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How to DJ with Acapellas
27th October, 2021
How to DJ with Acapellas?

Learning to DJ with acapellas is a great way to make your performance unique, and make sure your mix stands out. But, it can also be quite tricky. So many DJs often overlook the preparation required, or just don’t know how to apply them tastefully into a mix.

So in this article we’re going to go over a few tips for DJing with Acapellas and some of the best ways to use them in your mix!

What is an acapella?

If you’re not sure what we mean when we talk about acapellas, it’s essentially an audio track that only includes the vocals. That is, without the instruments, and usually without any added effects applied during the mixing process such as reverb, EQ, or delays.

Hence, acapella’s are the perfect foundation to build a remix around, just like they’re ideal for layering over an instrumental of another song to create a banging mashup! For a more detailed look on acapellas and where to find them check out our article here or the video below.

Top Tips for DJing with Acapellas

Mix in Key

Going back to Harmonic Mixing, you want to make sure that both the acapella and the song you’re mixing it with are in the same key. Doing this will mean the two tracks are much more likely to mesh well together and don’t sound out of place while you’re mixing on stage. There are some cases where you can break the rules of harmonic mixing, but definitely keep this in mind!

If you don’t know how to tell what key your song is, there are some great tools online to check this such as TuneBat. This will help you make sure your songs are going to work with each other before you attempt to DJ with your chosen acapellas.

Don’t use an acapella in a vocal section of the song

It might sound obvious to some, but you don’t want to use your acapella at the same time there are vocals playing in the original song. The two tracks are more than likely going to clash and they just aren’t going to sound nice on the ears. So keep your acapella for tracks without vocals, or during the instrumental sections of the song, or when you’re transitioning to something else.

Not all acapellas work with all songs

Lastly, not all acapellas work with all songs. They might be in the same key, but some songs just don’t go together. So use the ear that got you into DJing in the first place and make sure your songs go together before you use them on stage!

Use Effects

Most of the time when you grab an acapella online, it’s going to be dry vocals without any of the effects you’ll find in a polished song. Which is why you don’t want to leave the audio plain when you play it during your set. Make use of your effects such as Reverb, Delay and EQ to give your vocal track a different and more exciting sound.

Live Mashups

The first technique to DJ with acapellas is to perform live mashups! Now I don’t suggest you jump on stage, load up a song, press play on an acapella and hope for the best. There are a few things you want to do in advance before you do this in front of a crowd.

Firstly, you want to have your acapella loaded and analysed in your DJ Software. You want to follow all the above tips we mentioned, making sure your acapella is in key, and also matching the BPM so it doesn’t go out of time. From there, I’d suggest listening through to your acapella, and setting some cue points for important and interesting parts of the song.

This will allow you to use your FX Pads to drum out some melodies using excerpts of your acapella track. Then, make a neat transition into the full verse of the song once the drop lands on the original instrumental.

Transitions

We touched on it lightly but acapellas are a great way to spice up your transitions from one song into another. Use the build-up of one song to introduce the vocals of your acapella, then transition into the new song with the same vocals on the drop. Essentially, you’re creating another live mashup here and will want to let the vocals go for about the first verse before fading or scratching out the vocals and loading up your next track.

Scratching

Sure, you could just let your acapella play through. But, it’s not always that exciting. Incorporating scratching with your acapella can really turn things up and allow you to create some cool new rhythms with your vocals if you do it intently.

Every DJ should learn how to scratch, and if you don’t know how yet, I definitely recommend spending some time practicing. But if not, that’s okay. Because you can still use your FX pads to bash out some really cool and original rhythms with your cue points.

how to dj with acapella

How to DJ with Acapellas – The Final Say

Finally, trust your ears when it comes to learning to DJ with acapellas!

When it comes to all things DJing, it’s important to trust your ears! You can read as many articles as you want but if you try something and it sounds like it belongs in the bin, it probably does. It’s always a good idea to practice new techniques like this at home before you hit the stage as well. Recording and listening back to your sets is a great way to really see how something sounds. You might think it sounds good while you’re in your element but then when you listen back you might pick up on some things you could have done differently!

Where to find the best free acapellas?

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