Blake Snow

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Tagged turntables

Proud papa: My daughter mixed her first song last week

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As a father of six years, I finally had my first “Holy crap, my child is going to be smarter than me!” moment.

Granted, I knew she was on to something when she started playing complex bass and treble clef chords on the piano — not to mention her ability to read music (I can only play by ear, and even then it’s only to poke around). I also like how she questions and shows an interest in almost anything.

But last week she reached a tipping point. I had gotten a new mixer (pictured) for Christmas. I was mixing some music and she immediately gravitated towards the mix deck. “You wanna try?” I asked.

She looked up with a beaming smile and nodding head.

I then proceeded to teach her about beat matching, BPM syncing, cross fading, pitch bends, and killing the bass of incoming songs to produce seamless transitions. After a little instruction, and help from Virtual DJs track visualizer, she blended her first mix: Deadmau5 + Rhiana.

I was blown away. I stepped out of the room to gloat to her mother, and while I was away she managed her second song blend. Lindsey and I just laughed, we were so impressed. A six-year old beat matching pop songs in the other room.

Look, I don’t expect nor particularly want Sadie to become a DJ. And she was only demonstrating initial interest; having fun doing something daddy does. But in that moment, I had a parental epiphany. I realized that I want to teach her everything I know (including art, science, writing, math, athletics, music, the whole she-bang) for as long as she’ll listen. Then she can combine the adopted disciplines learned from her mother and I and couple them with ones she discovers on her own to create something entirely new.

Now that’s what I call a mash-up.

Vinyl records sustain digital future

Author’s note: This is the piece I pitched to the Miami Herald and DJ Times after our stay in Fort Lauderdale. The Herald said it was too “trade specific” and the Times said it was too “Stanton specific,” so I’m publishing it here so it can see the light of day. Enjoy.

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HOLLYWOOD, Fl. — Despite three decades of newer technology, vinyl records are still crackling. In fact, vinyl sales grew last year, doubling to almost two million in the U.S., according to Nielsen Media Research—the highest they’ve been since 1991.

“Though vinyl’s popularity waned with the emergence of cassettes and CDs in the late 1980s, records continue to hold a niche in the music marketplace, especially among audiophiles and DJs,” says Joshua Friedlander, vice president of research for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Helping to boost last year’s total is a growing number of teens who prefer the collectible nature and warmer sound of vinyl—comparable to listening to a “live” self-playing piano, as opposed to flat MP3s, which are often forgotten as quickly as they are downloaded.

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I’m a bedroom DJ again

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After a three year hiatus, I exhumed my turntables from under my bed last month. The “wheels of steel” proudly rest beneath Joe DiMaggio in my office now, and I’ve officially rekindled my love for analog sound, which is deeper and more “alive” than the high-fidelity of DVDs.

It’s hard to explain the enjoyment that comes from mixing and interacting with records (also known as blending or beat-syncing). It’s not as liberating as playing an instrument, but it’s not as passive as listening to a CD or MP3. The turntables are more microphone than music player. The records are the voices and are highly manipulable, thanks to the hands-on approach and tempo-shifting abilities of standard direct-drive tables.

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