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The History of DJing: How a Hobby Became a Global Industry

Introduction: How the DJ Came to Be

The history of DJing is long and fascinating. It started off in the early 20th century with improvised music played by live bands. Early DJs (or disc jockeys) were often the band’s drummer, who would play records on a gramophone between sets. At that time, the term “deejay” was used instead of “disc jockey” or “DJ.”

As years went on, the sound engineering equipment and methods became more sophisticated and DJs were able to play two records simultaneously to extend the breaks between songs. By the 1970s, these DJs began to use technology like effects units and synthesizers to augment their music selections.

What is DJing?

The DJ is responsible for manually selecting records, mixing the tracks together, and giving the dancers their music.

It was originally called “turntablism” and it was done by scratching vinyl records.

DJs use turntables or CDJs to play music that they or others mix together through combining two or more tracks (a DJ might call these "imports" or "mixes"). The resulting sound can be a harmony of all the individual tracks, an entirely new song altogether or any variation thereof.

The Creation of the Turntable

So, what about turntables? When did those come into the picture? The invention of the turntable is a complicated story. We’ll have to go back to the “record player” to get the full story.

The first record player was invented back in 1877 by Thomas Edison as a device that would allow people to hear recorded sound from cylinders. The first record player that could play those cylinders at a greater speed was invented by Charles Cros in 1877 as well. In 1899, Karl Emil Berliner created the “gramophone” - a new type of phonograph that used flat disks instead of cylinders for recording sound.

These eventually evolved into modern vinyl players. Though it’s not a direct tie into the turntable and modern DJ equipment, it is an interesting part of history.

A Brief History of DJing

It is hard to say when DJing, as we know it, officially started. Some people believe that it began in the early 1920s while others argue that it started in the late 1940s. There are also some people who say that DJing originated from radio stations in the 1960s.

Regardless of the exact date, what is known is that since then, DJs have had a huge impact on music and culture for more than 60 years.

Who are some of the most popular DJs?

DJs are often seen as the face of the music industry. The most popular DJs are not just some “music makers”. They are the ones who have the power to make or break music trends.

The DJ is responsible for controlling the tempo of a song, thus dictating its overall feel. He/she also has the power to switch tracks at any point without warning, which can lead to an abrupt change in mood and energy levels.

One of the earliest examples of a DJ is Theodore “Grand Wizzard Theodore” Livingston, who was born on March 5th, 1963 and was one of the first people to use two turntables simultaneously.

There’s no point in picking the best DJ of all time; that comes down to opinion but we could look at some noteworthy DJs and give them some praise.

  1. Kool Herc

  2. DJ Shadow

  3. Grandmaster Flash

  4. David Guetta

...Just to name a few.

The Future of DJing

So, where is DJing headed? Perhaps that is up to YOU. It’s never too late to get into the game.

BestDealsDj has everything you need to start your DJing journey. Get your gear from our online store today!

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