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Arts & Entertainment

Building a Set: Edits and Mashups

Armin van Buuren

Lesson time 18:27 min

A great DJ set is a product of careful preparation. Learn how Armin uses Ableton Live to shorten his songs and make fresh-sounding mashups that will excite the crowd.

Armin van Buuren
Teaches Dance Music
Learn how to make dance music from the platinum-selling producer voted No. 1 DJ in the world five times by DJ Magazine.


There's a lot to say about constructing a DJ set. I think it's a whole different craft. I could talk about this for hours. But normally the way I would construct a DJ set is I would say, OK, here's all my music. I used to DJ with vinyl. And when I was DJing with vinyl. I usually had a bag of records. And that bag could hold maybe 100, 150 tunes. And I would probably go shopping for records twice a month or three times in a month. My crate now is digital. But I still like to think of my record box as you know a stack of vinyl. So what I do, I organize my tracks in folders for months. This is the folder for this month. These are all the tracks that I think I want to play in my DJ set. This is my record box. When I prepare a Tomorrowland set for example, I make a folder, and I call it Tomorrowland. And I start with the tracks that I really, really, really want to play. Because usually when you're playing on a big stage like Tommorowland or EDC, or Ultra, you get an hour, an hour and a half. And you have to make it worth. Because there's probably a really popular DJ playing before you and probably a really popular DJ playing after you. So how are you going to impact? How are you going to have a character there? How are you going to stand out from all the other DJ's that are playing before or after you? Well, my advice would always be to always introduce a couple of your own songs, your own songs is what makes you stand out. And the cool thing is if you are your own producer and you produce your own songs then you have the freedom to play it for as many times as you want. If other DJ's play a specific song for five years, it's a bit weird. But your own songs, you can start playing forever. So let's say this is the folder that are all my tracks of the month October or the month that I'm going to play. All right, I've decided I really want to play this one and this one, maybe this one. I live for energy, so let me just grab a few tracks. I like that one. So these are are the essentials for me that I absolutely want to play in my DJ set. I throw them in this folder. So these are the essential tracks. So I'm starting to look to see if there's a possibility of creating mashups or editing tracks. Every track that I play in my DJ set gets an edit. So I would really strip down my set to the bare minimum to see if I can create interesting combinations but really, OK, what what part of this track do I want to use? I don't have the time to play the entire track. Because the entire track is maybe six minutes. And I want to play 18 or 19 tracks. So I have to edit my tracks. And making mashups, combining different tracks, using different elements from different tracks, that's also a way to set you up. Let's say I really love this track. So let's pull up Adelson. It's 1:32 BPM. So I start to listen to this song. Has a pretty long intro. It's a very long track. I want to play it. It's not a known track. So that's a bit risky. Because if I...

About the Instructor

Every week, Armin van Buuren puts 41 million listeners into A State of Trance on his radio show. In his first-ever online class, the platinum-selling DJ breaks down his hits and builds a track from scratch to show you how he produces, performs, and promotes dance music. You’ll learn his technical process for using samples and plug-ins, mixing, recording vocals, and how to DJ a set. Your crowd is waiting.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This class gave me a great amount of insight into to all aspects of the DJ/producer world. I have learned lessons that I have already applied and more that I will apply as I continue to pursue my goals.

Thanks Armin...fab Masterclass. Packed so much great information in, provided great insight and tips for me to use in my music.

What an amazing journey... This Masterclass is a life-changing experience for me. I can't wait to be like Armin Van Buuren! I will not stop until the dead end.

Learned so much thank you so much i hope we can get more Producers to share what they know on the masterclass...Thank you


yashar L.

created my first tune, but i am very insecure to explore it more and make a song out of it, or will it be a waste of time ? because it doesn't line up with other tunes/ songs, can y'all give some feedback, thanx in advance

A fellow student

Let me know what your thoughts of my own DJ set!

Moises T.

Definitely this was one of the best lessons in the entire masterclass... Mega Star.


Hello everyone, Is it possible to do this lesson in Logic? I understand that it is easier in Ableton Live but it is not easy for most of us to invest in many different DAWs.


Definitely good advice because you can't just play songs in a set. They need to sound good with each other!

Cosmic B.

I find sets to be a book of chapters, each track evidently being a chapter in that book.. each set a variety of emotion encompassing what the dj wants not just the crowd to feel of course, but with elements that speak to them.. kind of like when you make a melody in a track that fulfills how you are feeling.. it's like the heart and what you are doing communicate to each other and when they are in accordance, then you know that you've hit that spot.

Maurice D.

I like the way Armin turns to the camera and stares into your soul. Can you feel it?

A fellow student

I just want to get on here and tell you guys Armin is correct, life is short, no one can tell you how to dj. I've been a dj since 2001. In 2014 I was at burning man not as a performer but as a patron and of course I know what a build up is, and what a drop is, I know the elements of any track. To my disbelief Marcus Schultz of all dj's showed up and I think he was running an experiment. Burning Man is basically a big social experiment anyway so... I witnessed for the first time in my life a dj mixing from Build up to build up to build up... NO DROPS.. he kept building up the crowd and getting them to go wild and then.. mixed to the next build up.. I was pissed cuz he was DROP WITHHOLDING, who the fuck does that?? since its burning man and there's lots of stuff to see, I ended up leaving after probably an hour maybe 1/2 hour. I would consider his experiment a failure because I like him as a dj and producer but I couldn't take the torture so I had to go...


Working hard ahead of time allows him to be more creative on set--so smart!

Gaetan G.

I'm curious of knowing which songs are in the keys of F# that you play. If I've done my homework correctly then and would make a good mashup because there in the same key? Musical characteristics of F# MAJOR Conquering Difficulties, Sighs of Relief Triumph over evil, obstacles, hurdles. Surmounting foes and finally finding rest in victory. Brilliant clarity of thought and feeling.