• Frank Bash

    works well see for your self http://youtu.be/K2k5PfOl5Vs

  • Brendan

    What are the Keys outside the circle for?

    • roadhouse

      Those are the notes that are in the specific key. If you look at C major (8B), you’ll see that it has C D E F G A B at the outer circle, those are the white keys on a standard piano and all the notes in the C major scale. The relative minor to C major starts on the sixth step (or sixth note in the scale), which is A minor, or 8A.

  • DJ Dlux

    I think bringing awareness to mixing in key is great (music theory always makes better music!) but aspiring dj’s can’t let these rules of “+3, -3″ overlook the basics. If I know the crowd will jump up to Biggie’s classic “Hypnotize”, then I’m going to find a way to play that song regardless of bpm or key I’m in. DJing is more akin to playing the drums than the piano. We bang out the emotions from our audience, we don’t have to melodically wait for it.

  • Boris

    always wonder how music theorist take themselves so serious….everybody can learn it its no mystery!

  • Sara Simms

    Thanks for this article, it’s good to read more about harmonic mixing here on DJTT

  • Ben Dahen

    Hey Ean, thanks for this great and easy tipp! Can you tell me the Name of the last Track you were playing? And I love your sweater, well this is totally offtopic but where can I get it online? ;)
    Cheers Ben

  • Filippo

    4A 5B 3C 23687RTY 67D 7895D#…… What??? use your ears!!, Electronic music is imagination, is dream, is experimentation…. it’s what you feel into you… Just mix with your heart… it’s the better than music theory!!! Peace <3 !

    • Ruslan Botsyurko

      The camelot key system is just a helpful tool, you can use it, you don’t have to use it, but I think it’s good to know about it. As Picasso said: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”.

  • DJ_ForcedHand

    Hey! That (techy looking) tree is in Hayes Park, right next to my girl’s bakery! Happy dance. Oh, and who doesn’t use the wormhole effect to transition to something that shouldn’t be mixed to? :)

  • Esbeesy

    All this discussion and no mention of tonality or modes, which explains why an absolute major transition will only work some of the time. In the above video, it doesn’t work. You can hear the dissonance on the lower beep sound. However, interestingly, you then mix into a song which is 9A and it works flawlessly, yet you don’t explain how you can bump up 5 numbers. In fact, a jump from Fm to Em only has two notes in common so the jump has such a large space for error, it would be insane to suggest to anyone to try it just using the MIK or Open Key system since that approach is a highly simplified “on the fly” kind of approach.

    That being said, this article is definitely a step in the right direction, showing that harmonic mixing is more than just +/- 1 and changing a letter. More music theory postz please :)

    (Which would also be really good for the producers who frequent this site. Also, check this video of Chilly Gonzales talking about his work on Daft Punk’s RAM, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc3I0Ent9Zg

    he mentions briefly about figuring out chords to connect two keys. Imagine having an F1 full of bridging loops! It would be a thing of beauty.)

    • http://www.eangolden.com Ean Golden

      good point – +1/-1 mixing ends up being really boring and safe for no good reason. In my mix I accidentally grabbed a song that should not have worked – and it did quite well so we let it ride.

      Each song will dramatically effect the outcome significantly more than the key code rules. There-fore I guess these suggestions are just suggesting different possibilities that you can test. If they sound poor, don’t mix it – and if by chance it works magically then there you go – another exceptional mix

      +++++++++ Perhaps it’s because I am a Jazz fan – but dissonance can be great! who wants to hear standard chords and progressions all day long? not me personally.

    • Ruslan Botsyurko

      Thanks for the Daft Punk video tip. I’ve had chills when I heard the transitions they used in the album and by that time I new it was achieved by musical harmony, but didn’t know the details. Dor example the Am to B? transition from “Giorgio by Moroder” to “Within” is absolutely stunning and supports what Ean’s saying that +1/-1 shifts get boring and sometimes a huge transition like this can take your breath away if performed correctly.

  • Per Jakobsen

    opening a beer, studying this thread ;-)

  • Barabba

    nobody noticed the midifighter twister, that’s a shame…

  • jaha

    What effect did you put on the beat when u faded it at the end part?
    *êffectchain or somethin.
    And this might not be the place to ask for it but what effects do you mostly use?
    <3 best regards

  • Tyler

    One thing that I like to do is jump up one semitone, but it’s tricky. You can’t mix the second tune in with the first one, but what you can do is jump the first track up by one semitone right as you launch the second track.. I call it the Bon Jovi “Living on a Prayer” effect because that is the easiest example I can think of (the part where the key changes for the second part of the chorus) I don’t think they use one semitone in that song and you don’t have to go by 1 but the point is that you are changing keys with the second tune by matching the first one to it instead of vice versa.

  • Oddie O’Phyle

    you can always find a way to sneak a gem in, i’ll just keep putting my ear to it. key notation is a nice place to start and definitely helps when putting a set together, but sometimes the perfect track isn’t even close to the key of the track you are playing. some times the key feature tying the tracks together are as simple is matching the pitch and fx on a high hat or snare and having the vox line up with off time or drops. just my opinion…

  • The Loud Hawk

    Same key, just switching major to minor… Odds are that you’ll find harsh dissonance often. For the rest of the cases just increase a fifth… Or decrease it… +7 semitones or -5 semitones… It makes absolute sense for straight ordered transitioning in music sections with equal polarities but there is no way to find out how many steps there are between the unisons… But odds are that it doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll eventually find harsh unsolvable dissonance every now and then too… like mixing 2 music loops in the same key with an incompatible order, as Ean mentioned… sometimes loop lengths are incompatible too… So then again, you have nothing. It’s a good guide to finding the right way to harmonic mixing but without education it’s still not reliable. Those who get it get it, those who don’t just won’t.

    If only there was a blog about DJ appreciation etiquette or in scene rules for people who complain about overconfident DJs that wanna make their superman harmonic mixing technique live…. *sigh* sometimes they mess up, that is okay too…

    PD: Assuming that people don’t know tolerance it’s proper to classically transition drums with drums or avoid mixing notes with more notes…(which I recommend even if you are an experienced sober DJ) you don’t need to produce something new, the producer already broke his head filtering and EQing a big bunch of sounds so that any DJ just limits it up mixing 2 tracks with an EQ 3 and a cross fader… I’m sure the producer will feel respected if you don’t eff it up lol.

  • CA Music Teacher

    You know what would be way more helpful than any of this? Basic music theory!

    • http://www.eangolden.com Ean Golden

      it’s a good point – we should probably cover basic music theory first.

    • Dennis Parrott

      Dan White, the trusty DJTT editor, is waiting for your email!! You could provide that knowledge….

    • DJ_ForcedHand

      I’m always looking to brush up on stuff I don’t know about… especially in music. :)

    • Violist

      THANK YOU!!
      i just love watching ppl who arent musicians learn harmonic mixing and then try to nerd out in the comment section…..

  • CompleteJ

    Another issue with this article is that Mixed In Key isn’t 100% accurate. Check with a piano, with the artist, and the label’s key suggestion BEFORE relying solely on MIK. MIK will often detect a track as a relative key to what key the track is actually in, and blindly mixing like this can get you into a lot of trouble.

    • Dan White

      Interestingly enough, the brand new 6.0 version of MIK has a built in piano to be able to check the detected key instantly.

      • CompleteJ

        Yeah, I saw that… in the paid upgrade… for a software I’ve already purchased. #nothanks

        Trainspotter is a free software that connects to Beatport and updates all your ID3 tags (incl. the musical key). It works immediately with Traktor and iTunes, and can also look up info from Discogs and more. I am in no way affiliated with this software, but you can find it here: http://www.tspotter.net/

        I spent more time than I’d care to mention correcting MIKs results by one-click updating tracks in my library with this way.

  • YV_Miami

    I want to contribute something that would improve this tutorial, since I wrote the book about harmonic mixing http://www.MixedInKey.com/Book and created Mixed In Key software http://www.MixedInKey.com

    The transition from 7B to 4A is a pretty tough one. We generally do not recommend it.

    It’s easier to go from 7B to 7A (because that’s a relative Minor/Major mix) and it will sound beautiful almost every time. 90% of the time you’re going to love that mix.

    Also… Ean, if you use the images I created for the book, please give proper credit. Both the Camelot wheel and the “5A > 7A” image are something that I worked hard on, so it would be nice if you maintained the logo and explained where these ideas came from. Even the term “Energy Boost” mix is something that I wrote for the first time on the Internet as part of the Mixed In Key community.

    The link to read the chapter for free is:

    http://www.mixedinkey.com/Book/Use-Advanced-Harmonic-Mixing-Techniques

    • http://www.eangolden.com Ean Golden

      sure it’s easier to go from 7A to 7B, but it’s also easier to play back a pre-recorded mix – so why try anything hard at all?

      • YV_Miami

        I like the hard stuff :) I think the word “harmonic” usually applies to mixes that are super smooth and not dissonant at all. As other guys have written in the comments, 4A/7B clash like a bad night of karaoke after a lot of drinks.

        It’s probably better to call 7B > 4A something else, and not “harmonic”

        • Zarto

          All of this is dependant on the individual songs. You can have a clashing mix that goes between two tracks in the exact same key if you don’t pick the right moment to transition. All of the Camelot wheel stuff is only 100% true when dealing with basic harmonic/melodic structures or (most commonly) when mixing on sections of a track where only the tonic note is emphasized. (ie. on the intros and outros of 90% of dance music.)

          As always, trust your ears first and last. Everything else is just guidelines.

    • thebigblaa

      When will the author’s of the Camelot Wheel cite the Circle of Fifths?

      Nikolay Diletsky’s circle of fifths in Idea grammatiki musikiyskoy (Moscow, 1679)

      • YV_Miami

        “It was difficult to memorize the Harmonic Keys Overlay Chart, which listed the four perfectly compatible keys for any given key. I had an epiphany in 1991, however, which revealed that the chart could also be displayed in a circle, like the face of a clock. If I assigned numbers to each key, then I wouldn’t have to memorize key relationships because finding compatible keys would be as easy as telling time. I named it the “Easymix System” and soon discovered that it was an improvement over the original 17th-century circle of fifths.” Source: http://www.mixedinkey.com/Book/How-to-Use-Harmonic-Mixing-2

    • Ruslan Botsyurko

      @YV_Miami:disqus:Just wanted to shout out to you as the author of that book. I’ve read it online at your webpage and it was very helpful, so thanks for creating such a complete guide and sharing it for free!

      @eangolden:disqus: I’ve also learnt a hell of techniques and tips from your video tutorials (I think I’ve actually watched every single one), so thank you very much for them too and keep em coming. This technique might not be completely theoretically correct, I cannot judge for my lack of music theory knowledge, but it’s certainly an inspiriing thing I will try with various tracks at home. It might not work with every track, but that’s what we have headphones for and why we should prepare and know our tracks. So thanks and have a nice and successful new 2014 year ;)

      • YV_Miami

        @ruslanbotsyurko:disqus: Thank you :)

  • William Chai

    Well, there’s nothing wrong mixing from Fmajor to Fminor or vise versa. This method is called absolute major mix. Of course it doesn’t work with all tracks but if u know how to mix, it actually sounds kind of interesting. It kinds of clashes and matches all at the same time. And like all other expert commenters here said, always use ur ears. :)

    • ImNotDedYet

      Yes, it can work…it all depends on the notes and/or chords being played at the same time from the two songs. It can sound interesting and it can also sound horrendous. Try playing an F with an F# at the same time. It’s not pleasant. This is what you’re opening yourself up to by changing key signatures so much by going from F major to F minor.

      Whether it sounds good has nothing to do with knowing how to mix, but rather the moments you pick in the songs for the transition. If you transition when one song is just beats, you’ll be fine. If there is any melodic content or chord progressions/strings, your mix could sound horrendous.

      The Camelot wheel and harmonic mixing are nice because they recommend mixing in scenarios where the possibilities of clashing musical notes are at a minimum. Going F major to F minor drastically increases the possibilities of musical note clashes.

  • fooshead

    to not confuse people for ‘what is 1B minus 3?’:

    a more concise cover-all-bases way to phrase your idea is
    “look at the wheel, and for B to A, go 3 squares in, counterclockwise.”
    this allows you to sneak in the converse
    “for A to B, go 3 squares out, clockwise.”

    these are dance songs with basic chimes, not bach inventions, so a major/minor switch
    won’t cause catastrophic harmonic issues at all.

    thanks. no hate here.

  • Production Unit

    I posted on the YouTube channel but I thought it’d be useful here too:

    I thought the instruction was perfectly clear, it’s just misguided.

    I expected the video to be about relative minor and major keys, which is a really useful tool to have in your box. The mix didn’t sound like a true transition from major to relative minor, so I checked how Mixed In Key works. I had to do this because I have absolute pitch so I mix everything by ear, thus I’ve never had to rely on the MIK system.

    The other comments are right – Mixed In Key uses a Camelot Wheel where the relative minor of 7B (F major) is 7A (D minor). Mixing 7B with 4A goes from F major to F minor, which might work and might not. It’s certainly not something I’d try as a first option.

    I think the error is a bit confusing in the context of the video for a number of reasons:

    1.Without having heard the whole song, I’d say that the first sounds more like C major, as the chords are a C and then an F major chord. I could be wrong though, but in the context of the loop used it’s more like C major.

    2. The second loop may well be from a song in F minor (again, I don’t know it so I’m basing my judgement on the loop used). It only has one note, an F, so it could be in F major or F minor. It would also work fine with D minor or even as the fifth of B flat minor or major, and could actually form the major third of C# major. So the loop can’t really be said to be in F minor, it’s neither major or minor because a single note never constitutes a key or chord (which makes loops like this super-useful for mixing with a multitude of keys).

    So the reason the mix of the first two loops sounds OK is that the solitary F note from loop 2 goes OK with the F chord in loop 1, though to me it jars a bit with the C chord in loop 1. In essence, Ean gets away with the error in this example but I wouldn’t advise it as a general approach.

    To clarify, the error in the video isn’t about mixing from 7B to 4A, it’s about over-relying on what your program tells you about keys, THEN using that information to go from 7B to 4A.

    3. Lastly, Ean mixes from loop 2, in F minor, to a tune in E minor. That really jars and a general approach of ‘most minor tunes will mix well with other minor tunes’ is not good advice in my view. I understood that was what the video was getting at towards the end. Mixing any two tunes or loops that are a semitone apart will always jar, so unless that’s deliberate (say, some minimal bleepy stuff like Sleeparchive) it’s a no-go, particularly when your DJ software will let you nudge one tune up or down by a semitone to lock the tunes in harmony and avoid dissonance.

    The solution? It’s easy for me to say ‘don’t rely on your computer to tell you what key something is in’, so instead I’d advise something in the spirit of what the tutorial advises: mix your Mixed In Key numbers together like the system was made to do (e.g. 7B with 7A), but also trust your ears, practice and experiment.

    In general, lots of the DJTT tutorials are useful so please keep up the good work folks!

    Oh, and to give a good example of fully harmonic tunes from relative major and minor keys that mix well, try the beatless mix of Smokebelch II by Sabres of Paradise (super-major, in G major) into the original mix of On by Aphex Twin (very melodic but minor, E minor to be exact).

    • http://www.eangolden.com Ean Golden

      thanks for the constructive comments and feedback – we should have included a explanation of the relative minor/major mix and have updated the article and video so it’s more clear .

    • nopalmex

      Finally, someone with solid concepts of music.

  • Musicteacher

    This article needs to be revised quickly. What Mr Golden is describing is parallel keys. These use the same notes, like C major and A minor. The Camelot Wheel takes out the very math he suggests and connects 8B to 8A and so on.

    The bottom line is to use Your ear, the analysis tools get things wrong sometimes.

  • mRay

    Um… Fmajor to Fminor sounds really strange. In fact, that is probably one of the worst ways to transition from major to minor. They are very harmonically different (3/7 notes). You are better off transitioning to the relative minor (7B to 7A) or going to a +1/-1 minor (7B to 6A/8A – no more than 1/7 notes different)

    It is kind of frustrating to see someone with no musical knowledge claiming they can teach you about harmonic changes like this. I get that a lot of DJs make and play good music with no musical knowledge, but when someone with as much clout as Ean Golden tells the world something that is wrong (as if it is gospel) it bothers me.

    If you don’t know what you are talking about, don’t pretend to know what you are talking about. I would respect DJTT and Ean Golden way more if they stuck to what they are experts at instead of pretending to know basic music theory and being wrong. There are much easier and more interesting ways of mixing in key that could be focused on.

    It is a sad state this industry is in when the leaders are unwilling to admit their lack of knowledge in an area. They pretend to know what they are talking about and perpetuate the overwhelming ignorance and unwillingness to admit your faults in this industry.

    You don’t have to know everything to be respected. You aren’t going to learn anything by teaching something that is incorrect.

    I don’t know if anyone actually reads these comments, but if you are reading this, please don’t try to mix in key like this.

    Thanks,
    mRay

    • ImNotDedYet

      I agree mRay.

      If you’re stuck with a song with no potential “in key” transitions, your best bet is to find a song +/- 1 . (ie 7B to 6B or 8B or 7B to 6A or 8A) This way, there is only one note difference that could clash between the two keys. Going from something like 7B to 4A (or vice versa) produces two musical keys where half the notes are different – an excellent way to produce clashing music. You can slowly migrate (7B to 6B to 5B to 4A) your way to the desired key song from your minor selections this way so that you can then go from say, 4B or 5B to 4A where the key signatures are the same and you’ll wind up with no clashing notes. If you really need the energy lift of going to a major key from something like 7B, I’d look for a song that’s either 6A or 6B or merely look to a higher energy level of a song that’s in a similar minor key if harmonic mixing is your thing.

      But…going from one minor key to another major key just because they share the same root note is not good advice when half the notes in the key clash – at least if you want to do it sounding well musically.

      • http://www.eangolden.com Ean Golden

        Between the two examples: Fmajor and Fminor – there is only one note out of 6 that is different (the 3) – not half. This is really way less of a dissonant mix than you might imagine.

        • Production Unit

          No, the 6th and 7th would be different in major and minor keys. In the key of F minor (as opposed to an F minor scale or chord) the 6th would be a C# and the seventh would be a D#. In F major the sixth is a D and the seventh an E.

          Keys, scales and chords are different. I suspect you’re thinking of the harmonic minor scale. There’s only one F minor KEY, with the same notes used every time. For minor CHORDS can be 7th, major 7th, suspended 4ths and loads of others. F minor SCALES can be natural, harmonic, melodic and the notes change within them.

          There’s no such thing as the KEY of F minor 7th as you allude to elsewhere.

          Nonetheless, you’re right that the transition you mention could work in a lot of cases. I think a little confusion could be saved if the article was a touch clearer about how this advice is for people who already have the ’7B to 7A’ tool in their locker.

          Lastly, it’s just really cool that DJs are talking and thinking about this stuff!

          • Zarto

            It depends on whether you are dealing with natural minor, harmonic minor, or melodic minor… but in any case you don’t really want to be mixing two tracks while full scales are being played. Even between two tracks in the same key you can have a clashing mix if you try to transition during complex musical passages. Tracks are not fixed on exactly what notes will be used just because they are written in a certain key… accidentals and ornamenting notes may fall outside of the diatonic scale. Better to mix in a track when the tonic is strongly emphasized and consistent. (or any single note/held chord etc. ….not necessarily the tonic.)

            Also, to everyone PLEASE go and read carefully through a basic wikipedia article on a given musical theory concept before you start speaking about it in definite tones. If there is one thing that makes DJs and DJ culture look stupid in the eyes of the rest of the musical world, it is half-informed DJs who spread half-truths about music theory with dogmatic belief. We need to make sure that when we say something, it is correct! Otherwise we’re spreading misinformation and muddying the waters further for those seeking to learn.

            Practice what you preach!

          • Production Unit

            Yep, agree with all of that Zarto.

    • http://www.eangolden.com Ean Golden

      Hey Ray,

      Here are a few points to consider:

      1) I did take music theory and have spent years playing piano along with studying keyed mixing.

      2) The mix described is an “Absolute Major” Mix, and it can be really effective if pulled off correctly. Perhaps you should try it out before telling people “don’t do this”?

      3) Yes, the 3 does not match when mixing major and minor. However the critical note: The Tonic(1) – does, which is why it can work. Especially in electronic music which has a tendency to sit on the tonic for the first 3 minutes of a song.

      So how about dropping a loop on the 1, or even better the 6 – and create a lot of tension – which then releases into a Major lift?

      4) The 7A/7B switch is easier – but also very typical. The absolute major switch is taught here because: it’s an easy calculation to make on the fly and can create more interesting results.

      • Aaron

        Hey Ean,

        I think you’re correct in saying that the Absolute Major transition can work, it just completely depends on the two (or more) songs you’re mixing together. Addressing point 3: you’re correct in saying that between the Fmajor TRIAD and the Fminor TRIAD there is only one note difference (the flat 3), but depending on the complexity of the chord progressions and chords themselves used in each song they could differ on the 6 and 7 too (minor scales use flat 6′s and 7′s while major uses natural).

        So on the one hand you’re right: this mix can work. On the other hand Ray has a point. The differences between an absolute major and minor are pretty big and depending on the notes used in the chords and melodies can create a very dissonant clashing.

        In the end, it’s your last point that matters the most: Use your ears!

      • mRay

        I’m not saying a minor lift is wrong, I’m saying the way that you are playing one loop in Fmaj over another loop in Fmin doesn’t work. The key to the “Absolute Major” is to not play both major and minor chords at the same time. There are ways to make any key to key transition work, but this video does not show a successful way to mix from Major to Minor by any means.

        Please understand my frustration is simply that you are trying to educate people with incorrect/misinformation. I do appreciate your willingness to change/expand/correct your post.

        • epidemic

          chill out bro, there is a little bit of XX century´s music history youre missing, its called funk, and belive it or not, its major and minor at the same time, you must study it, in order to learn how (and when) to break the rules ;)

          • Nicholas Seamans

            Don’t say bro

    • Dennis Parrott

      mRay, i liked how that transition in the video sounded. it seemed fine to my ears. for me, how things hit my ears is how i judge things. i may not have studied music theory but as a lover of music, i have listened to a lot and when things are “off”, i know.

      that said, i am open to any and all competitive ideas to what was presented. instead of carping about how crappy you think Ean’s idea is, show us your idea!

      it is very easy to carp and complain that someone else’s idea isn’t all that and a bag of chips. although Ean doesn’t need my pitiful little defense here, i’d challenge you to write an article or two explaining what you are talking about. do some mixing to show us what to do, what not to do and explain why. if your ideas are all that and a bag of chips, why won’t you share them with us properly (as an article and not a comment…)?

      it makes me sad to see someone get slagged for giving things away for free.

      BTW – there are other DJs who advocate for harmonic mixing who have “systems” for moving between keys that are not simply major to minor (or vice versa) shifts or shifts to +1/-1 keys. the thing is “rules” are there to be broken. if something sounds good, run with it is what i say.

    • Mozzy

      Music theory only goes so far sometimes in this day and age when creativity is the “key” to success. I don’t see the point in arguing a specific transition that can be used with success.

  • chris-

    mohm mhom mohmon, mjom mohm mohm ……

    (*f’#ck* the beard of my Santa Claus-Costume is horrible)

    very nice and harmonic article for this time ;).

  • D J Erik Quick

    Well said! I love finding ways to change the energy of the mix and the crowd, be it subtle or not. The more you know, the more you discover that you got a lot more to learn :)