With over 19 years in the IT industry, Duane Wardell specializes in Oracle and INGRES database administration. Aside from work, Duane Wardell enjoys mixing music using vinyl records.
While many modern DJs may opt for the ease of digital mixers, MIDI controllers, and synced devices, aspiring DJs should consider starting with vinyl. Here are three of the reasons fledging DJs should unplug the computer and learn to mix using vinyl records.
1. Learning to Trust Your Ears – Digital music is perfect, meaning the music files do not show any wear and tear, and always present the same BPM and feel regardless of your equipment. Vinyl, on the other hand, is imperfect. Records degrade, and traditional turntables are all different. Learning to find the correct BPM through slowing down or speeding up a record so the sound from both turntables is cohesive teaches you agility and brings you closer to the music, as you have to learn to feel and hear these discrepancies.
2. Music Selection – Anybody can visit a music blog or website to download the hottest songs. You could fill a device with 100GB of music and have the club hopping in no time. While this is a good thing, using vinyl teaches you to be selective and careful when choosing records. It forces you to critically think about what would go well together, and what you will take with you for your next gig. This extra care and consideration helps ensure each record and track you choose is important, not just filler.
3. Dedication – It is harder to learn your craft on a traditional turntable, which means it will require more practice, commitment, and dedication. This extra effort will translate into skill and experience that your digital counterpart may lack.
With an extensive background in database programming, Duane Wardell has engaged with clients such as Esoftsolutions, Inc., and Memorial Hermann Healthcare System. A music aficionado, Duane Wardell particularly enjoys taking old school records and doing vinyl mixes.
One of the most enduring aspects of DJ music is its use of sampling old vinyl records, with this approach particularly prevalent in hip hop. An influential source of samples over the decades has been the Dusty Fingers series, which was compiled and released by DJ Danny Dan, “The Beatman” in the early 1990s. He unearthed rare funk, jazz, and pop tunes of the 1960s and 1970s that contained break beats and other musical signatures ideal for modern production.
The Dusty Fingers catalogue of obscure songs has been used liberally by artists up to the present, from Dr. Dre to Eminem. The samples are often combined with rhymes and other digitally created beats to create a sound that pays homage to the past, but still creates something new.
For more than two decades, Oracle-certified professional Duane Wardell has worked in the information technology sector, serving companies such as Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and E-Soft Solutions, Inc. In his leisure time, Duane Wardell is an audiophile and enjoys listening to and mixing vinyl records.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl record sales were up more than 32 percent in 2015, bringing in $416 million in revenue – their highest total in 26 years. While CDs sold more overall units, their retail figures were actually down 17 percent from the prior year.
In comparative terms, the revenue from vinyl record sales last year eclipsed advertising sales from other free music services such as YouTube, Vevo and Spotify’s free service. Paid subscription platforms, however, brought in vastly more revenue that both LP and EP sales.
Vinyl’s resurgence hasn’t gone unnoticed in mainstream retail circles. Urban Outfitters, Barnes & Noble and Whole Foods are just some of the large retail chains that are now carrying records in their stores, and analysts predict that vinyl is poised to show continued growth in the years to come as well.
With extensive experience in database administration, Duane Wardell most recently held a consultancy role with the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System. A fan of old school sound systems and techniques, Duane Wardell enjoys mixing music using vinyl records.
Traditional DJ turntable mixing and scratching requires an extensive record collection paired with an excellent sense of rhythm to understand which beats mesh well together. Unlike newer beatmatching techniques that rely on synced devices and MIDI controls, mixing by ear is a highly intuitive process that keys into the actual mechanical properties of the turntable and the motion of the spinning platter.
Pure sound quality aside, a key advantage of the turntable is that beats per minute can be altered in subtle ways, particularly when a belt-driven turntable is in play. Variables such as wear and tear on the disc also affect the sound that is output. These fluctuations keep the DJ’s listening ear agile and attuned to what is actually being played.
Another turntable-specific tactic is scratching, which sounds best when it involves the actual wax being manipulated relative to the needle. While LPs are much bulkier and require more work to set up than a digital drive, the payoff is in the creation of authentic, non-reproducible sounds.
Duane Wardell worked as a database consultant for nearly 20 years for a variety of corporations and health-care organizations. Outside of his professional pursuits, Duane Wardell enjoys mixing music on vinyl records.
Vinyl is making a comeback for musicians mixing their own music across a variety of genres, including jazz and techno. Vinyl allows for versatility, but it presents some unique challenges that other mediums like CDs do not. Artists mixing on vinyl must be particularly aware of the pressing process by which records are prepared for release. The way in which vinyl records are made affects the sound quality of the music being added to the records.
The process begins with a blank disk composed of aluminum overlaid with acetate plastic. Grooves are placed in the acetate with a mastering lathe. Several negative and positive relief metal molds are made, which eventually result in a stamper.
Once a set of stampers is produced, vinyl can be placed between them and slowly squeezed to make an actual record. The record must then be allowed to sit before being cooled to eliminate the possibility of noisy disks.