Yesterday’s guest article certainly ruffled a few feathers. But the idea was to get people thinking about how the traditional DJ workflow permeates everything we do, but perhaps there are better ways of playing digital music. And the comment about “spinning circles” got me thinking about their value and how they interact with hardware.
As a clear example of how traditional values are imprinted on the digital world, software has options for 33 and 45rpm on static platters. I understand this — DJs need to be able to transport skills and even routines across technologies and setups. But why stop there? Can’t a software spinning circle run at any speed it wants? How about making the rotation user definable in software?
Speaking from experience, using static jog wheels doesn’t make the finer points of DJ tricks easy. With the only visual reference being on-screen, you’re obliged to stare into your laptop, and as we know that’s a performance killer. But if there was a temporary mode (360 mode?) where using the analysed beat grid allowed the rotation of a wheel to represent one bar or four beats per quarter rotation, then some tricks would be much easier to pull off, and may even open up scope for more creativity.
As an example, at 33⅓rpm a full rotation is (4 x 33⅓)=133⅓BPM, so for faster genres, this is quite natural and around this speed not much will change. But for a slower BPM e.g. 90 BPM the rotation on-screen and on the jog wheel would be slower i.e 22.5rpm, But knowing that a full rotation of the static jog wheel is a 4 beat bar, and 90° is a beat, adaption should be swift and techniques should be cleaner. Who knows — perhaps some new tricks await.
CAN’T YOU JUST HIT A BUTTON?
Of course. Slicing and hot cue juggling are all at our disposal, but DJs still love the manual approach, and this idea offers that and reduces the need for screen gazing too. For me, this gets around some of the issues of static jog wheels, and makes them more intuitive to use.
So I feel it’s an idea that’s worthy of kicking around a little with our dedicated and smart community. Perhaps a software dev will see this and give it some thought. And as with any idea I might put out there, it may have appeared somewhere else before, but I’m not aware of it, but feel free to comment if it has. I just want to see ideas make it out there, either for the community dismiss as nonsense, or indeed to develop and rubber stamp for some company to pick up and run with. We don’t want credit — we just want better DJ gear.
The basic idea — one screen rotation = one bar = one loop = four beats = one jog wheel rotation. Silly idea or one that might just make sense in the digital age?