March 25th, 2013
News & Opinion
DJ Rap with her musical credentials emblazoned across her chest… but how important is it for ‘everyday’ DJs to be able to read, write or play music?
A reader asked whether it’s possible to be a good DJ without also being a musician, or without being able to play a musical instrument, which I thought was an excellent question. (Thanks, Kevin!)
In order to answer Kevin’s question, we need to look at two distinct types of musical teaching/learning, and also delve a little into the nature of what DJing is (and isn’t). We’ll also discover that the answer to this question depends on how far you want your DJing to take you…
February 8th, 2013
RekordKrate a new iOS app to assist with choosing that next track in the mix.
It’s a long time since DJs moved away from well-thumbed records boxes as their music library system. Nowadays, laptop and iOS DJs, of course, tend to select their tunes through lists, virtual crates, smart crates and so on. But for pro and semi-pro DJs playing from USBs plugged in to CDJs in dark clubs, all they had to replace their lovingly packed record boxes were small LCD displays on CDJ players.
The new RekordKrate app aims to put some of the big-screen library navigating power enjoyed by laptop DJs into the hands of USB (and CD) DJs, by allowing them to use their iPads (and soon iPhones and Android devices) to browse their music libraries easily. Crucially, it also allows them to quickly choose a next song based on harmonic key and BPM.
January 5th, 2013
Software such as Mixed In Key has popularised harmonic mixing for DJs, but it’s not the only way to slice and dice your music for your DJ sets.
Digital DJ Tips reader David writes: “I’m confused! I’ve spent the past few months researching the art of digital DJing, having followed your Learn To DJ Free email course and purchased the How To Digital DJ Fast video learning. I have also catalogued a lot of my collection using Mixed in Key, and have worked on small mixes using djay.
“I have a lot of chilled Ibiza-style tunes and was thinking of moving through a set from say a Crazy P tune (Sweet Feeling) taking in some old skool soul (George Benson, Soul II Soul) and then moving onto some funkier Fred Falke/Louis la Roche, then slowing down towards the end of the set. I guess I need to get the structure of the set sorted in my head! But in particular, I think I’m focusing too much on getting the key changes right, whilst wanting to get some specific tunes in… am I over complicating it? Should I just let the music do the talking?”
November 14th, 2012
Mixed in Key’s new iMashup brings its Mashup software to iPad users.
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at mashups but never felt confident enough to do it, then maybe you’ve already heard of Mixed In Key Mashup. Now the company has launched an iOS version: iMashup.
It’s a trimmed down take on the full-strength package (here’s our original review of Mixed in Key Mashup if you’re interested) – perfect for those on the move or without access to a laptop. So how easy is it to use and what are the results like? Let’s take a closer look…
May 28th, 2012
News & Opinion
by DJ Stone Crazy
Try what you want to deflect it, sometimes you may have no choice but to play patrons' requests. Getting it done without ruining your DJ set is one thing harmonic mixing can help with. Pic: No Breasts, No Requests
Back at the start of my DJ career, I read a book called How to DJ Right: The Art and Science of Playing Records (I completely recommend it to any new DJ, by the way). Of all the styles of mixing it discusses, the one that I grabbed and ran with the most was harmonic mixing, which opened my eyes to many mixing possibilities.
This isn’t the place to explain harmonic mixing (head over to The 123 Of Mixing In Key for that), but the absolute basic is that every song has one main “note” which it comes back to over and over again – and some “notes” mix well others. (It’s a bit more complicated than that, but as I say this isn’t an article to explain it all. You get the idea.)
May 17th, 2012
BPM detection... the old way! Luckily, for the iOS DJ there are better tools to use nowadays that go a lot further than counting beats with a hand clicker.
While I was loading tracks into various iOS DJing apps last week, I started wondering if there were apps that could help DJs work out the key and BPM of any music, not just digital files. Why would this be useful? Well, say you’re playing after a CD or vinyl DJ. Wouldn’t it be good to whip out your iPhone and quickly detect the BPM (and even the key) of the last track played, then effortlessly blend your next track in, perfectly harmonically matched and on the beat, as you take over digitally?
Or, if you’re a DJ who plays some music from digital, but you also use CDs and vinyl, wouldn’t it be nice to quickly “key” and BPM an old vinyl tune for easy mixing into your set, without having to rip it and run it through laptop key and BPM/DJ software? Turns out all of this is possible. Let’s look at some of your options:
February 7th, 2012
Keyfinder detects musical key, but also lets you get under the bonnet to see how it's done it.
Intrigued by key mixing, or “harmonic mixing”? Want to try it out without spending money on an established piece of software such as Mixed in Key or beaTunes? If so, you may be interested in Keyfinder, an open-source key detection program for Mac and (in beta) for Windows too.
It’s not as polished as Mixed in Key or beaTunes, but it’s easy enough to use, and anecdotally produced results which are in the same ballpark as far as accuracy goes. Let’s take a closer look…
January 7th, 2012
The key rotaries in Traktor - but you'll have to do the adjustments manually as there's no auto function.
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!”
September 30th, 2011
Mixed in Key 5 comes with a tutorial to make introducing this technique into your digital DJing as simple as possible.
Mixed In Key 5 (US$58) is the latest version of the market-leading key mixing program, which allows DJs to exploit this advanced and highly musical technique in the planning and playing of their DJ sets. Claiming such big names as David Guetta and Pete Tong as regular users, it is the most heavily marketed of the key detection systems currently available to DJs.
Adding a music player, key search engine, multi-key detection, better file compatibility (M4A and MP4 are added), and a claimed improvement in accuracy, Mixed In Key 5 also appears to be the most complete version of the software to date. Let’s put it through its paces.
May 27th, 2011
Using simple software and this clever little visual aid, any DJ can easily mix in key.
You may have heard “mixing in key”, or “harmonic mixing”, mentioned by DJs. You may even be dimly aware of what it means – that it’s about making sure tunes match musically in order to mix them more smoothly.
But if you’ve never done this before, you may think it’s hard to do, or that if you’re not able to play a musical instrument, you’ll not be able to work out all the stuff with scales and notes that’s necessary to achieve this type of mix. Luckily, nothing could be further from the truth, and today, we’ll show you how you too can use harmonic mixing in your sets.
May 20th, 2011
The yellow musical note in Traktor Pro 2 that tells you your track is "keylocked" - but what are the dos and don'ts of keylocking?
Several readers have asked about keylocking recently. This is typical, from Max in Serbia/Montenegro: “I know what keylock does and how it works but I (and a lot of other DJs) have no idea when I am supposed to use it. If there are certain guidelines or ‘rules’, it would be awesome if you helped us get educated about that because there isn’t much info about it on the net.”
If you’re one of those DJs who always looks at that little “keylock” button but feels unsure about how or when to use it, this is for you: