Digital DJ Tips reader Samuel asks: "Do you know of any kind of 'auto-key' function in Traktor? A function that automatically adjusts the key when I load a song in another key? I mean, Traktor has autogain and autosync, so why isnt there an autokey or autotune feature too? Do you think Native Instruments would be open to suggestions to add this function, as it's something I would definitely use!"
Digital DJ Tips says:
Hi Sam. The answer to your question is: Yes and no! Let me explain, with a bit of background for those who aren't sure what you're asking.
Key is related to tempo - if you speed a track up, it gets higher, and this means its musical key changes. Likewise if you slow it down, it gets lower, and its key also changes. If you apply the keylock option, you can alter the tempo while Traktor holds the key of the track the same. So really (for the sake of everyone else) what Sam's asking is: Is there a way of holding the tempo the same, while changing the key (or "pitch") of a track.
Why would you want to do this? Because it means you could "tune" tracks in to each other, to allow harmonic mixing. So, on to the answer. Yes, it exists, but it's not automatic. If you show the full internal version of the mixer in Traktor, there are key rotaries. These will alter the pitch, and one full number on the rotary is equivalent to one semitone, or moving the track up one key (there's a similar function in Virtual DJ Home). But no, it's not "auto" - while you can use software like Mixed in Key to analyse key and Traktor can display that information, it does not itself "know" what key a track is in, so in its current incarnation it can't do the work for you. You have to know the keys of your tunes and use your ears.
Would they add it?
Would they ever add this? Mmmm, maybe, but the problem with electronically altering the key of a track is that it can sound bad, especially when you change the key to a long way away from the original. If you do it manually, you at least get a chance to hear what it'll sound like, but an auto function implies it'll sound good, and with key-shifting, there's no guarantee this will be the case.
Best to use the manual function, and tread carefully, in my view. A blindly autokeyed set would sound pretty awful.
Would you like to see "autokey" added to DJ software? Or do you think key mixing is a dead-end street? We value your thoughts so let us know in the comments!