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The History of DJing

The history of DJing, or the act of selecting and playing pre-recorded music for a live audience, can be traced back to the early 20th century with the advent of radio broadcasting and sound recording technology. However, it was not until the 1970s that DJing as we know it today, with the use of turntables and vinyl records, emerged as a distinct art form and cultural phenomenon.

One of the earliest pioneers of DJing was a man named Martin Block, who hosted a radio program called "Make Believe Ballroom" in the 1930s. Block would play records for his listeners and pretend that they were live musicians performing in a ballroom, hence the name of the show. This concept of pretending that recorded music was live would later become a staple of DJ culture.

In the 1950s and 1960s, as the popularity of rock and roll and soul music grew, so did the role of the DJ in clubs and dance parties. DJs began to use multiple turntables and sound systems to create seamless transitions between songs and to keep the party going. They also started to incorporate various techniques such as beatmatching and scratching, which involve manipulating the speed and pitch of the records to create new sounds.

One of the most influential figures in the development of modern DJing is a man named Kool Herc. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Herc immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and started throwing parties in the Bronx, New York. It was at these parties that Herc started to use two turntables to extend the breaks in records, which were the instrumental sections that dancers particularly enjoyed. This technique, known as "breakbeat DJing," became the foundation of hip hop music and culture, and Herc is often credited as the "father of hip hop."

As DJing became more popular and sophisticated, it also started to branch off into different subcultures and genres. In the 1980s and 1990s, the emergence of electronic dance music (EDM) and rave culture brought about the rise of the "DJ as performer," with DJs becoming the main attraction at events and festivals. The use of technology, such as DJ software and digital audio workstations, also allowed for greater creativity and innovation in the art of DJing.

Today, DJing is a widespread and diverse art form that continues to evolve and innovate. It has influenced numerous other genres of music and has become a mainstay in popular culture. From its humble beginnings as a radio show gimmick to its current status as a respected and influential art form, the history of DJing is a rich and fascinating one.


"Martin Block." Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed December 22, 2022.

"Kool Herc." Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed December 22, 2022.

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