Table of Contents
Beyond Beatmatching

3. Integrate Mixed In Key With Your DJ Gear

As a DJ, you can use music to form a deep connection with your audience. You can tell a story, create an atmosphere, and take your listeners on a journey with you. The beauty of a well-crafted mix is that the sum is greater than the individual parts. Two DJs can play the same song, but it will sound totally different--and elicit a different reaction--in the context of a mix.

It's also useful to keep in mind that certain keys can evoke specific feelings. For example, C minor can sound romantic and whimsical, while D major can sound triumphant, and D minor can sound gloomy.3 Generally speaking, major scales sound happy and elated (think of a peak-time David Guetta anthem), while minor scales sound sad and wistful (think of Adele's "Someone Like You").4

David Guetta, DJ Mag's 2011 Top 100 poll winner, has achieved success because his music contains harmonies that trigger a real emotional connection with his listeners.5 But what happens when you choose an uplifting, upbeat Guetta track in the key of C major and mix it with a darker track in the key of D minor? You might lose your audience completely and end up clearing the dance floor.

We created Mixed In Key so you can keep up that energy and still keep moving forward creatively. We think it's vital for DJs to be able to experiment with harmonic relationships in their mixes. DJing is very much a musical art form, and harmonic mixing adds an exciting dimension to it.

Harmonic Mixing with Your DJ Setup

Now that you understand what harmonic mixing is, you're just a few simple steps away from being able to use it with your DJ software. The easiest way to get started is to run your music through Mixed In Key, and then update your DJ software to show the key of each song you import. The key is notated in our Camelot format. This is the typical process for most DJs:
Mixed In Key connection with Serato, Traktor and other DJ software

Once your songs are labeled, it's a good idea to organize them by key, or to create separate playlists with tracks that are harmonically compatible. As we noted in Chapter 2, the Camelot Wheel is designed to give you a deeper understanding of song keys and how they relate to each other.

We can't emphasize enough how important it is to familiarize yourself with these harmonic relationships. Club environments can be hectic, so it's to your advantage to be prepared in case you have to select tracks on the fly. Take a lesson from Kaskade, who labels all his music in advance. When he's in a club or playing a festival gig in front of thousands of screaming fans, he doesn't have to worry about conflicting keys in his mixes because he's done all the preparation beforehand.

Labeling Your iTunes Library

If you use iTunes to organize your music library--and we know many DJs who do--then you can use Mixed In Key to label your tracks so their key information shows up in iTunes. This is a pretty simple process:

1. In Mixed In Key, go to Personalize, click on Update Tags, select Store Key Result and choose Before Comments. Add your MP3 and MP4 files and process them.

2. Open iTunes and select the files you have analyzed. Right click on the selection and choose Get Info. Type a single character in one of the empty tag fields that you don't plan on using, check the checkbox next to it, and click OK. This forces iTunes to refresh itself.

3. After iTunes refreshes your library, your Mixed In Key results will appear in the Comments column.

Updating Your DJ Software

We've worked with all the major DJ software, and have outlined below the steps you need to take to use each one with Mixed In Key. No matter which software you use, once your music is tagged properly, harmonic mixing is a snap.

Native Instruments' Traktor

1. For MP3 and MP4 (iTunes) files, we recommend going to Personalize in Mixed In Key, click on Update Tags and enabling Update Initial Key Tag. For all other file types, we recommend storing the key Before Comments.

2. Add your files to Mixed In Key and process them.

3. Open Traktor and select the files you have analyzed. Right click on the selection and choose Check Consistency from the pop-up menu. Your keys should now appear in Traktor.

Serato DJ

1. For MP3 files, we recommend going to Personalize, then Update Tags in Mixed In Key and enabling Update Initial Key Tag. For all other file types, we recommend storing the key Before Comments.

2. Add your files to Mixed In Key and process them.

3. Open Serato and press the Files button. Inside Serato's browser, drag the files you analyzed with Mixed In Key onto the Rescan ID3 Tags button. Your keys should now appear in Serato.

Pioneer CDJs with rekordbox

1. For MP3 files, we recommend going to Personalize, then Update Tags in Mixed In Key and enabling Update Initial Key Tag. For all other file types, we recommend storing the key Before Comments.

2. Add your files to Mixed In Key and process them.

3. Open rekordbox and select the files you have analyzed. Right click on the selection, and choose Reload Tags from the pop-up menu. Your keys should now appear in rekordbox.

Ableton Live

Ableton Live is a little harder to use for harmonic mixing than other DJ software because it doesn't show the metadata for each file. Here are three successful approaches that we've discovered:

1. Use Mixed In Key as a browser and drag-and-drop clips from Mixed In Key into Ableton Live.

2. For each key that's on your hard drive, create separate folders in Live (for example, 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, and so on). Then drag and drop files from Mixed In Key into their corresponding folders in Live.

3. For Live experts only: enable File Renaming in Mixed In Key to add the key to the file name. The keys will show up in Live in the title of each clip. You will not lose warp markers since the software renames the associated .ASD files, but any Live projects that contain the original files will stop working. That's the last thing you want to happen when you show up at a club.

Extra tip: Once again, preparation is essential in harmonic mixing, so make it easy on yourself. Whatever DJ hardware or software you use, make sure you can see your key labels clearly, even in a dark club environment.

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