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The Origin of DJ's

The Origin of DJ
Posted on : Monday, May 10, 2010
Words : DJ Francis Marchi
Editorial Type : Article
Related to : Music

Custom-made double turntable built in 1955 by Edward P. Casey of the Bronx, New York.The DJ has in fact been with us since Christmas Eve 1906, when a colleague of Edison became the first person to play a record over the airwaves.

The club DJ dates back as far as the forties, when French Resistance types played jazz records to irritate the Nazis, and an unhinged Yorkshireman named Jimmy Savile figured that people might pay good money to dance records rather than a band.

From these less than promising beginnings, DJing has evolved into a worldwide spectator sport, creating a universe of dancefloor cabbages and turntable kings.

The dance rags won't let us forget that the DJ is now a superstar. All earning a grand a night minimum, plus an extra plane ticket for their personal publicist and a limo for their hairdresserīs dog.

But besides generating a new way of being an overpaid pop star, why is the disc jockey important? what most people miss is that the DJ has played a huge part in the evolution of music.

Pop culture historians have chosen to ignore this in favor of churning out 400 page hardback re-evaluations of John Lennon's choice of piano stool.

But once you sit down and examine DJ-ing in a properly historical sense you realize that for 50 years or more the disc jockey has been the main player in extending music's possibilities House, garage, techno, drum'n'bass, and all their rug rat offspring?

Created by DJs, of course. Who made the disco? DJs With big speakers. Hip hop? DJs cutting it up in the boggie down. What about rock'n'roll?

Just a new name for itself was only born because radio DJs bought together all sorts of otherwise unconnected local black styles.

In the century since he invented himself, the DJ has been a constant fixture in the patent office of popular music.
The rock bores will try and tell you that a DJ can only play existing records, he can't create anything unless a musician has already thought of it.

But this ignores the fact that you can make something new by selecting, by combining, highlighting. And thatīs exactly what the DJ does.

He searches constantly for music to keep his dancefloor moving, forcing existing sounds onto brand new highways, all the while throwing things together like no band could ever do.

In his spare time the DJ dreamt up entirely new ways of recording music, perverting technology to support his idea of musical collage.He snatched the keys to the recording studio and his star rose and rose.

The music industry, suspicious at first,fell in love with him for the way he could remix a song into. Or for the way certain DJs had become brand names that could sell collections of otherwise anonymous tracks to the masses.

And when it all kicked in for the second summer of love, the DJ found himself at the heart of a global entertainment revolution, leaving in its drug-and-dance-filled wake social change big enough to make politicians shudder.

DJ-ing is not just about choosing a few tunes.It's about understanding the feelings of a group of people and taking them somewhere special.

Music is a potent force and, just like any jazz genius, the DJ uses it to direct the emotions of his audience to A better place.

A great DJ is every bit an improvisational musician, just that in place of notes he has songs, in place of a masterful 30 second solo he has an earth-moving two, five or even eight hour sequence of records.

We know he's only mortal but when he wipes away our every day lives with holy drums and sanctified basslines, we are quite prepared to think of the DJ as a God and reward him accordingly. 

Source: The International Disc Jockey Trade Association (IDTA). New York City (USA).

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