Home Forums The DJ Booth How important do you think it is to mix in key?

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  • #1007934
    Phil Morse
    Keymaster

    DJs nowadays can use harmonic mixing – mixing in key – more easily than ever. Have you tried it? How important do you think it is to do it? Or do you think it detracts from other, more important considerations when deciding “what to play next”?

    #1007935
    DJ Yaka
    Participant

    I think it depends on what sort of set you are performing. If you mix in key it definatly sounds better, less key clashes etc….

    But if you are mixing in …. lets say your average bar, i.e top 40 hits, i think song selection is more important.

    But if you are performing a full on club set in a club, then to me i would seriously consider mixing in key, as it will “help” make your mixes sound a lot smother

    Thats what i do anyway 🙂

    #1007939
    DJimC
    Participant

    With DJ software that enables you to adjust the key of your song on-the-fly, there’s really not much of a reason not to mix in key. I know VirtualDJ can do this quite well, not sure about the others. An adjustment of half a tone (i.e. C#m to Cm) often won’t distort the song too much and it allows you to choose from 8 out of 12 possible keys instead of 3 out of 12 without adjusting your key.

    When making playlists, I also use the key as a second filter (after genre) to narrow down my music collection a bit before checking which song would sound great next. This is also a great tool when I have to pick a song live without a prepared playlist.

    #1007948
    synthet1c
    Member

    It’s a trap! mixing in key sounds safe and stops you from developing the ability to pick a good track from your memory. The best mixes I have ever come across have no business being together key wise but work absolutely perfectly. I you have a hunch about what will work run with it, don’t worry about the key try it otherwise you will sound exactly the same as the million other dj’s who play the same tracks and rely on the key to choose their next song.

    If your not original you better be damn pretty or well connected because literally anyone can go to a popular blog and steal music, sync tracks on pirated software and rely on key matching or genius to choose their next song. If you develop your own identity people can copy your setlist but no one can copy the spontaneity and the musical knowledge that you have earned, that’s were you value lies otherwise there can be any good looking autopilot dj doing it.

    #1007963
    Terry_42
    Keymaster

    I have mixed in key and have my collection analyzed and it totally depends on the situation if I use it.

    In a club or a bar with dancy feeling: I use it when I can, but song selection is more important and my energy rating comes first as it is about “controlling emotions”.

    At a wedding: Totally ignore it. It is the happy day of the bride and groom, so I play whatever I can see makes them happy aka song selection will always win.

    In a lounge type bar or sunday afternoon chillout session: Especially when I play deep house / belearic / italo house I mix in key. As I saw it is more harmonic for the audience. I still get them to shuffle with how I arrange the key changes, but being “harmonic” does mean I do not disturb their conversations etc. with a hard crossover…. in this environment I also mostly “blend songs” as nicely as I can and use very few tricks or effects and almost no samples. So it is kinda minimalistic mixing in key.

    #1007967
    DJXKhan
    Member

    I have been mixing in key for a little over a month now. Its a tool. I have yet to play out so I dont know how a crowd would respond but I use it a lot. Not all the time but I would say since I downloaded mixed in key I line up my play list by key and then Bpm. I definitely improved the overall sound of my mixes. Before mixed in key I would have the beats matched and all and some transitions just would not sound right. I don’t run into that much anymore.

    #1008023
    Steelo
    Participant

    Not as important as not mixing out of key…if that makes sense. Great for really melodic and progressive type mixes.

    #1008071
    backtothefront
    Participant

    synthet1c, post: 23997, member: 1107 wrote: It’s a trap! mixing in key sounds safe and stops you from developing the ability to pick a good track from your memory. The best mixes I have ever come across have no business being together key wise but work absolutely perfectly. I you have a hunch about what will work run with it, don’t worry about the key try it otherwise you will sound exactly the same as the million other dj’s who play the same tracks and rely on the key to choose their next song.

    If your not original you better be damn pretty or well connected because literally anyone can go to a popular blog and steal music, sync tracks on pirated software and rely on key matching or genius to choose their next song. If you develop your own identity people can copy your setlist but no one can copy the spontaneity and the musical knowledge that you have earned, that’s were you value lies otherwise there can be any good looking autopilot dj doing it.

    Absolutely spot on, totally agree. I don’t analyse any tracks, never have done; sure I may work out what may go together during home mix tapes, but it’s not all about harmonic mixing, the track selection is of upmost importance for me and how you put one to the other – this does not always have to be harmonic!

    And exactly as Steelo says, a bad out of key mix is not good at all!

    I sound contradictory but relying on software to calculate key and then mix solely against the key wheel is foolish IMHO, rely on your ears and knowing your tracks and go with it, you learn that way.

    #1008084
    indamix
    Member

    ( i learn music and scales since 8 yrs old …etc before even imagine been a Dj )

    mixing in key is essential for me , i do it natural now i dont spend extra energy to do it , of course with practice and practice then practice 🙂

    mixedinkey helps alot in that , so im not thinking musically what scale every song and wasting time, and i know where the scales dont match even if it should be according to software , there where i can spot a false reading of key , but its rarely happend to me
    of course after loading the song in Deck B i listen just 5secs to make sure it key matched then Spin the Mix
    talking about it can sound complicated , but it veery simple if you understand the mechanics of music

    #1008545
    Phil Morse
    Keymaster

    “In a lounge type bar or sunday afternoon chillout session: Especially when I play deep house / belearic / italo house I mix in key. As I saw it is more harmonic for the audience. I still get them to shuffle with how I arrange the key changes, but being “harmonic” does mean I do not disturb their conversations etc.” – this is me, totally. I do it for my own fun really, to do more and more ambitious mixes.

    #1008552
    Broomptish
    Participant

    For chilled out or rock or certain electronica maybe sometimes but for most it’s a fallacy and a bunch of bullshit. Both combined haha. Think about it did any djs before 2000 odds use such pre programmed ideals? Maybe naturally but then was it something you planned out??? Oh it must be in key???? No never its natural that goes with that and that’s it, or maybe it doesn’t you know what I mean though, key pffffff lol

    #1008603
    Steelo
    Participant

    Broomptish, post: 24634, member: 1377 wrote: For chilled out or rock or certain electronica maybe sometimes but for most it’s a fallacy and a bunch of bullshit. Both combined haha. Think about it did any djs before 2000 odds use such pre programmed ideals? Maybe naturally but then was it something you planned out??? Oh it must be in key???? No never its natural that goes with that and that’s it, or maybe it doesn’t you know what I mean though, key pffffff lol

    Whilst I get what you’re saying, it is one way to open up more possibilities with your set ie control or elevate the energy.

    #1008628
    Hee Won Jung
    Participant

    Any good DJ will be able to mix in key…but they dont use software…its called using your ears. Mix 2 songs together and its on beat but still sounds like shit? Its probably not in key. Now Mixing in key isnt for every type of DJ…when you are playing song to song with a basic mix you dont need to mix in key because the “mixing” only happens for minimal time…32beats

    What ppl these days call “Mashups” which is just extended mixing you have to be in key or else the songs clash. I for one love having MiK as it has made the possibility of doing live mashups on the fly a breeze. I no longer have to spend hours trying to find good combinations as they all show my keys. Same as when i play House music where i have 3 tracks going at once…you wanna make sure all your stuff is in key…cuz theres nothing worse than doing a sick 2 min mix just to have vocals off key and making your mix sound like garbage

    #1008705
    indamix
    Member

    But i noticed that mixing hip hop or urban music like so , doesnt need harmonic mixing everytime

    #1008748
    Hee Won Jung
    Participant

    With Hiphop and Urban music harmonic mixing isnt really necessary because it is drum heavy and minimal synths. As well with most Hiphop and Urban music there isnt much mixing involved…by mixing im talking about 2 tracks both going for an extended period of time, there is a lot more scratching and quick cuts from track to track.

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