If there's one thing I really hate... no, wait. There's LOTS of things I really hate, who am I kidding? I'm a veritable geyser of annoyance needing a tiny provocation to set me off. OK, here's a thing that I really hate:
People who needlessly complicate simple things, in order to not only big up their own egos, but at the same time raise the barriers of entry to others.
I made a joke, on That Forum about the fact that I started to DJ after dating a DJ/promoter and seeing how piss easy it really was. Of course this ruffled a few feathers of "grrr, it's not easy." Yes it bloody well is. Insert disc. Cue it up. Press play. Repeat. This is *not* exactly rocket science, or brain surgery or even the level of complication of, say, soft boiling an egg.
Yes, that's a vast oversimplification. The *art* of DJing is slightly more complicated than the basic level of skillset of putting on a record. You need at the very least, a fairly deep level of knowledge about (and just plain love of & curiosity about) music, a passing understanding of crowd dynamics, a sense of timing and mood - and - depending on the type of music you play - technical skills to transition smoothly between songs.
But saying such a thing really gets some people's knickers in a twist. I know the type. I met them for the first time, in late adolescence, when I was first learning to play guitar. "You're not a Proper Guitarist unless you can solo" was the type of thing they would say. Meaning shredding, show-off mastubatory Yngwie Malmsteen solos of the type that were fashionable in the late 80s. Now, I came from the Johnny Marr school of guitar playing - the only acceptable type of solo was a riff simple and direct enough that you could sing it.
Aged 16, this gave me pause. But I listened to my Jesus and Mary Chain and my Sonic Youth records and my hardcore punk records and decided that passion was more important than technique, that having something to say ultimately trumped the technical proficiency with which one said it.
By age 21, I had proved my point against the guitar fascists. I was playing regularly in the local indie nightclubs, and had a song on rotation at the local college radio station - all without soloing. (although, as @anna_anna has pointed out, I was eventually featured playing a guitar solo on UK Breakfast TV a couple of years ago.) They could solo, sure, but they did so in their bedrooms and the showrooms of guitar shops.
Which is kind of how I feel about idiots who tell me I'm not a Real DJ coz I don't beatmatch. Um, I'm a "real" DJ because I'm in the booth, I'm making music come through the PA and people on the floor are dancing/enjoying the music I'm playing. Beatmatch all you like in your bedroom, it doesn't make you are "real DJ". Oh yeah, and I play MP3s. What of it? I find it hilarious the way CDJs sneer at MP3 DJs the way vinyl DJs once sneered at CD. Um, what matters is the music that comes out, not how you get that music to the speakers. Of course, what they *really* despise is the declining level of technical skill required to step into the booth and play. Anyone - girls! - even Peaches bloody Geldorf, FFS!!! - can DJ with MP3s! Where's the Cultural Capital in that?
Thing is, as far as I'm concerned, lowering the Barrier To Entry of anything, although it may in the short run produce a glut of not-very-good people on a learning curve, in the long run, it will raise the quality of an art, because with a wider variety of people able to do something, a wider diversity of people attempting it, the chances are increased that one of them will do something of genuine interest or novelty or talent or whatever it is you appreciate in art.
DJ-ing is *easy* now, thanks to technology - and I consider that a *good* thing.
But of course that's hideously offensive to anyone who thinks that something easy means something not worth doing. "You might as well say playing a guitar or pushing keys on a piano or writing a novel is easy!" they sneer. "And if you call anyone with an MP3 player a DJ, you might as well call anyone with a blog a writer or anyone with a camcorder a filmmaker!"
Why not? The test is, really, if you can do it in an engaging enough fashion to get others to listen/read/watch. Are you gonna say a blogger that gets 10,000 hits a day is *not* a proper writer?
The other question is about difficulty, and not just levels of difficulty, but types of difficulty. There are different types of *hardness* - some things are totally skill-based. These are learned skills that take rote repetition and practice to master them. And sorry, but for all the fuss made about beatmatching, it is a rote skill that an animal could learn - I'm waiting for someone to train a woodpecker to tap a target when beats are at the same speed. Would you pay money to watch that? Actually, I bloody well would, that would be well cool, a beat-matching bird.
There's another level of difficulty that involves accumulating knowledge. It's about assembling and organising large amounts of data in a meaningful way. This is where you start to reach human levels of intelligence - a skill that schoolchildren struggle with as they learn to assemble names and dates into the patterns of History. This is what DJs call tune selection - that fingertip knowledge of genre and artist and song and how they all put together. A musician with their repetoire of common material that they have learned by heart. A mathematician with a headful of already proved theorems. (And there's yet another level of difficulty on top of that, which involves using that knowledge and that skill to turn pattern recognition into pattern prediction.)
And then there's that spark of something utterly ineffable that's usually called "talent". Sometimes it's physical (a congenital lengthening of bone that makes someone able to run faster) or genetic (there's a kind of "maths gene" that runs in my family like perfect pitch runs in another) or even just completely random (a person just born with a naturally "beautiful tone" to their voice - the fact that from a young age, I could be put in front of any instrument, and make a tune, while my brother, after a year of lessons, was found to be utterly tone deaf.) A "talent" something that you can - or rather must - *hone* if you have it, but no amount of coaching will create it where none exists.
In any activity, especially artistic ones, it's a combination of all 3 that comes into play. And a combination of all three that makes them difficult or easy.
TO ME (like I have to put this qualification on a blog? Hello, it says in the disclaimer at the bottom this is MY OPINION and nothing more)...
DJing is easy. It's "easier" than playing guitar, certainly, as I've done both. So many less movements to make, so much less to go wrong. You make a decision every 3 minutes and 20 seconds at the most, not 4 times a second (as you do if you're playing even rhythm guitar at 120bpm). And yet, playing a piano is "harder" than both. Why? Because the way that sharps and flats are arranged in separated black notes makes me have to stay constantly aware of what key I'm playing in - when, with fretted instruments, the box structure of playing and the existence of barre chords enables me to play well in an instinctual, purely physical way no matter what key I'm playing in.
Writing a novel? I've found that way easier than ANY of the activities above. But I am aware that this is probably due to the quality of my education, and how much time and effort was spent drilling the basics of grammar and plot structure and character development into my head (endless bloody book reports I hated so much in 5th grade) - though clearly spelling has alwaies ecsaped me. (Not to mention my run-on sentences!)
DJ-ing *IS* easy. (Much easier than I was ever lead to believe by over-protective lads who wanted to keep it for themselves.) That's not to diss DJing (or guitar playing or piano playing or novel-writing!) It's rewarding and fun and enjoyable, or people wouldn't want to do it so much. But the only reason I can think to SO overcomplicate something so easy and so rewarding is to exclude and place barriers in the way of others, in order to preserve some kind of artificially inflated ego-enhancement derided from excluding others. And that I can't stomach.