Wouldn't it be great to be able to look at your song's listing during a gig and instantly know:
The very basic DJ notation example. This track starts with a melodic sequence with no beats and ends with beats only. Conclusion: the track might be difficult to beat-match into, but on the other hand it will be easy to transition from this track to the next one. A good start of a set, maybe?
The other extreme: a very elaborate DJ notation. This track starts with 23 seconds of beats only. Then a simple melodic sound comes in (still pretty easy to mix in). At 0:46, the track really starts rolling. The DJ shouldn't be doing anything significant until about 6:12 when the final climax breaks down (presumably into a much more orderly melody). From 6:48 on there are only beats. They continue for some (unspecified time) and then they fade out.
You would read the last example out by saying: "beats, zero twenty-three drone, zero forty-six riff, six twelve break down, six forty-eight beats, beats faded out".
See more examples of song notations and even whole DJ sets.
Please note: The notation has a new version, but I still haven't had the time to update this page. Please be patient or kick me.
Beats only, no harmonic sounds. Safe to mix into anything. Many tracks begin and end with these dj-friendly sequences, but definitely not all of them.
No beats, only melody or nonrhythmic sounds. Might be difficult to beat-match.
Beats and melodic/harmonic sounds (but not too melodic). Most techno tracks, for example, will consist mainly of this. When mixing harmonically, it's pretty safe to let two drones of the same key play at the same time. Often it sounds great even if you mix a drone with a (harmonically matching) melody or riff.
Denotes a sequence with tonal/harmonic shifts. Beats might or might not be present. Core of most melodic house and trance songs. Hard to mix, especially into another melody.
Specifies the time at which the next event happens. It needn't be super accurate in most cases: dance music changes in bars so a DJ can guess the precise moment on their own.
Note that the timecode may be let out, but in most cases, it's very handy for planning ahead. It makes sense to record the remaining time (time to end of track) because most CDJs show that by default.
Detuned sounds or melody. Beware! Don't try to mix with anything else but beats unless you're sure what you're doing.
This is a prefix. Put before other marks so it looks like this: "!~" (detuned melody).
Music and/or beats that are fading in, mostly at the beginning of the track. Pain to beat-match or mix.
This is a prefix. Put before "=" or "~" or other marks. This: "<~" means that the track fades in with a melody, without beats.
Music and/or beats that are fading out, mostly at the end of the track. Pain to beat-match or mix. Avoid by a transition before this happens.
This is a postfix. Put after any mark to signify fadeout. This: "->" means that the track fades out with beats only.
Major build up. It's good to transition to a new track before it's first major build-up.
Major and/or final break down. It helps to know when this happens so you can mix in the next track's melody right after the current track's breakdown.