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Show ALL Forums  > Art/Music  > Is a DJ a musician?      Home login  
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 decaturisgreater
Joined: 10/17/2008
Msg: 10
Is a DJ a musician?Page 1 of 9    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Some are definitely musicians - Fatboy Slim, DJ Dangermouse, Justice ... but they're not just disc jockeys. They're also entertainers/artists, and DJ'ing is the medium for their music. It's different than traditional instruments as it can be as simple as pressing play on your laptop (cough, cough, Girl Talk, cough) or as complex as cross fading, beat matching, mixing, queuing while synchronizing to video and smoking a cigarette (Fatboy Slim).
 nipoleon
Joined: 12/27/2005
Msg: 27
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Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 2/11/2009 2:40:29 AM
If a DJ is a musician, then a bricklayer is an architect.
Certainly, DJs are entertaining and creative. But, unless you have something to do with the actual creation and/or performance of the music itself, you're not a musician.
 Super Ryan
Joined: 9/15/2007
Msg: 28
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 2/12/2009 9:12:34 PM
Some dj's ARE musicians. Not all, but some.
Radio dj's and rent-a-dj are usually not musicians. But batle dj's and producing dj's are definately musicians. Club dj's can go either way.

Producing dj's make new music. They may use parts from other people's music, but they create something new and original. If you look at an act like the Beastie Boys, they will take a splice from a song less then 1.5 seconds long, then twist it with pitch and tone, mix it with other splices, and create a song that sounds nothing like the parts that went into it. I have seen some big name dj's live, some have amazing turntable skills in front of a live crowd, others only show basic skills while playing their own tracks.

Battle dj's either compete in "battle of the band" style competition, or perform showcase sets. A typical battle is either head-to-head elimination, or a series of qualifying rounds leading up to a final. They are sometimes divided into solo, pairs and team.
In head-to-head two dj's (or teams) face off playing two alternating 90 second sets, each needs to play off of the other dj. Judges or crowd applause decide winner.
Qualifying round tournament have each dj play a 6 minute set, and are then given a score by judges. Dj's with the highest score go on to further rounds.
Most compititions limit dj's to turntables and simple "battle" mixers. Some allow effects processors and other equipment. In a competition dj's are expected to use music from several genres. So you might see a Kenny Rogers track mixed with a Bee Gee's track and then spun into something from Nirvana.
Dj's are judged on their technique, level of difficulty, artistic impression, and stage presence.
Technique includes beat matching, scratching, doubling, tweaking, and a whole lot of other sounds dj's can make using a mixer and some turntables as a musical instrument.
Level of difficulty has a lot to do with track selection. A dj mixing a Bee Gees track with a Jackdon 5 track would be given low marks for difficulty, where a dj mixing a Hindi track with Metallica might get high marks for difficulty.
Artistic impression is all about how good the set sounds. It also has a lot to do with originality. Basically if the set was recorded, would it be a good song, would it be more then the parts that make it up.
Stage presence is mostly crowd support, but can include stunts performed on stage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP-86de-oUA

This is a set from C2C. They are a multi DMC world champion team. Anyone who does not think a dj can be a musician should watch this video. When you watch it, I hope you will see that during most of the set each member is only playing one instrument or one voice. They combine the parts in a very fluid fashion to make a new and original song,like a band consisting of several musicians. They also throw down about 200 different types of scratches in the one set.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiSFxDJQU48&feature=related

This is a set from KidKoala, a dj from Montreal mentioned earlier. In this set he plays a simple backing track of a jazz rhythm section on one turntable, and on the other turntable he has a trumpet. He leaves the backing track to provide a beat. And if you watch at the 30 second mark, he will begin to mainpulate the horn track to create an original trumpet solo. He uses his hands to spped up and slow down the record to play different notes. It's almost like he is playing the trumpet himself. The trumpet record itself, is just a trumpet player going through all the notes in order, it is not even a song or a solo.

I would also like to point out that several bands now employ a dj as a member of the band to help fill out the sound.

Since people mentioned sheet music, should let you all know that there is sheet music for dj's. Like regular sheet music, it dictates how a dj should manipulate his instument at specific points during a song. It has conotations for different scatches, mixes and other ways to maipulate the sound.

And on the lighter side.Someone stated that if you can't play without electricity, you are not a musician. Well there is a guy named Money Mark who built a dj set up using old crank phonographs, and a mechanism to slide the sound horn in a mixer fashion.
And when Mix Master Mike was a kid he did not have the cash for turntables, so he taught himself to mix using a Realistic brand double cassette deck.

The world of dj'ing is still very underground. Most people are unaware how far it has come since the first person scratched a record. And several of the top dj's have such strong musical talents they are capable of playing traditional instruments as a professional.

Some dj's that prove they are musicians:
Mix Master Mike
Q-Bert
Mike Relm (he was the opening act for Blue Man Group last year)
C2C
Kid Koala
 Super Ryan
Joined: 9/15/2007
Msg: 29
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 2/12/2009 9:52:22 PM
i beg the differ i think a dj can be a musiccian but not all djs have the skils to do so kid kola scratch perverts prime kuts all digs who make usic with there turntables . club djs take alot of credit that is not there cause there just song jokies

Translation:

I beg to differ. I think a dj can be a musician, but not all dj's have the skills to do so. Kid Koala, Scratch Perverts, and Prime Cuts are all dj's who make music with their turntables. Club dj's take a lot of credit that is not there, because they're just song jockeys.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbFIGFv4GLQ

And here's a way better version of Kid Koala's "Drunk Trumpet". It clearly shows how he uses the speed of the record and the cross fader on the mixer to play notes with a record of trumpet tones. I don't know how any one can watch it and not think he is a musician. Remember the record is only a note progression, it is not music in itself, but Kid Koala makes music with it.
 Okietokie88
Joined: 12/8/2008
Msg: 33
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Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 2/13/2009 4:33:20 PM
Yes,more so with turntables but also with a pc....
 Super Ryan
Joined: 9/15/2007
Msg: 41
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 2/14/2009 11:37:10 AM
Is there a form of notation for a dj to publish so his work can be reproduced? exactly to the note or record I guess.

Yes, I mentioned it in my first post on this thread. There are actually two methods for notating dj music.
Berkley music professor Stephen Webber developed a method using traditional bar lines with a few new notations.
There is also the Turntable Transcription Method (TTM). This system has been created by a colaboration of artists. It uses a series of grids and upward and downward lines to notate movement of the turntable and mixer.
Here's an article on it:

http://remixmag.com/mag/remix_notes/

And here's a video showing how the TTM system works:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu0htMt8xWM&feature=related

DJ Babu of the Beat Junkies coined the term turntablist to describe (in his words) “a person who uses the turntables not to play music, but to manipulate sound and create music.”


Here's a little lesson from Mix Master Mike:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6iGexp7Pn8&feature=related

In this video, he will play three sounds from one record, as they sound on the record. He will then show a routine using only the three sounds. The routine sounds nothing like the original sound of the record.
He is in fact using a turntable and mixer as a musical instrument, and not just a medium for playing music.
The clip is from the documentary "Scratch". It is an excellent documentary covering most of the history of the modern dj musician.
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 2/16/2009 6:43:39 AM
Personally, I think this whole debate rests on an individual's perception of what defines music.

DJs are certainly not "musicians" per se, (when I say "DJs" I mean specifically those who only mix together other people's tracks). HOWEVER, there is still a great amount of skill behind mixing, beat matching, key matching, and other techniques that go into quality DJing.

Turntablists are more "musicians" because of the amount of complex work that goes into their craft. Turntablism isn't just "vicka vicka vicka". There's scrathing, beat juggling, creating scratch sentences, and then also the beat and key matching as well as mixing skills that go into it. Some DJs can even create melodies by taking a record with a continuous tone played at a single pitch and changing the pitch of the note by adjust the pitch control slider on the turntable and cutting the fader to create the individual notes.
 flammaster
Joined: 2/18/2009
Msg: 47
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Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 2/26/2009 9:22:13 PM
It is to music what coloring books are to art. Sure some people can get creative with it but it's still coloring over someone else's work that they created and you did not.
 crazytoexist
Joined: 12/13/2008
Msg: 49
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Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 2/26/2009 10:28:03 PM
to answer the thread title: no
 flammaster
Joined: 2/18/2009
Msg: 52
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Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 2/27/2009 10:00:52 PM


It is just like a coloring book. But I can see that your endless use of the ignorant just shows how much you are. if you actually read what I wrote (which you did not) you would not be using such generalities. Your attempt to cut me down just shows how shallow you are but I digress, since this place is extremely banal and insipid.
 Hippiekinkster
Joined: 1/7/2010
Msg: 56
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 8/20/2010 2:35:03 AM
@doodleddoodledoodle

Any guesses as to why it's so hard to crak playing other peoples music?

BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY TALENTLESS DRONES TRYING TO!

If they actually had any real talent, they'd be playing their own music on real instruments, rather than sampling and scratching.

DJing is a musical artform like smearing shit on the walls of an insane asylum is a visual artform. Pity you can't see that. You've trapped yourself in a nicheworld populated by no-talent nobodies.
 Hippiekinkster
Joined: 1/7/2010
Msg: 57
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 8/20/2010 2:44:00 AM
infinitymine: "No need to take it so personally....
I agree on their own...they're not really muscians...but to state "it is to music what a coloring book is to art" is an extreme insult to the DJ who spends years honing his craft....

I havean E320 Benz droptop, serial number 234. It's a fairly rare car. There aren't all that many people who know their way around it except for in major metro areas.

The Mercedes techs who have worked on my car are amazingly skillful, competent, and knowledgeable.

But they can neither design nor build an equivalent machine.

Attempts to elevate mere manipulators of machinery to the level of designers of music are laughable.
 late™
Joined: 2/1/2010
Msg: 58
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 8/23/2010 1:19:29 PM

You're an ignorent idiot.


Rule number one; when insulting someone's intelligence, ...use spell check. Failure to do so often results in the intended target rendered rubber and you, glue.


Is a DJ a musician?


That depends on what one considers a musician, as opposed to who.

If the definition has loose boundaries, one should be able to earn their musician badge by hanging some wind chimes on the front porch.

Given a more holistic criteria set, ...one should be able to play a musical instrument beyond just the basics, resolve complex chord progressions, re-harmonize, improvise over a wide range of progressions, ...play any genre (this last one separates the stylist from the musician).

As for what a musical instrument is, see: Sachs-Hornbostel classification.

...no turntable (tape deck, or optical drives) listed.
 Super Ryan
Joined: 9/15/2007
Msg: 59
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 8/23/2010 2:03:22 PM

If the definition has loose boundaries, one should be able to earn their musician badge by hanging some wind chimes on the front porch.

In this case wouldn't the wind be the musician?

Given a more holistic criteria set, ...one should be able to play a musical instrument beyond just the basics, resolve complex chord progressions, re-harmonize, improvise over a wide range of progressions, ...play any genre (this last one separates the stylist from the musician).

I think you are asking way too much to qualify someone as a musician. There are some very famous and respected musicians that can't even read music.
And I would venture a guess to say that the vast majority of musicians can't play every genre.
What you are describing is a master musician.

As for what a musical instrument is, see: Sachs-Hornbostel classification.
...no turntable (tape deck, or optical drives) listed.

I don't think anyone has even tried to mix with a tape deck since Mix Master Mike was a kid.
As for the Hornbostel-Sachs classification, it has never fully included every instrument, it is simply a way to classify every instument.
As for the equipment a DJ would use, the Hornbostel-Sachs would list it as class 53 - Radioelectric instruments.

Here's a sugestion, instead of just declaring DJs are not musicians, why not find out how far DJs are stretching the bounds of music.
 late™
Joined: 2/1/2010
Msg: 60
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 8/23/2010 4:41:36 PM

Given a more holistic criteria set, ...one should be able to play a musical instrument beyond just the basics, resolve complex chord progressions, re-harmonize, improvise over a wide range of progressions, ...play any genre (this last one separates the stylist from the musician).

I think you are asking way too much to qualify someone as a musician. There are some very famous and respected musicians that can't even read music.

Reading music is not required to do any of these things.

And I would venture a guess to say that the vast majority of musicians can't play every genre.

Stylists

What you are describing is a master musician.

Not by a long shot, ...a master musician is much more than this (and no, reading music is not a necessity here either).

I don't think anyone has even tried to mix with a tape deck since Mix Master Mike was a kid.

Immaterial, "mixing" is not playing a musical instrument, it is mixing music. If someone uses a banjo to hit baseballs, ...does that automatically make him a baseball player, a musician, or neither?

As for the Hornbostel-Sachs classification, it has never fully included every instrument, it is simply a way to classify every instument.

Yes, do note the criteria, it's not a "list of instruments", ...that part you seem to understand.

As for the equipment a DJ would use, the Hornbostel-Sachs would list it as class 53 - Radioelectric instruments.

No, it doesn't, unless they are actually playing a musical instrument (not triggering a loop).

Here's a sugestion, instead of just declaring DJs are not musicians, why not find out how far DJs are stretching the bounds of music.

Meaningless, ...Leo Fender stretched the boundaries (bounds?) of music more than any DJ could ever dream to, ...and he never played an instrument and was not a musician, Laurens Hammond too, and not only was he not a musician, he was tone-deaf.

I've taught music theory to DJs, ...after learning how to play music on a musical instrument, none of them consider their turntable to be a musical instrument anymore, ...because of its "bounds".
 late™
Joined: 2/1/2010
Msg: 61
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 8/25/2010 8:21:22 PM

If a DJ is a musician then i am a director for putting different movie clips together.


And you might as well call a person who goes to a movie theatre, makes cam copies of films ...skillfully re-encoding them and adding a TS audio track ...an "independent film producer".
 130nes
Joined: 8/6/2010
Msg: 62
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Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 9/4/2010 10:04:42 AM
A very tough question?


If a Dj also produces his/her own original music, then that is a definite yes because surely a musician is someone who makes music. Regardless of how.

Then there are levels, a young kid who makes music on a computer obviously cannot be compared to a concert pianist but they both still make music.

Listen to turtablists and the things that they do when scratching, just another medium to create some musicality, if you listen carefully.

Not all Djs are musicians though, probably because not all understand the complexities of music enough.
 late™
Joined: 2/1/2010
Msg: 63
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 9/7/2010 7:40:40 PM
The problem really is with the "instrument", ...if it's just scratching, sure, ...okay, I've worked with DJs who are quite obviously skilled at this, ...and can creative percussive effects that can spin the head of even the most experienced musician, ...but this (in all of it's entirety) is limited in scope, ...and limited in application.

As far as the more advanced skills of DJs who arrange 64-64-64 bar structures in "House" style music and its many and myriad derivatives, ...sure, ...some amazing stuff, ...many even create their own loops; BUT (big but) this too is limited in scope and application as far as a "performance" is concerned... there can be no organic shift of meter, no change of key on the fly, ...no improvisation possible as the performance is already "set in stone"; as to key (many DJs can't even find this, ...most maybe, even when doing mixes), time sig, meter.... --> FEEL <--

This is what separates this "effect" from a real musical instrument.

This isn't to say that the best of the best aren't creative, innovative or "talented" (disclaimer, ...that last word doesn't really have any meaning unless you're a theist), ...but they're STILL no more a "musician" than a strict arranger, a recording engineer or a producer (you can add "singer" to this 80+% of the time)...

Granted, as a "layman's term", ...musician is tossed around as if it's a label granted to anybody who owns an instrument, so much so that these days, ...actual musicians often cringe when they hear some claim to be one.
 late™
Joined: 2/1/2010
Msg: 65
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 9/18/2010 4:41:34 PM

There was a comment about them not being musicians but rather arrangers/ producers. And this means what now?


My bad.

An arranger may have been too much of a stretch, ...the process involved is more akin to "editing".

Editing is much better

Put it this way, ...a person using Photoshop to edit pieces and bits of paintings into a collage (a form of "art") may be called an "artist", sure, why not? But, it doesn't make them a "painter", something that requires a much different skill-set, knowledge base and discipline.

A producer is (it takes all of my will not to just cut to one of the many good jokes that usually follows these three words in the music biz ) many things, depending on the genre. In "urban music" it's often either just a financial backer, but can also extend to making editing and mixing suggestions/directives that have marketability as means to an end. Often when someone is a self-proclaimed "urban music" producer it means that he owns a legal copy of ProTools. This is not the same use of the word "producer" when talking about someone like George Martin or Jeffery Lesser, etc.


Sampling and sequencing are the main techniques these guys employ, and are often seen as lazy, or easy, or whatever.

I never said it was lazy or easy (or even uncreative), I just pointed out the reality that it isn't "playing a musical instrument", unless of course; one takes a very loose definition of the terms.


THe only reason it exist is because of the acute way that out brains can decifer rythem.

Nope, rhythm and harmony/melody are processed in different parts of the brain, ...the two processes are innate, and have been mapped using fMRI.


Well have you tried to dj?

This is a non sequitur, ...I haven't yet tried to pull someone's tooth, I can still discern the difference between a dentist and an architect (hint: a dentist isn't an architect).
 late™
Joined: 2/1/2010
Msg: 66
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 9/19/2010 12:47:59 AM

you are relating two different fields there.

That's the point, the argument is on of taxonomy, nusic is an art, it is also a science. Ignore the latter and you miss the point entirely.


When it came down to it I found myself doing so many of the same functions. I had to know the exact rythem, the key, the progression, and much more. I beleive that unless you try or see something you cannot form a statement. The methods are different but if I am playing a minor 7th jazz chord in jazz as a progression or figuring out how to crab or chop that 7th minor into a new chord arrangement or change the pitch to enter the key of d flat it seems the same to my musical arrangement brain. I cannot define the diference in playing versus mixing in simple terms and from what the opposition has stated they cannot really either.


What point are you making here, ...I read a lot of "I cant", and then you made a subjective opinion on the difference between "playing vs mixing".

More non sequitur, ...what point are you trying to make, seriously, ....all you seem to be doing is validating mine?


with your inexperience of the concept...


Hmmm... cite?

I've been in the music biz for over 3 decades, I have associates in the biz who are DJs, ...many of them have been music students of mine, I know how to program Serato, I know how to build a mix (but with an actual music knowledge base); so where exactly, ...is my inexperience?

I've been playing music for over 40 years, ...I know a lot of DJs, I have yet to meet one who can play with other musicians live, ...unless it's tied to a loop.

There's the defining point, ...do you not "get this"?
 arwen52
Joined: 3/13/2008
Msg: 68
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Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 10/1/2010 11:51:02 PM
A DJ plays recorded music, sometimes manipulates it. A musician plays a musical instrument. Why would you ask if a DJ is a musician? Isn't it obvious?

It takes skill to be a good DJ. It's a different skill than being a musician. Just like speaking a foreign language is a different skill than being a cook.

Being a dancer, I appreciate the skills of both good musicians *and* good DJs.

BTW, a musician doesn't have to be professional. There are many non-professional musicians who are more highly skilled than some professionals. Lots of musicians only play one style of music. That doesn't make them any less a musician.


That's how I see it, as well. I think, above all, a "musician" should be able to play live with any other musician he encounters rather easily, or at least with a little effort.

Learning to play well with others is a particular musical skill that not all musicians cultivate. There's lots of solo musicians around. Just because they play solo does not negate that they are musicians.

Insisting that musicians play all genres or play easily with others is, in my opinion, too narrow of a definition of who is a musician. Is one who plays many genres and play with others, but poorly, more of a musician than a highly skilled musician who concentrates on one genre and does it really well? I think these limiting definitions are silly. There are all kinds of musicians. Old time, Irish, classical, jazz, rock, folk, African, Cajun, Zydeco, swing, medieval, new age, Caribbean, orchestral, bluegrass, country, Indian (American and East), Balkan, Turkish, Pakistani, Middle Eastern . . . name all countries, all styles, all time periods. You gonna tell me a musician has to do all of that? Name one!
 Tabris
Joined: 6/20/2010
Msg: 70
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 10/5/2010 5:18:14 AM
Is a DJ a musician? For me I don't really consider a DJ a musician. But I do consider a great DJ to have great taste in music and an ear for sound.
 arwen52
Joined: 3/13/2008
Msg: 71
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Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 10/5/2010 6:03:52 PM

Is a DJ a musician? For me I don't really consider a DJ a musician. But I do consider a great DJ to have great taste in music and an ear for sound.


Definitely! It's something a good DJ and a good musician share in common.


Well, if that person can make something that sounds good . . .


I play strictly old time and some people would argue about whether it sounds good or not! We like to say, "It's not as bad as it sounds." (I think Mark Twain said that of Wagner.) As for my musicianship, I absolutely have no delusions about it. I live for a good jam session, I have fun playing with others. If it's not a good time, what's the point of doing it?
 late™
Joined: 2/1/2010
Msg: 72
Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 10/11/2010 8:19:39 PM
The dude walking around campus in flip flops holding an acoustic guitar trying to hit on chicks isn't necessarily a musician either.


Exactly


I think DJ's can be musicians just as much as someone wailing away at a live instrument.


You are forgetting the fact that a musician can change keys, modulate to a change, and vary tempo at will, .... BECAUSE HE'S PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT!

(sigh)

A DJ can't (loops are tied to keys and tempo, ...like any recording)

Whether he is a musician (plays an instrument) or not, he can't function as a musician as a DJ alone.

Simple, no?
 nevvyhat
Joined: 3/12/2011
Msg: 74
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Is a DJ a musician?
Posted: 7/9/2011 9:43:38 PM
I've just come across this forum and this particular thread.

I would like to have some input to this by saying the following:-

No, a DJ is NOT a musician!

Anyone can play records, you don't have to have any real knowledge or skill to be able to put one record on after another. There are, of course, more skilled DJ's who have the ability to be able to mix records to the continuous beat of the current playing track but that is all.

The hard work has already been done by the individual band members spending hours in a studio, sticking each track down seperately and then an engineer running the final mix. What for? Just to have some 'random individual' put the track on some decks with an amplified sound and claim all the plaudits? Give me a break!

The DJ is merely a 'vehicle' a 'tool' if you wish, to get musicians music out there. It matters not if the musician is able to read music or not. A strange thing that comes from musicians that are good readers, is that they lack the ability to be able to 'play by ear' which sometimes means that when they do play be 'reading the dots' they sometimes miss the real timing and feel of a song/tune.

Drummers are musicians too. Anything that provides a rhythm or tune is musical and when played by an individual, that individual is a musician. For those of you who don't believe a drummer is a musician, then try playing to a 'click-track'.
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