In-focus: DJing- Get High at the Console

Posted on May 19, 2010 in Alternative Careers

Somdutta Sarkar:

Music is a safe kind of high, said James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix.

For all those who like to get high on music, DJing or disc jockeying presents an alternative yet attractive career option. With the rise of the media industry, particularly that of the music biz, there has been a sustained increase in the demand for professionals in this offbeat field. The band of the DJs is swelling in numbers and scaling new heights as they rock the consoles and spin the records to keep the crowds grooving to their beats.

DJs play music for audiences at live venues, shows and events, often touring around with their own sound systems. The appellation ‘disc jockey’ was originally used for radio announcers who played popular gramophone records on air, while the term ‘DJ’ in referred to the performer who inserts live ad lib raps over dubbed instrumental recordings in Jamaican dancehall culture. Today, there are radio, club and mobile DJs, although no strict differentiating parameters exist, and one may moonlight as another.

DJs use various formats including vinyl, CD and digital MP3s, and equipments such as turntables, amplifiers, mixers, and microphones to play music suited to the audience’s taste, the venue’s music policy and their own artistic sensibility. They also create their own sound compositions by manipulation of records through techniques such as audio mixing, blending, cueing, phrasing, pitching, crossfading, cutting, scratching, and beatmatching.

This is an essentially talent-based field; hence a passion for music and knowledge of different musical genres and styles hold credence over and above formal educational qualifications. Graduation is considered the benchmark, but technical training in terms of a professional music production course is always helpful and advisable when it comes to operating the turntable. DJs are required to possess good communication skills and be able to feel the pulse of their audience, to be able to connect with the crowds. They should be punctual, and be comfortable working late hours and many hours at a stretch.

DJ Manoj, currently based in Dubai, spoke to Youth Ki Awaaz about his life as a popular DJ. Enthused by his “love and passion for music”, he started off by purchasing DJ equipments after his board exams, and in his words, “that was it”. His passion and practice bore fruits when he won the war of the DJs in the Middle East. DJ Manoj agrees that recognition and appreciation of one’s work is an important motivational factor in the field. His advice to the young aspiring DJs among our readers? “Get into this field purely for the love of music, developing a style a creativity of your own, which in turn should help you reach out [with] your music… the sky is not the limit.”

For those who prefer to gain some qualifications beforehand, the best institutes in India to build one’s DJing foundations at include:-

Film and Television Institute (FTII), Pune

School of Audio Engineering, New Delhi

R.K. Films & Media Academy, New Delhi

Take One Academy of Broadcasting, Chandigarh

A DJ usually charges pay on the basis of gig per night, depending on the nature of the event, the performance setting and the intended audience. The pay packet increases with experience and popularity in the entertainment world, and for the best in the industry; such as DJ Sasha, DJ Tiesto and Paul Oakenfold, the sky is indeed not the limit. So if the console calls, play it, Sam!

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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