Page 1 of 7 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 67

Thread: The art and practice of set planning.

  1. #1
    Member Jimanee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Here, there and everywhere
    Posts
    707

    Angry The art and practice of set planning.

    The practice of set planning is a controversial one amongst DJs, most often when the topic comes up the debate rapidly shifts from the initial question of how to why then degenerates into should you or not. This thread aims to show those who are interested how to plan ahead and hopefully overcome the pitfalls of planning ahead that give it a bad reputation.

    Let me start by introducing my favourite analogy for the successful sequencing of tunes: The game of dominoes.

    The domino is like a tune in that it has “two ends” which can be different values, same like a tune which can sound different at the beginning than at the end, or not. The game is to string these tiles or tunes in an order so that the “ends” of the tiles match up e.g. 2-3, 3-4, 4-2, 2-6, 6-6, 6-6 etc.

    And like tiles, tunes can be “blank” meaning they’ll go into anything, these types of tunes often start and/ or end with like a minute of simple drums and can be mixed into anything.

    Now I must point out that many DJs’ collections can consist of all “blanks” or nearly all the same few compatible keys, makes for a very easy dominoes game, these DJs have no need for set planning.

    But for others who are harmonically mixing, playing multiple genres and or loads of unique tracks, it is worth organising the sequence in advance so that you get most of the “ends” matching up.

    This is how lots of DJs organise making mix CDs and we will call it the Linear set list as it flows in one line from start to finish.

    Now here is where a lot of trouble starts as DJs take these linear lists and try to play them in clubs and parties to very mixed results. Most times they can work well and we will get to the pitfalls of that result later.

    Very often they can miss fire; the starting track wasn’t suitable or somewhere along the sequence an assumption was made that does not match the live reality. You’ve cleared the floor, everyone’s glaring at you and all you have planned is more of the same.

    Just having one Linear set plan is just not good practice.

    But why have one when you can have many?

    Let’s invent two types; “Feeder” sets that feed into the main Linear set and “Contingency” sets to take over if and when the Linear set fails.

    Feeder sets can be any size or amount and are used to adjust to the situation in the club and lead the crowd in the direction of the linear anthem smasher. Make them by visualising ( audiolising ? lol) most of the likely genres you would have to follow, what you would play to follow and what you would play to reach the “blank” start of the Linear set.

    Bear in mind that these sets are most likely to be your first mixes the audience will hear, so allow me to give you some useful advice an older DJ once gave me: make them easy ones

    The Contingency sets you can make many of as well, start them with a Blank and keep them small 2-4 and of a similar style and feel. Think of them as mini combos or special moves, the Linear set as a Kata. Use them as “get out of jail” cards.

    Now let’s get back to the main problem of the Linear set, its’ unresponsiveness and fragility, one song doesn’t work and the chain is broken.

    Now here I need you to show you a way of DJing, of song selecting, I’m not saying to do it this way, I just need it to demonstrate how you could plan sets with it, ya dig?

    See I don’t know your criteria on how you pick tunes, so I’m going to make a massive assumption.

    You play a track and if it goes well you follow it with a similar track just better.

    Simple, but then you reach a limit of “bestest track”. Well let’s introduce another could be applicable analogy: Tune selection is like a game of top trumps.

    “'Top Trumps is a card game. Each card contains a list of numerical data, and the aim of the game is to compare these values in order to try to trump and win an opponent's card”

    So lets’ give your tunes fantasy “Attributes” of say: darkness, funkiness, chilledness, appeals to stupid girlsness, sounds mental under the influence, heavy bass, sweet female vocals, [insert your own here].

    Say you reached your darkest tune, then “trump” it with a funkier track and hope your audience agrees with you.

    Now let’s apply this to set design, let’s say you’re going to have a theme, this btw is one of the benefit’s to pre-planning it allows you to do complicated Macro set planning and to have a direction.

    Say DnB, say start Liquid and go Darker, then trump it with Funky. Let’s say just purely as a figure: 6 tracks of each.

    Now here is a crude but powerful control: you can skip tracks to get to the desired level of attribute. You can read the crowd and adjust how quickly they progress through your journey.

    Say they loved the Liquid, great play all 6, then you go Darker, three tracks in they’ve had enough, switch to Funky. That should do nicely for an hour set.

    Another way to build flexibility in Linear sets is putting in alternative mixouts to handle non optimal crowd response to your preferred choice, sometimes these alternatives mean exiting the set, well at least you exited in a prepared and graceful way. And these alternatives could be part of another prepared set…

    Let’s look at how you would organise your prepared sets, I warn you now that bits of paper with the details scribbled on looks awful and really should be avoided.

    Back in the vinyl days I would just place them in order in my box, don’t get them jumbled though.

    CDs and folders on memory sticks, I burn/ place in order, using this format: 01A, 02A, 03A, etc. Any alternative mixouts would have the same number followed by a different letter e.g.: 01A, 02A, 02B, 02C, 03A, 03B, 04A. I’ve had such a bad time with other formats getting screwed up by mp3 decks; this is the best I’ve come up with, maybe start at 04A in case you want to add tracks to the front in the future.

    The advantages are:

    1) That it’s quick to get the next track on, means more time for beatmatching.

    2) A choice of mixouts so easily to hand without changing folder or CD, means you can leave your decision to the last minute.

    3) A “double” of the track playing is within easy reach if the live track starts messing up.

    4) A setlist that you’ve recorded or use a lot ends up burned on your memory; I can find most of the tracks on my setlists without looking at a list or needing to let the display scroll. Means more time to stare at girls .

    BTW there is no rule to say you can’t use the same setlist again, but you should avoid repeating yourself, especially to the same audience. Avoid that pitfall by making more setlists, moving between setlists, updating them, playing them in a different order, playing the alternative mixouts and experimenting with them.

    I keep folders and CDs of old setlists and use them for snippets of 1- 3 tunes and I gradually tweak others over time the more I use them, removing the bits that don’t work well and inserting more killer options.

    For those that use a DVS, the above might seem rather limiting, why restrict yourself to just a few alternative mixouts when you have thousands of tunes? Well the above is quicker and involves less time spent staring at laptop screens.

    But I use a DVS too and a free program called Rapid Evolution (RE) from www.mixshare.com . This program is a godsend for me as it stores mixouts, setlists and so much more. Now my setlists are more like setwebs with some tracks having 20+ mixouts and mixins, how’s that for prepared versatility?

    Now I can’t go in to detail with RE, it would need its’ own website (which it has), but IMHO it is the only viable solution to the problems associated with large digital collections.

    Then again I’m rather biased in that I’ve been working with and adding to, my copy of RE for seven years.

    Part 2
    Last edited by Jimanee; 02-11-2014 at 03:26 PM.

  2. #2
    Member Jimanee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Here, there and everywhere
    Posts
    707
    Keeping this space in case of additions.
    Last edited by Jimanee; 04-16-2013 at 02:50 PM.

  3. #3
    Deez Beats! KLH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    In your head
    Posts
    6,962
    Great article! I look forward to part deux.

    -KLH
    -KLH
    Visit DJF's Beginner's MEGA thread and drop by my Facebook Fan Page.

  4. #4
    Chubby Cox Hausgeist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Gem City, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    1,221
    Agreed. I will be keeping an eye on this thread, which I will eventually make sticky. Be forewarned, I plan on deleting any post that I view as a detriment to this thread. Nice one, Jim.
    Everybody is going to have an opinion.
    Just do your thing to the best of your ability and have fun with it.

    [SIGPIC]http://www.ustream.tv/channel/faderwave-radio[/SIGPIC]

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    529
    I love the idea here because I too pre-plan a lot of sets/crates. I call it my playbook with many audibles and shifts. Dominoes and Card Games is a good analogy. Honestly I would much rather read a more direct article about this with less analogies and more of "this is how I do it."
    Last edited by Austin GoGreen; 04-16-2013 at 01:42 PM.

  6. #6
    Member Jimanee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Here, there and everywhere
    Posts
    707
    Quote Originally Posted by KLH View Post
    Great article! I look forward to part deux.

    -KLH
    Cheers mate, shall get typing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hausgeist View Post
    Agreed. I will be keeping an eye on this thread, which I will eventually make sticky. Be forewarned, I plan on deleting any post that I view as a detriment to this thread. Nice one, Jim.
    Much appreciation and thanks Haus, that's really made my day, was worried how this thread was going to drop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Austin GoGreen View Post
    I love the idea here because I too pre-plan a lot of sets/crates. I call it my playbook with many audibles and shifts. Dominoes and Card Games is a good analogy. Honestly I would much rather read a more direct article about this with less analogies and more of "this is how I do it."
    Cheers man, I remember you being a set planner from DJF 1.0 and would like to see your process too. I used the analogies more for the complete noobs to hopefully help them visualise the process and I will need them in part two. There will be more of "how I do it" and actual examples coming in part 2

    Along side more and even wilder analogies

  7. #7
    Member CountElectrfique's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Moscow, Russia
    Posts
    556
    Awesome article! Enjoyed reading it and got a lot of useful ideas out if it, thank you! But man, I really dislike Rapid Evolution. It has such a bad GUI and buggy as hell

  8. #8
    Member Jimanee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Here, there and everywhere
    Posts
    707
    Quote Originally Posted by CountElectrfique View Post
    Awesome article! Enjoyed reading it and got a lot of useful ideas out if it, thank you! But man, I really dislike Rapid Evolution. It has such a bad GUI and buggy as hell
    lol yes, RE has a fair few bugs and caused me some nasty shocks, I have my work arounds and have tweaked the GUI, but for me it's still the best of what's out there. I have programmed software myself and used alot of open sourced stuff so maybe I'm more sympathetic to bug problems...

  9. #9
    Member Atomisk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Minneapolis / New York
    Posts
    518
    Went in to this thread thinking it was going to be some noob asking how to pre-plan his club nights.
    I was wrong, obviously. Great post. +rep.

  10. #10
    New Member OHshag's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    United States, Minnesota
    Posts
    7
    Awesomeness. Being kind of a beginner to the theory behind creating cohesive sets I found this post VERY informative

    Sent from my HTC One X

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
a