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the cheating curve

this post is about dj's.

it has nothing to do with david petraeus or his mistress[es] or any of the other people who are involved in that sordid story because, despite the fact that i love seeing a bunch of republicans make asses of themselves in public, i stand by my original tweet on the matter: unless it's in my ear, i really don't care where the general puts his wiener.

i was mulling this over on the way into work this morning because i had some time, haven't chosen a new book having just loped through stig larsen's "millennium" trilogy [about a hundred years after everyone else in the world, i realise] and because i started playing around with an app on my phone that allows you to play dj with the music you have on hand. it's even set up to look like a little dj station, where you plop your chosen mp3s onto turntables and can spin them together just like they were real [although very, very small]. it's a fun way to pass the time and also, possibly, to come up with ideas for future sets for the caustic lounge or elsewhere.

when i first put this app on my phone, after having it recommended by a phone, i showed it to dom, who reacted as if i'd told him i'd made a phone from the skin of an unattended child at the mall. [read :: badly] because to him, i was coming close to crossing a boundary, as evinced by his first words:

"you're not going to actually dj with that, are you?"

well, no. apart from any other concerns, i don't generally dj in places that would allow me to work from a phone, so it's a non-issue. plus, of course, there's the fact that i haven't figured out a method that allows you to divide the sound outputs between what's playing and what's on cue, so everyone would be listening to me cuing up records all night. [owing to a caprice of the mixing board at cagibi, this occasionally happens anyway, but not very often and no one enjoys it.]

but given the chance, would i?

probably not. because, as it turns out, a bad mix on an app sounds just as much like a dog dragging its ass across your record as a bad mix with vinyl and turntables and i've never been all that good at beat mixing. the app does allow you to play with effects, like a really tricked out dj, which makes things easier, but it still requires some skill.

done properly, it does sound pretty seamless and i have to admit, i would be tempted.

dom is probably purging that app from my phone as i write this.

because both of us have been critical of "laptop" dj's who ensure a smooth flow by allowing a computer program to align beats and merge harmonies. after all, it's not really dj'ing if you're not doing the work- the thinking through and then executing the mix by hand- if the machine is doing all the heavy lifting, right?

while you still have to be good at creating a dynamic flow of music, having a computer to do the mixing for you certainly takes the skill out of the equation. but i don't actually have that skill. i've made decidedly half-assed efforts at acquiring it, but other than the most rudimentary and simple beat mixes, i'm not any good at it. and the fact is that with the dj work i do, i don't really have to be. i'm not spinning the latest electro-blorp to parties of thousands, i'm playing quirky tunes in cafes and local bars. as long as there's not a half-minute silence between each track, people don't notice.

and the fact is that even if i was able to mix extremely well, the venues where i dj don't have the equipment that would allow me to do so, nor is most of what i play available currently on vinyl. so even if i possessed the skill, i'd have to rely on something like a laptop or application to do some of the work just to make up for the fact that most places willing to allow me near their booths aren't able to afford a world-class dj set up any more than i'm able to afford being a world-class dj. given those facts, is it really so bad to use a readily accessible technology to fill in the gap?

 i actually don't know any more. but i'll continue practicing my finger mixing on the bus until i find a new book to occupy my attention.

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