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…
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?”
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.)
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…
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 6th, 2011
Like it or not, digital DJing has put some awesome tools into the hands of today's generation of DJs. No surprise the old school get up in arms about some of them.
Digital DJing has put the once expensive, elitist art of DJing right into the grubby hands of the masses. Now anyone with a laptop and a free copy of Virtual DJ Home can spin in their bedrooms, at parties, and even at “proper” gigs.
But while the new tools of digital DJing give true music fans the chance to spin great DJ sets when otherwise they probably wouldn’t even have tried, the same tools in the wrong hands can wreak havok in the DJ box.
August 31st, 2010
Palm Beach made a great venue for me to test out mixing in key for the first time.
In my Mixed in Key Review – Part 1, I looked at the theory behind mixing in key and how Mixed in Key (US$58) can help DJs to take advantage of harmonic mixing to play better sets. In this part I’m going to put it all to the test by DJing at a proper gig for the first time using the Mixed in Key / Camelot wheel system.
I’ve got only one rule: every mix has to be harmonically matched using my new-found musical data. I’m about to show you all the mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourself!
August 30th, 2010
Pete Tong endorses Mixed in Key; as a DJ tool it is definitely worth at least considering it for improving your sets.
Mixing in key is something that lots of DJs vaguely know they ought to have a go at. Top DJs mention mixing in key, and many commercial mix CDs use key mixing. In some scenes, like trance, where the melodic content of music is really important, mixing in key is quite widely accepted; and for all DJs, it can make your mixes smoother and more professional-sounding.
Nonetheless, for most mixing in key with software like Mixed in Key remains somewhere between a mystery and an ideal. While some DJs come from a musical background, many don’t, and for those, any tool that can help them do it must be worth investigating.
May 14th, 2010
Tools and software help you to mix in key, but is it really worth the trouble?
Mixing in key used to be a happy case of trial and error. In the old days, DJs would find tracks that just “went” well together musically, and basically remember them, repeating the trick whenever they could. (For the uninitiated, mixing in key simply means mixing two records that are recorded in the same or a related musical scale.)
Dropping an acapella over an instrumental in the same key was indeed good fun, and sometimes you’d find bass lines that matched perfectly. Otherwise, it was just a case of knowing your tunes and picking good mix points, regardless of musical key.