Are you mixing “in key”?

Some older djs seem to have a sixth sense about mixing tracks. They will often mix similar songs to other djs but for some reason the sequence and timing results in a completely different feel. Promoters and dancers are left happy as the dance floor consistently explodes on the big tracks and chugs along between without any energy drops. There is no secret to their formula, many guys have just developed a keen ear and sense of when to play the rights tracks. Take a closer look by examining the musical structure of their sets and you might find they are often mixing in key and don’t even realize it.

So how you reliably tap into that knowledge without waiting for those random perfect mixes to pop up in your sets? Figure out all the keys of your songs and then learn how to wield that information to create a powerful dance-floor.

GROUND RULES

First, what is actually mixing in key? Technically its blending 2 songs that have very similar notes and when mixed they feel like a long lost friends that have finally found each other. Songs with the same key like Aminor will of course fit together quite nicely but often keys that just have similar characteristic will also create that feel good vibe. Mixing songs that feel right together is just the tip of the iceberg. Its figuring out which songs don’t feel right that will really make your dancers pop lock and roll.

JAZZ IT UP

Just like a classical composer or a finely tuned jazz band, a good dj will weave in and out of keys constantly lifting up the energy or creating tension and release. One simple way of consistently “lifting” up the dance-floor is to mix the next song one step up the keyboard. For instance make a transition from Aminor to Bminor. Those 2 songs wont mix well harmonically but if you do a clean beat mix then it will end up feeling like a big energy boost just hit the dance-floor.

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RULES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN

Although mixing up one step at a time is cool, sometimes just throwing on a random key will give the crowd a breath of fresh air it needs. When the energy is good, keep the key constant for a while but if you start to get bored chances are they are too, so change the key- Dramatically! One rule of thumb that some key djs teach is to not mix down a full step, for instance from Aminor to G minor. Not only is that supposed to clash but it also will result in a feeling of a dance-floor let-down. Well last night at Harlot in San Francisco, I dipped into a little hip hop for a moment and after playing Gold Digger (1A G#M), I really wanted to play Shoot to Kill “Jane Fonda” (11B A major). Not only is this moving down one step but its also going from minor to major, so in “theory”, it should have sounded like garbage. Instead, it worked wonderfully. Hip Hop is mixed in a short amount of time, often 16 or 32 counts. These kind of clashing mixes create tension and an interesting sound then boom, your into the original song without any clash and it feels great. Result-very happy dance-floor.

GETTING STARTED

You need to download a program to start reading your digital files and assigning them the correct key. Mixed in key is a popular program that is compact, easy to use and good at figuring out the right key for you. Unfortunately,at $58 its a little pricey, but well worth the money. So to help you out Yakov Vorobyev, the owner of mixed in key has offered to give away 3 free copies to our readers. In order to win you just have to be the first person to post an answer to the following question (be sure to include your email in the comment so we can send you the software!)

Question: You can mix a song in the same key and the melodic major of a key. What is the melodic major of E flat minor?

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  • How To Craft A DJ Mix: 10 Tips For Success – My House Radio

    […] track to the next that is in the same or complimentary key. In his early DJTT article (2007!) “Are you mixing ‘in key’?”, Ean Golden explains that mixing in key is “ […] blending 2 songs that have very similar […]

  • How To Craft A DJ Mix: 10 Tips For Success | connectikART

    […] track to the next that is in the same or complimentary key. In his early DJTT article (2007!) “Are you mixing ‘in key’?”, Ean Golden explains that mixing in key is “[…] blending 2 songs that have very similar […]

  • How To Craft A DJ Mix: 10 Tips For Success | dPico AUDIOS

    […] track to the next that is in the same or complimentary key. In his early DJTT article (2007!) “Are you mixing ‘in key’?”, Ean Golden explains that mixing in key is “[…] blending 2 songs that have very similar […]

  • How To Craft A DJ Mix: 10 Tips For Success - DJ TechTools

    […] track to the next that is in the same or complimentary key. In his early DJTT article (2007!) “Are you mixing ‘in key’?”, Ean Golden explains that mixing in key is “[…] blending 2 songs that have very similar […]

  • Ryan conway

    its g-flat major.

  • Dj

    G flat major.

  • Tim

    F sharp major?

  • Kee Kee Woo

    G Major

  • COOLOUT

    I get a lot of complements for my blends and all I do is use my natural musical instincts. I just quickly sing or hum the melody of the next song in my head and I can tell if it will clash or not. Even when I’m spinning for a mainstream crowd I tend to do really long mixes because it’s challenging and more fun. I’ll have the next song looped up and mixed in by the first chorus, but often other DJs (especially Serato users) seem to barely mix (the last couple of seconds) or just slam every song in. Especially with a completely prepared playlist…they must be bored out of their minds. Part of the fun for me is treating the night like a high wire act and not knowing exactly where the set is going to go.

  • BentoSan

    Harmonic Mixing FTW !!!

  • Anonymous

    THNX

  • mega

    vamos quebrar o virtualdj, me manda o programa ai, valeo

  • Ean Golden

    good for you munich techno! There are several people that have learned the ropes through Dj Tech Tools that are now getting regular gigs.

    yes, its true Vestax is a small company and the few good people they do have are working really hard on 3 big products.

  • Munich Techno

    It seems that Vestax is currently relocating its manufacturing plants/operations, thats why everything is coming so slow, after all its a small company.

    And i LOVE the VCI-100. I already made more than 3000?s DJing with VCI and Traktor

  • Minotronic

    Only reason Vestax vci100 would not become a classic is precisely Vestax itself (new firmware not avail., complete blackout on its availability, poor support, they announce basic and simple products – control panels, come on!- that take a year to be released, etc…)
    I am the first to wish VCI 100 a long long life, (despite vestax pathetic support).

  • Benstarr

    "vci100 out of date"

    LOL! This thing is gonna last. its expandable and DURABLE. I second the idea of it being an instant classic..

  • Guillaume Brandeburg

    “Out of Date”? The VCI ist a classic, a forever-thingy like the Technics 1200s. You’ll see them in usage in 5 and 10 years!

  • Minotronic

    Hi Ean, yes, the special edition… Although the normal edition control panels are not avail yet, after almost a year on vestax website, they are still "coming soon". So I guess the special edition may take a looooong time…

    By the time they make them avail, vci100 will be out of date…

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us, the site and your videos are just great.

  • Ean Golden

    Do you mean the special dj tech tools plates for Traktor? No I have not used RE lately. I need to check that out again, so thanks for the heads up!

  • Minotronic

    Ean, have you had time to check RE again ?.

    Newest version, 2.10 is great!

    (nothing to do but, do you have any idea when will vestax release the vci 100 plates for traktor?… thanks!)

  • Editor

    <blockquote cite="#comment-433">One small note, I appreciate the effors of Yakov and his dedicated team, but there is another option, free, (donations welcome) that works just great for me,

    Rapid Evolution is so good and useful that it seems fair to me to mention it.

    I agree, and will give a mention to rapid evolution when I get a chance to look at it again. RE was the first key software product I used but the early versions were really too buggy to recommend. Hopefully it has become more stable since then,

  • Minotronic

    One small note, I appreciate the effors of Yakov and his dedicated team, but there is another option, free, (donations welcome) that works just great for me, and is really fantastic: very accurate at BPM and key determining: it's called Rapid Evolution.

    Works like a library of your mp3 files, with BPM, and Key. Automatically displays matching tracks.

    Avail for free download on http://www.mixshare.com.

    Jesse the developer is also putting a great deal of efforts into his software, and is always quick to answer any questions.

    Rapid Evolution is so good and useful that it seems fair to me to mention it.

  • Erick

    hi,

    I'm just start in dj

    I need som tips.

  • Brian

    I just got rapid evolution 2 (EV2) off mixshare.com for free and it is a pretty capable program. If anyone does not have the 60 bones to drop on yet another "necessary program" try it out. The website even has some music theory tips and a discussion group.

  • Midifidler

    Mixed In Key is awesome. Great for people like me who don't have magical ears, instant improvement to my mixes. Thanks heaps to Ean + Mr Vorobyev.

  • polocorp

    58 bucks to make a dancefloor happy(er). i might just have to buy this.

  • audiodestruction

    Thats awesome everyone got involved thanks soo much to Mr. Vorobyev and Ean for the software and site respectively

  • Norrin Rad

    Mr. Vorobyev – Thank you sooo much for the software! I really look forward to using it!

    Ean – as always – thanks for the great info this site provides and the inspiration!

    You're awesome dude!

  • Yakov Vorobyev

    Hi everyone,

    Ean, thank you for a great article. Instead of sending three free downloads, we will send five. DJs who received honorable mentions will also get free copies of Mixed In Key.

    We encourage everyone to check out http://community.mixedinkey.com for advanced topics related to this DJ technique. We have thousands of DJs who visit that forum regularly.

  • Editor

    <blockquote cite="#comment-189">OH SNAP!!!

    That hurts Ean! I was looking forward to actually using this software!

    LOL!

    Sorry man, i promise more free give-aways in the future!

  • Norrin Rad

    OH SNAP!!!

    That hurts Ean! I was looking forward to actually using this software!

    LOL!

  • Editor

    Ok, thanks for rallying the troops Norrin-

    This was my bad- the first three actually did leave their emails but it does not show up as a link unless they put in a website. Word press does a good job of hiding your email from spammers!

    So then, congratulation's go to David, AudioDestruction and MidiFidler.

    Honorable mention to Norrin Rad and Kamiok.

  • Norrin Rad

    There you go!!! w00t!!! Yeeha!!!

  • kamiok

    Ahh…well, it's imkamiok (at) googlemail.com

  • Norrin Rad

    No.. I think he wants it in the actual comment field where we type our message!

    That's what the first people did but he needs it in the comment field. Typing it in the mail field just allows you to post the comment… nothing more.

    Copy and paste my post and change email! 😛

  • kamiok

    Surely I just add it to the 'Mail' field when I write a comment?

  • Norrin Rad

    @kamiok

    Dude! You're supposed to include your email in the comment along with the right answer!

    So… do a repost of your answer – with your email in the comment like I've done. I guess I'm the first… but you can be second! HURRY!!!

  • kamiok

    g flat major!

    Just in case the others don;t get back to you with their emails!

  • Editor

    <blockquote cite="#comment-170">i second the g flat major

    I need your emails guys! please post new comments with you email included so I can pass that on to mixed in key.

  • Midifidler

    its g flat major

  • David

    If I understand the question correctly then the answer is G flat major