Beatmatching is a
disc jockeytechnique of pitch shifting or timestretchinga track to match its tempoto that of the currently playing track. This allows beatmixing, smooth mixing between the tracks without stopping the beat or changing the tempo.
The technique was developed to keep the people from leaving the dancefloor at the end of the song. These days it is considered very basic among DJs in
electronic dance musicgenres, and it is standard practice in clubs to keep the constant beat through the night, even if DJs change in the middle.
Beatmatching is no longer considered as a novelty, and new digital mixers have made the technique much easier to master.
Beatmatching was invented by
Francis Grassoin the late 1960s and early 1970s. Initially he was counting the tempo with a metronomeand looking for records with the same tempo. Later a mixer was built for him by Alex Rosnerwhich let him listen to any channel in the headphones independently of what was playing on the speakers; this became the defining feature of DJ mixers. That and turntables with pitch controlenabled him to mix tracks with different tempo by changing the pitch of the "cued" (redirected to headphones) track to match its tempo with the track being played by ear. Essentially, the technique he originated hasn't changed since.
These days beatmatching is considered central to DJing, and features making it possible are a requirement for DJ-oriented players. In 1978, the Technics SL-1200MK2 turntable was released, whose comfortable and precise sliding pitch control and high torque direct drive motor made beatmatching easier and it became the standard among DJs. With the advent of the compact disc, DJ-oriented
Compact Disc players with pitch control and other features enabling beatmatching (and sometimes scratching), dubbed CDJs, were introduced by various companies. More recently, software with similar capabilities has been developed to allow manipulation of digital audiofiles stored on computers using turntables with special vinyl records (e.g. Final Scratch, Serato Scratch Live) or computer interface (e.g. Traktor DJ Studio, Mixxx, Virtual Dj). Other software including algorithmic beatmatching is Ableton Live, which allows for realtime music manipulation and deconstruction, or Mixmeister, a DJ Mixset creation tool. Freeware software such as Rapid Evolutioncan detect the beats per minuteand determine the percent BPM difference between songs.
The change from pure hardware to software is on the rise, and big DJs are introducing new equipment to their kits such as the
laptop, and dropping the difficulty of carrying hundreds of CDs with them. The creation of the iPod allowed DJs to have an alternative tool for DJIng. Limitations with iPod DJing equipment has meant that only second generation equipment such as the IDJ2 or the Cortex Dmix-300 have the pitch control that alters tempo and allows for beatmatching on the iPod. However, recent additions to the Pioneer CDJ family, such as the CDJ-400, allow iPods and other digital storage devices (such as external hard drives and USB memory sticks) to be connected to the CDJ device via USB. This allows the DJ to make use of the beatmatching capabilities of the CDJ unit whilst playing digital music files from the iPod or other storage device.
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