NYC Electro

‘Dropping On The 4′ is the new ‘Dropping On The 1′. (with some music theory)

This is no new concept to most DJs with many/a few years under their belt, but its very useful. Most DJs mix on the 1 (of the beat) and there is nothing wrong with. But, for those of you that have the need for something different, then this article is for you. Click through for examples, an explanation on "dropping on the 4", and some pretty sweet (basic) music theory.

One the 1 and the 4

What does it mean to drop on the one?

Basic Music/Beat Theory
This is a very basic concept that most DJs learn, either from trial and error, or by learning from a friend. You start playing a song, then the next song you start is started on its first beat to match the previous song's first beat. If both songs to keep it time, then you have a mix. For those of you that are still starting out, a good mix looks like this:
Song A's beats: "1---2---3---4---" play in time with
Song B's beats: "1---2---3---4---" . Its not easy to explain by type, but lets try.

Break it on down now
Basic song structure is on a 4/4 time code. Meaning that there are 4 quarter notes times 4, equalling one whole note or "1 bar". One complete 4/4 beat = 1 bar. To break it down,
the 1---2---3---4---, is one bar's 1/4th notes.
the 1-an-2-an-3-an-4-an- = 1 bar's 1/8th notes. and
the = 1 bar's 1/16th notes.
Each number (1,2,3,4) represents the 1/4 note (quarter notes) The "1-an-2-an-3-an-4-an-" represents 1/8 notes. And the 1/16th notes are represented by These all each equal a bar, or a whole note... how about that!

Drop it like its hot:
So, what does that meant to us as DJs? Well, to keep in time, all beats must be matched. the 1-2-3-4 and all the little 1/8th and 1/16 notes (and even 1/32nd's) must also be perfectly in time to make the best mix. Right? Correct! The best way to try to get your music to match is to "drop on the 1" and test to see if the two songs are in time. If not, correct and try again until you get it. Once its beat matched, its time to "drop on the 1" to mix in the new song. Pretty standard practice. But lets vary it up a bit.

What if you drop the "1 on the 4", or the "2 on the 3", or even the "3 on the 1" of the beat? It does not always sound good because our ears and minds cannot logically agree with these choices. We love mathematical music, even if you don't notice it. So if the music is not lining up, it sucks and is hard to dance to. Bot how can you make the mix more interesting? Is just lining the 1 of all your songs as far as you can go? Nope, you can do a lot more with minimal effort.

Drop the 4 at the 4
Don't drop the 4 at the 1 or 2 or 3, people will not understand it on the dance floor and people will likely hate you if you are on the radio. Its simple, drop the 4 of the new song right when the 4 of the old song hits (at the appropriate moments in the songs). Just like the dropping the 1 on the 1. Simple right? YES, super simple.

More importantly, the snare of the 4 can embellish your mix in interesting ways. Its loud, sharp and distinct. You can scratch it in, or push your buttons, adding extra sounds to your track before it drops.  It can lead to cool scratches and patterns. Also, if you drop in your new track on the 4, it gives you that microsecond (or an extra quarter note) to correct any imperfections you might have had from either starting the record too fast or too slow.

This is a great/easy juggling and scratching technic that you can do at clubs with little-to-no risk. People like hearing the scratching from time to time and they love great mixes (even if they don't know why). So try dropping your next beat on the 4, you might just like it.

Till then… party-on Wayne; party-on Garth.

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