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Abstract

heoretical background: DJing is considered a virtuoso performance art that involves specific musical and extra-musical skills. In addition to technical understanding and basic knowledge of DJ setup handling, mixing-the musical design of the transition of two or more songs or samples-is arguably the most important skill (e.g., Broughton & Brewster, 2002). DJs or DJanes are defined as turntable instrumentalists or real time composers, following Vandemast-Bell (2013). Few studies have been conducted on the acquisition of expertise by this group of individuals, which is why the present interview study was initiated with four techno DJs or DJanes (see Heye, Gebert & Gembris, 2019). Two central research questions were of interest: 1. Which musical as well as extra-musical factors and aspects are addressed by the interviewees in relation to their acquisition of expertise? and 2. Which practice strategies or practices do they use to acquire, maintain, and further develop skills and abilities in their field? Methods: To answer the research questions, an exploratory interview study was conducted with four semi-professional techno DJs or DJanes (2 female and 2 male) and content analyzed. Results: The qualitative results reveal various musical as well as extra-musical skills and abilities that the DJs or DJanes acquire in their self-taught learning process. As specific musical skills, the interviewees mentioned mixing as well as track selection. As an extra-musical skill, crowd reading is important for the acquisition of expertise - the communicative ability of a DJ or DJane to "read" the mood of the dancing audience during a live set and to react to it musically. From the qualitative data on the learning process or acquisition of expertise, it appears that these three dimensions are closely related. In contrast to learning a conventional instrument, such as piano, DJs' purposeful practice is necessarily linked to public performances, because only in the live situation can the dimension of crowdreading be practiced and further developed in interaction with the two dimensions of track selection and mixing. Discussion: The possible interrelationships of the central dimensions were presented in a heuristic model, which is the starting point for the discussion. In addition, the findings point to various gender aspects in the field of DJing activity. Due to the limitations of the study, the findings initially provide only circumstantial evidence on the acquisition of expertise, which needs to be verified in further research. Against the background of the conference topic, the aspect of social interaction between DJ or DJane with the audience during the live situation is taken up in the discussion.

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