are a dj/producer/controllerist you have to move between rooms, carry stuff from places to places and stand while playing. Emphasis will be put on another crucial activity : climbing. Climbing is a very good way to muscle your fingers and keep the balance. 10 hours a week of climbing also helps to remove vertigo while on stage. Combined to the 20h/week of hiking, that is going to make you a way better dj/controllerist/producer than people spending all this time doing so ineficient and unaware djaying/controllerism/producing.