Fade to Black

I admit it: I’m a music snob.

That comes as no surprise to those of you who know me. I like some music and other music, I just don’t like. I admit it, I realize some people may not like it, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. In fact, it’s sort of a rite of passage for some – when you pass from loving any song you can dance to to being selective about which songs you want to dance to and which you find completely uninspiring, either because you’ve been around long enough to hear them one too many times or because you’ve developed a sense of taste that reflects your personal preference and dance style.

Anyway, there’s a whole Pandora’s box to be explored concerning music, and for the moment, I’d like to pick just one item: cross-fading.

Cross-fading, as any user of iTunes knows, is when the end of one song overlaps with the beginning of the next – one fades out as one fades in. Personally, I really, really dislike it.

As a dancer, I like a beginning and an ending to my songs – a complete story to my dance – and cross-fading deprives me of both of those. Plus, I like time to finish with one partner, thank her and escort her off the floor, and ask another partner and guide her onto the floor before I’ve missed too much of the next song.

Honestly, I don’t know who thought or still thinks cross-fading is a good idea, but every now and then there’s a DJ who does it, and it irks me to no end. (Of course, waiting more than a second or two between songs irks me as well – where’s the music? why are you letting the energy die?)

So am I alone? Anyone else out there snobbish enough to care about things like cross-fading? Anyone have a personal preference for song transitions? (Song selection? Another topic for another time…) Anyone out there a DJ and have an opinion on this?

3 comments

  1. I agree completely. I went to a dance last night, and while the mix was really good, the DJ faded one tune into the next. It was unsettling, and caused some confusing and inconvenient moments for dancers. I like a tune to end so you can end the dance, escort your partner off the floor, and find another partner perhaps just as the intro to the next song begins. This is how social dancing should be.

  2. Okay, let's see if I can post this time with a brand new gmail account :).I also am not a fan of cross-fading…Um, is the song done? The end of the song is an important social cue. Without a beginning and an end, the songs become long run-on sentences. Reading Faulkner can be challenging because there's no 'breath'….dancing to cross-faded 'Faulknerian' playlists is the same. I think of a whole night of dancing as a series of conversations; with cross-fading, it is no longer a 'series,' but is one long exhausting lecture.Just my two-cents…give me a breath so I can start another interesting conversation on a new topic!

  3. Been there done that. I learned from an old fashioned dj. Someone with 20 years of doing it the old fashioned way. Vinyl and CD's. There is a lot of purpose in a break between songs and break between sets. The first idea is simple to do as you say. Get the floor cleared. In large crowds it takes some time. You can give it some time so there is not a fight and you make it enjoyable.In a formal setting where there progressive dances where the floor is being circled it takes time to get them to circle and get off the floor. My next observation is that its not just the skipping from one to the next song. So it's also how you do it. In the days of Vinyl, and CD's there is spacing, but it's often not observed. The person who mastered that CD had the discretion of setting how you got from one song to the next. They had their own fade out, inter song gap, and song start, intro, outro. They are never the same. So when you transition one song to using cross fade did you clear the gap or did they. Did you get the fade, how long, and who's fade was it?Next there is crowd vibe. Just how exactly and when you switch to the next song is not just building a continuous stream of music. When you've spent time building the electricity in the crowd how do you transition that electricity to something slower without killing the vibe. Some great songs get killed by not letting energy run out before you flip to a different tempo. There is also that process of fading. Sometimes its a quick thing. Sometimes you have to slow outro a long fade song. Whos doing that with the electronic version. The electronic problems get even more interesting when those DJ's realize they have hit that long outro on a song that was also faded into infinity and the have left the crowd hanging… Ack. There is anticipation. There is a moment when flipping that song can build something electric in the crowd. Hitting that charge button is just flat out awesome.Software is not good about it. It will just spin up the next song and run it. But what about the intro. Did you dial in to the first of the song or did you just let them intro. One of my favorite things to do was to fade out and get that magic moment then hit them with the best shot. Man when that groove is on. It's on!Oh and there is the level thing. There is nothing worse than volume leveling and a fader that was never used. So you spent all that time building the groove and bam. The levels are too low or high and you've caught them hanging. What the heck is that DJ doing everyone says? Then you see some guy racing across the floor to catch their mistake and try and fix it. When you do the job. Do the job. You can come down once in a while for good friend after you spun it up and you know where the mix is going. But if your not watching it.. Man. I could keep going.. But I'm on right on track with you Eric. There are dj's with skill!! And then there are the others..

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