Art of Deejaying, WK 11 – Beatgrids

Welcome to SKAH DJ Blog! Our focus is on beatgrids this week. Have you ever wondered what beatgrids are? Of what use are beatgrids? Why do I need to set beatgrids for the tracks in my library? Well, this article answers all these questions and more.

Beatgrids, simply put, are series of markers that point to the location of beats within a track. It is important to set beatgrids in other to use advanced deejaying features such as autosync, auto/manual loop, loop roll, beatjumps, slicer, effects and to get an accurate BPM value. So you will miss out on all these advanced deejaying features or you will not be able to use them properly, in time and synchronized, if the beatgrid of your tracks are not properly aligned. A properly aligned beatgrid reduces the software dependency on averaged BPM value, which may not be sufficiently accurate for the software to use effectively. It also assists the software lock onto the markers in order to use advanced deejaying functions such as slicer amongst others.

When you purchase a new track from iTunes, Beatport or any other online store, usually the next step is to import the track into your DJ software library and analyze the track thereafter. Most DJ software are equipped with algorithms that enable them determine the BPM of the track, set beatgrids and determine the key. However, these algorithms are not always accurate hence the need to manually adjust the beatgrid which usually changes the BPM of the track. You can also correct the key of a song but our focus in this article is correcting the beatgrid and realigning the beatgrid.

See below the possible scenarios of beatgrid and BPM errors:

Incorrect Downbeat Marker

In this scenario, the BPM is correct and the beatgrid markers are in equidistance to one another. The problem is the downbeat (that is, the first beat of the track) is not properly aligned to the beatgrid.

Step 1: Navigate to the beatgrid editor mode of your DJ software

Step 2: Align the downbeat to the first beatgrid marker. The remaining beatgrid markers will automatically move and adjust to the correct and subsequent beats of the track.

Step 3: Save and exit.

This error is usually due to lengthy vocal intro before the downbeat, which confuses the software to misalign the beatgrid. However, in this instance, the BPM is correct in value even before re-aligning the beatgrid.

Incorrect Beatgrid

In this scenario, both the BPM and beatgrid are incorrect. Usually, analyze function or algorithm might be confused by the arrangement of the track in terms of intro, vocal, beats and so on. To correct this;

Step 1: Navigate to the beatgrid editor mode of your DJ software

Step 2: Locate the downbeat of the track (first beat, beginning of the first bar) and set the first beatgrid marker.

Step 3: Play the track from the first beat counting one to four along with the track to locate the beginning of the second bar of the track.

Step 4: Set the second bar beatgrid marker at this point OR move the second bar beatgrid marker using the adjust button to move forward or backwards as required. You will notice a change in BPM as you do this.

Step 5: Repeat Steps 3 and 4 till the beatgrid of the entire track is properly aligned or till the end of track (which ever comes first).

Step 6: Save and exit.

The BPM value is already known as a value.

You are certain that the BPM of a track is incorrect and you probably know the correct BPM from using maybe your friend’s laptop to deejay or the club/radio laptop to deejay. Manually edit the BPM by entering the correct BPM value. The beatgrid should automatically align with the track. However, if you have an incorrect beatgrid marker error, use the three steps listed above in the ‘incorrect beatgrid marker scenario’ to correct this error.

The BPM value is double or half the real.

The same steps apply if the BPM value is double or half the correct BPM as listed in the previous scenario. Just divide or multiply the incorrect BPM by two as the case may be. If you have an incorrect beatgrid marker error, use the three steps listed above in the ‘incorrect beatgrid marker scenario’ to correct this error.

See below a demonstration video by DJ Kcydal using Serato DJ in the offline mode (that is, no Serato DJ enabled hardware is connected) you can also edit beatgrids with your Serato DJ enabled hardware connected.

See below links to Beatgrid tutorials for some of the top DJ software:

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Stay tuned for the next article.


NB: Serato DJ Beatgrid Editor Shortcuts

Action Keyboard Mouse
Open Beatgrid Editor alt + spacebar
Exit Beatgrid Editor Esc
Save Beatgrid Changes Enter
Set Beat Warp Marker x alt + double click
Clear Beat Marker Delete
Clear all Beatgrid Shift + Delete
Adjust (Contract/Stretch) Beatgrid Arrow Keys alt + click & drag a white bar marker
Large Adjust (Contract/ Stretch) Beatgrid Shift + Arrow Keys
Slip Beatgrid Control + Arrow Keys alt + click & drag the red downbeat marker
Large Slip Beatgrid Shift + Control + Arrow Keys


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