How to Use Beat Grids in Traktor 3

2013-06-27

Traktor DJ Studio 3 is a vinyl emulation software that was created to revolve the DJ´s world. Along with another version called Traktor Scratch Pro, they make an amazing duo.

Traktor 3 and its different versions are by far the most chosen software to work by professional DJ´s and fans. The distribution of the keys has been made in a way that the operator feels comfortable working on it but if that wasn´t enough, it gives you the opportunity to distribute them the way you want.

It is free and fast to download, don´t mess around anymore, Traktor 3 is the program you´ve been looking for to create that full disco effect in your parties.

Hey there, fellow Digital DJs! Today, we are going to be looking at Beat Grids in Traktor. This program used to be called Traktor DJ Studio and now it's just Traktor.

Basically, when Traktor analyzes a song, it creates an overview of hashmarks which indicate the peak of a waveform where there most likely is a beat. The program uses these marks to figure out what the BPM of the song is and to help you automatically drop synchronized loops in time. However, in breakdowns and in songs with more difficult rhythmic material, you’re gonna need to drop a beatmarker and perfect a beat grid to really define the exact BPM of a song and to make sure all of your loops are perfect every time.

In order to quickly do this, I’ve created a set of hotkeys for you to get us through the process more efficiently. After you’ve set these up, go back into the program, go up to the Settings window, then Hotkey setup.

There, you’ll find a place to load your list.

Once this is all set up, we can take a peek at how this works. As you’ll probably notice, the hotkeys are set up across the top of the keyboard so you can use two hands. On the left side, we have Drop Cue, Drop Beatmarker, and Lock/Unlock a Beatmarker. Meanwhile on the right, we’ve got Move the Grid Right, Move the Grid Left, Pause, and Play.

Here’s how this works. First, we need to set a beatmarker. I like to do this on a snare because it has the best chance of lining up with other songs. I’ll use the circled nudge button to figure out just where the top of that snare is and then drop the beatmarker there.

You’ll notice then that all of the lines after that beatmarker have shifted. If I unlock the beatmarker, you’ll notice that the hashmarks are on the peak with the beatmarker:

The grid has now changed. It’s now been created based off of the start point that I created and it’s laid across the whole song based on the tempo that it thinks the track is. In order to perfect this grid, we need to adjust the tempo.

Next, we’re just going to go through and take a look. Notice that as we get further along the hashmark and the hashmark of the beatgrid, the beat of the actual song are starting to get further and further apart.

What you want to do to remedy this is use the Move Grid Right key once you have it up against those lines. After this, move a little bit further down into the song.

Once we get to the end of the song, these grids and beats should be aligned perfectly, as such:

Double-check by going back through the song to make sure everything is still good. We have a perfect beatgrid.

Now we can drop a loop in anywhere into the song and it’ll be perfectly in time.

Next, we’re gonna drop some cue markers. While a beatmarker is a great way to keep your track in time, we want to visually see what’s happening in the song without hearing it first.

For this, I use cue point. Let’s drop a cue point on the first beat. Again, I’m going to want to make sure that, if I play this, I want to make sure that the cue point is placed on the first beat of the rhythm. So I am going to lock that into place before moving onto the next one.

But first, I don’t want a standard cue marker (which is indicated by the blue icon at the top). I want to go ahead and make that a load marker. This means that, each time this song is loaded in Traktor, it will load directly to this point. I won’t have to look for it again. This is very helpful.

Next, I want to find the point in the song where something happens. I’ve found the beat intro, but where does the music come in? Once I find this spot, I drop a cue point onto that beat and locked it. Let’s go ahead and find the next point where some change comes into the song, and mark it accordingly, as well.

I always check my cue points to make sure that they’re put down at rhythmic points so that--were I to juggle it or jump quickly to that point--it’s going to make sense and play correctly. Now, I know this song has some vocals at some point, so if I’m dropping an a capella over this instrumental, I’m going to want a visual reference that I need to get out by this point. So let’s try to find that vocal track.

Now, if I want to really give myself a clear visual marker of 1.) “That’s a point where I need to be!” or 2.) “I am/am not done mixing at this point!”, I can change that marker to an Out, which’ll give me a red indicator that tells me, “Hey bud, you need to be out of the mix by this point.”

After this red marker, I’m going to drop one more cue point at the musical breakdown in case I want to jump directly to that spot. An easy way to do this is to play a clip a few moments before the breakdown, time it by counting, and drop the marker right onto the start of the breakdown.

Cool! So now I’ve got a clear visual reference of where different parts of the song comes in, so I can make sure I’m mixing at the right points, I’m out at the right points, what-have you. I’ve got a perfect beatgrid laid out. I might drop a loop in advance and lock that. I’ll show you how to do that.

First, right-click open the Loop Set guide. Now, let’s presume that we want to add a 16-bar loop at the beginning of this track.

First, let’s turn on Snap. With Snap on, the loop is going to lock to this grid. With it off, it’s not going to lock anywhere but where you happen to drop the loop. Both have their advantages.

Change the beat settings at the bottom to 16.

Go ahead and click Set. This illuminates the button where you changed the beat settings to 16 earlier.

In the beginning of Traktor’s timeline, you can see where the loop’s starting. We can see that the entire intro lasts for 32 counts. That’s pretty good. I’m gonna go ahead and lock this into place.

Now, I’m going to go to my current playlist and find the song that I’m currently playing. In order to save these changes I’m making to this .mp3 so they never get lost, I am going to right-click the song and select the Write File Tags option.

Usually, I do this at the end of a session. Currently playing notifies you what songs you’re working with, so you can select those songs all at once and batch edit them with Write File Tags. This ensures that all of the work I’ve just done doesn’t get lost in the future. Each time I load these tracks up, they’ll be ready to rock ‘n roll and I won’t have to think about it at all.