Drum and bass is a style of music that has evolved closely with the development of DJing and the progression of the club and party scene.
These high-energy beats are known to typically be faster and more aggressive than other dance music genres - and require a different 'DJ hat' when mixing.
This guide explains everything you need to know to start mixing drum and bass tunes. From the basic principles and techniques of DJing to the specific skills that work so well with DnB, by the end of this guide, you'll be on your way to becoming the next legendary DnB DJ.
I'll also share a unique piece of DJ software that is revolutionizing the DJ workflow, giving users an upper hand in this competitive industry.
TL;DR - DJ Mixing Drum & Bass#
Drum and Bass DJ mixing is, at its heart, a skilled, expressive art form.
DJing drum and bass tracks requires fast reflexes, preparation, and creativity.
Drum and bass often revolve around build-ups and drops, which should be respected.
DJ.Studio is a powerful piece of DJ software that opens new doors for DnB DJs.
Drum and Bass: Genre Overview#
Dive into the background, history, and artists of DnB.
What Is Drum & Bass?#
Drum and bass is a genre of electronic dance music that evolved in the early 1990s in the United Kingdom.
Stemming from rave and jungle scenes, drum and bass (D&B, DnB) is known for its fast breakbeats (typically between 160–180 beats per minute), heavy bass and sub-bass lines, intricate percussion and drum patterns, and sparse vocal samples.
The genre is a true testament to musical evolution, as it incorporates elements from funk, jazz, hip-hop, and a multitude of other genres, all while maintaining a hyped, energetic sound.
Popular Drum & Bass Subgenres#
There are countless drum and bass sub genres, here are the most popular varieties:
Jungle - A precursor to DnB, jungle is characterized by faster breakbeats, dense rhythms, and influences from reggae, dub, and dancehall music.
Liquid (Liquid Funk) - Characterized by its melodic and harmonic elements, liquid funk is infused with ambient, funk, disco, and house sounds, providing a smoother, laid-back vibe compared to other sub-genres
Techstep - Emerging in the mid-90s, techstep is known for its darker, more industrial feel. It focuses on sci-fi atmospheres, intense sounds, and heavily processed production, creating a colder, robotic sound.
Jump-Up - Known for its lively and upbeat style, jump-up incorporates fun, catchy, and energetic basslines. It's a crowd-pleaser and is often used to get people moving on the dance floor. Sadly it's widely hated by non-DnB lovers, as people find the sound jarring...
Neurofunk - This sub-genre is a progression from techstep, incorporating more intricate basslines and complex, detailed soundscapes. It's known for its futuristic, often alien-like sound design.
Influential Drum & Bass Artists#
The drum and bass scene has been shaped and propelled by numerous influential artists, each bringing their unique style and innovation to the genre. Some of these noteworthy names include:
Calyx & TeeBee
If you want to find some killer drum and bass tracks, just search for some of these names!
Now, let's get stuck into the DnB DJ mixing skills...
How To Mix Drum & Bass: Step-By-Step Fundamentals#
Making a Drum and Bass mix requires all of the fundamental DJ skills and techniques, but there are a few extra considerations to mix this genre more effectively.
First, I'll explain the core steps involved with mixing DnB on decks, then I'll go into the specific tips.
Prepare your setup and music library - The first step is to get your gear set up, and download some tunes. In this example, you'll be using some kind of DJ controller or CDJ setup. (Later I'll show you a software-only method). You can find DnB music on a range of websites and music platforms, but DJ Pools are often an affordable place to start.
Build your Setlist - For the smoothest mixes, you should consider the tracks you're going to play ahead of time. (Although you can improvise, of course). Paying attention to Harmonic Mixing can help create smoother transitions and guide the progression. Line up a playlist in your DJ Software or decks before starting the mix. You could pre-prepare your Cue Points for a cleaner mix too.
Start Mixing - Start by playing the first song in your list, then load the next song in the cue channel.
Beatmatch - You'll need to beatmatch track 2 to the same tempo as track 1. This is a complex skill, so check out this detailed guide: How To Beatmatch. Make sure the elements are in time between the songs.
Cue up Track 2 - When track 2 is beat-matched, you can move it to the point you want the track to start, and begin to anticipate starting the mix when it reaches the right time in the first track. You can do this easily with a cue point.
Start the Transition - When the time comes, hit play on track 2, and start the transition. There are countless Transition Styles, so you can get a bit creative (I'll give some examples in the next section).
Stop Track 1 - When the transition is complete, you can stop track 1, and load up a new song on the deck.
Rinse and Repeat - Now it's just a matter of repeating from step 4, for as long as your DJ set needs to last.
By mastering the above process, you'll have no trouble mixing drum and bass. This is just the fundamental process, and you'll find an endless amount of variety in the specifics and nuances of DnB DJing.
The next section shows you some specific mixing techniques and examples for DnB DJ transition styles.
DJing Drum & Bass - 8 Specific Methods#
Here are some DnB mixing techniques, giving you some ideas on transition types. Check out the video above for extra inspiration!
1) Intro Over Outro#
One of the easiest and cleanest methods for mixing songs is by starting the intro of track 2 during the outro of track 1. These sections of DnB tracks are usually much more sparse, giving more space to be mixed with something else. For example, pick a track that only has percussion playing in the intro, then blend this in
2) Double Drops#
This is when you align two tracks so that their heaviest elements (like the bass drop) hit at the same time. It requires precise beatmatching and can create a powerful, high-energy moment in your set.
3) Filter Fade#
Gradually apply a high-pass filter to the outgoing track while bringing in the new track. As the bass and mids fade out from the first track, they'll start to kick in from the second track, creating a smooth crossover.
4) Quick Cut#
For a more abrupt and energetic transition, quickly cut from one track to another. This works well with tracks that have impactful intros or with a well-timed vocal or instrumental hit.
5) Bass Swap#
As DnB is such a bass-heavy genre, you need to mix tracks carefully to avoid clashing basslines. There isn't much space in the bass frequencies, which means you should try to only have one bassline playing at a time to prevent the sound from getting muddy.
To pull this off effectively, you should consider using the DJ Phrasing Technique, where you match up sections of the two songs.
A bass swap is a perfect transition for this genre - start the 2nd song with the bass cut to 0, then switch it up to full as you turn the bass of track 1 down.
6) Echo Out into a New Track#
Use an echo effect on the outgoing track, gradually increasing the feedback and mix until it creates a wash of sound. Then, drop your new track right as the echo reaches its peak. This can create a smooth and sometimes ethereal transition.
7) Breakdown Switch#
Transition during a breakdown, where both tracks have minimal elements playing. This can create a moment of suspense in your set before the energy picks up again.
8) Cutting and Switching#
This is a fun and dynamic mixing technique, where the DJ flicks the volume crossfader between the tracks for just a few moments. This creates a choppy effect, where parts of new songs are quickly cut in and out.
It's a cool way to tease elements of the new track and create high-impact, sudden transitions.
Remember, the key to a great transition is not just technical execution but also track selection and timing. Knowing your tracks well, including their structure and musical key, will help you make transitions that are not only smooth but also incredibly groovy.
Mixing Drum and Bass with DJ.Studio#
If you're making a Drum and Bass DJ mix, DJ.Studio is a powerful new piece of software that enhances the mixing process from music discovery to finished mix distribution.
It moves away from traditional live mixing methods like rekordbox, VirtualDJ, and other 'deck-style' mixing software, and instead uses an editing timeline combined with smart tools to expedite the mix creation process.
How to Use DJ.Studio#
Before looking at the advantages, let's have a quick look at how you use DJ.Studio:
Open the DJ.Studio app
Connect your music library - if you're using other DJ software or an external music library, you can connect it to DJ.Studio to browse all your music within the app.
Create a new project - You can make a Local File project for working with downloaded music, or use a YouTube project if you want to mix music from Spotify and YouTube.
Build your playlist - Start adding songs you want to mix together into your playlist.
Order the playlist - You can manually order the playlist using the editor, or use DJ.Studio's powerful Automix algorithm to quickly suggest a perfect order using harmonic mixing and beatmatching.
Refine the mix - Use the timeline editor to customize and sculpt your mix. Adjust track placements, effects, loops, and samples to shape the mix however you imagine. The transition editor has quick presets, or you can manually automate the parameters for custom blends.
Export - When you're happy with the mix you can export it to a range of locations. It records in up to 10x the speed, saving buckets of time compared to manually recording mixes on decks.
This workflow is easy enough for complete beginners but has the option for depth that advanced professionals love. You can try it for free with the DJ.Studio 14-day trial.
Why You Should Use DJ.Studio to Mix DnB#
There are several benefits to this software and the workflow it offers:
Easier Music Discovery - DJ.Studio contains several places to discover new music to use in your mixes. You can browse the massive 1001Tracklists library, or explore community mixes to see what hot tracks other DJs are using.
Faster Mix Production - The software is designed to speed up the mix creation process. Meaning you no longer need to plan, rehearse, and record a mix to share it with the world. It also takes care of time-consuming steps like harmonic mixing and beat-matching, so you can spend more time being creative.
More Detailed Crafting - Thanks to the timeline editing tools, you can refine your mix in precise detail, over as much time as you want. This means you can get much deeper with sculpting your mix than would be possible live.
Versatile Distribution - Finished mixes can be exported to a range of formats and platforms, like .mp3, .wav, animated videos, Mixcloud, Ableton Live, and other DJ software.
3rd Party Integration - DJ.Studio connects seamlessly to all other popular DJ software. This means you can prep and perfect your mix in DJ.Studio, then send it over to your live software for a gig.
This only scratches the surface of what DJ.Studio can be used for, and how it can help you as a DJ. Make sure you check out the rest of this website to see what else it can do for you!
Study the methods and tips above, and you'll quickly become a skilled DnB DJ. It takes some dedication, and a lot of passion, to excel in this field - but the deeper you dive into practice the better you'll become.
Spend time finding inspiration from other DJs, explore the enormous catalog of DnB music out there, and carve out your own unique niche approach to this art form.
With software like DJ.Studio, you can enhance your mixes with better preparation and experimentation. Of course, this also helps to promote yourself online, as you can create sharable promotional mixes much faster.
Try DJ.Studio yourself today with the free 14-day trial.
FAQs About Mixing Drum and Bass
- Is it hard to DJ drum and bass?
- How to beat-match drum and bass?
- What is a double drop DnB?