Chapter 26 of 33 from Armin van Buuren

Building a Set: Edits and Mashups

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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.

Topics include: Starting Your Setlist • Editing Tracks for the Stage • Making Mashups

Armin van Buuren

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.

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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...

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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 building a DJ set. Your crowd is waiting.

Join Armin in his studio to learn how he layers sounds, produces tracks, and prepares for his live sets.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class, along with exclusive audio stems from Armin's projects.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Armin and his label will also give feedback on select student work.

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Armin van Buuren

Armin van Buuren Teaches Dance Music