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 Post subject: Beat Mix - in Key...
 Post Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:58 pm 
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Hiya All !

We all know what a beat mix is, but I know a lot of people have been talking about beat mixing tracks in the same key to get the mixes sound even more superior !
I wonder if you guys do/did it and HOW you figured out the key of a song? Was there any easy way to find it out?
I know there are programs today doing that, but that's "cheating" - I would like to know the "old school" way of doing it...
Besides - I have also seen charts before where you could see that if you pitched a song originally in C minor with X %, it would be considered like D major (for example).
So, Did anyone of you use key mixing and how could you do it all with pitch changing and everything ???

// Discoguy

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 Post subject: I consider myself Knowledgeable...
 Post Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 10:22 pm 
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I consider myself very knowledgeable in mixing styles. And I guess I have been away too long. I never heard of this? But ..who knows? With the technology available today, anything is possible. As for "old school" deejays? Never heard about any one doing something like that! Not Jimmy Burgess, not Tom Lewis, both who had extensive musical training. Not even HECTOR ARMANGUER, a classically trained musician, and music teacher, who was a deejay in the mid-80's. He worked under me, before going to United Arab Emeries or Dubai. Now, he could certainly mix, and it sounded pretty. But he never told me anything about pitch or key mixing?? In fact, he studied me??

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 Post Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:10 pm 
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I started djing on radio late 77 & then clubs in 78. At the time I knew nothing of keys or their influence on how they can make mixing tracks together sound more slick.

I just used to use my ears to listen out for what track would mix well with another. These factors were all of a musical nature.
Similar basslines/orchestral or synth leads/percussion etc.
Knowing the keys of your records & the tempos are not essential but they are another form of musical knowledge that help to train your ears over the years.

Just because a track is in the same key as another does not mean that they will sound good together.

The keys & tempos work this way.

Let's say a record is in the key of B & is 100 BPM.

If you speed this up by +6% on a technics turntable it will be now at 106 BPM.

They called these devices "pitch" controls for a good reason.

They not only speed the track up but they change the "pitch" or "key" a track was initially recorded in as well.

So your track is now not only 6 BPM faster but the "pitch" has changed from B to C.

To find out the key a track is in I actually use a keyboard & just keep hitting single notes till I find the one that fits it closest.

When keying records, (especially old disco ones) here's agood thing to watch out for.

Sometimes no notes seem to fit with the track you are trying to key.

This is more than likely due to final master tapes being sped up a few % at the last minute just before pressing.

In these situations, either speeding the track up or down a few % will usually give you the key.

I started incorporating keys knowledge into my collection in the early 90s. It's been an advantage for sure.

There is nothing worse than hearing a mix between 2 records with a similar feel but in totally different keys being pushed together to form a sound of "dischord".

These records are usually better off mixed together when there are just drums on one & drums/melody on the other.

When mixing 2 melodies together they must be in the same key or a "harmonic key" that works.

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Last edited by pflext on Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: CD turntables
 Post Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:17 pm 
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Ray has a cd turntable, that allows you to speed up or slow down the song, but keep the pitch the same???????? I know not what I am speaking about. But it is a fact. I just match beats, time the measure and take it from there! OLD SCHOOL!!???????

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 Post subject: Ray's The Man
 Post Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:25 pm 
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You need to RAY on this thread...he's the man with the tech know- how and could enlighten me on Discoguy's post..

Come on out Ray.....your disco brothers need you!

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 Post subject: Re: CD turntables
 Post Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:34 pm 
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Pete Denis wrote:
Ray has a cd turntable, that allows you to speed up or slow down the song, but keep the pitch the same???????? I know not what I am speaking about. But it is a fact. I just match beats, time the measure and take it from there! OLD SCHOOL!!???????


The "pitch lock" you are referring to gives us an added advantage over what you could do with the same tracks in the old days.

With turnatbles, if you had to speed atrack up to get it to match the tempo of another it sometimes made the vocals seem a bit Mickey Mouse sounding. Use the pitch lock & that doesn't happen anymore.

Now we can speed up our track of 100BPM in key of B to 106bpm & it will still be in the key of B instead of going up to the key of C.

Use the pitch lock when mixing two records together & then try the same mix without using the pitch lock & you will hear a difference to the mix.

We are now able to pull off some brilliant mixes between our old disco records that we would never have been able to put together in the old days just because initially they would have sounded "out of key" together.

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 Post subject: Seen it
 Post Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 1:21 am 
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At the old Vinyl Mania record store they had 6 or 7 turntables that were used for consumers to listen to the product on headphones, so you can go thru prospective purchases without bothering anybody.

One of these turntables was one of those that you can slow down & speed up the tempo without changing the pitch. About $900 a turntable brand new.

You can slow down a Whitney Houston song say a 130 beat to a 119 beat and she will still sound like Whitney and not like a man.
Reversely you can speed up "Fly Robin Fly" from a 106 to a 116 without them sounding like chipmunks.
A truly amazing machine. Ray has it on CD??---WOW!!!

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 Post subject: Attempt
 Post Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 1:23 am 
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Ok boys and girls. I will put my two cents in.
When your turntables pitch are at zero (quartz lock) or cd turntables, that means the key is in its original sounding form and the pitch as well. The more you move the pitch the more likely the key will also change, making the track either sound like Mickey on helium or on heavy downers depending which way you’re adjusting the pitch. But coming to the rescue (been around now for years) are turntables with key lock. Meaning that you can lock the key even though you're adjusting the pitch. So Mickey can sound like he's auctioning but not on helium. In others terms, going fast or slow but with no or minimal key variation.

This key thing is a bit over-rated in my opinion. Many a dj have done some wild mixing with a wide spectrum for the pitch and it sounded just fine. This is just another ploy to make the modern day deejay have a piece a cake time mixing. If you had to plan all your mixing around keys, all your mixes will sound the same. You will not venture out into no mans land you will take forever finding something to mix with. You will stay way behind the lines where it is safe. It is my opinion that trying too hard to match keys is a waste of time. There’s nothing better than a well tuned ear. This key thing should be left for the original recording in the sound studios. It’s really too much of nothing for real life application in Club style mixing, unless of coarse you want to be safe and always sound the same and predictable.

Anyways, that's my two cents in a nut shell. Hope it makes sense.

Here are a couple models that have this.

Stanton STR8.150

Image

Image

Numark HDX CD turntable. Key lock is little button under digital display.

Image

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Last edited by djrayj on Fri Oct 31, 2008 2:16 am, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Now I Get It.....
 Post Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 1:38 am 
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Nice one Ray & Pfex....

Its all easy as A B C...so simple as 1 2 3!

Rejoice i have been rescued from idiot island....

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 Post subject:
 Post Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 9:43 am 
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All,

Thanks for the insight in this matter...
Pflext - so you use a kind of "old school" technique to find out the key of a track by using a keyboard... But still it must be lots of work and HARD work finding out which tone to use in order to find out the actual key...
I've heard some guys mixing key and it sounds great, but I'm not sure all the work involved is worth it, or ??
But are there not really any easier ways (than cheating and using one of these software's) to find out the key ?? I have never even seen the key featured in like BPM listings or likewise - does a lot of today's DJ's use Key mixing ?? How do they find it out ??
But also - in today's steady beat world, the drum beats are easily mixed anyway, without the key information...
Still I think it's exciting to know more about this style of mixing...
Pflext - do you happen to have one of these charts showing what you explained - i.e. 100 BPM track in B pitched up to 106 BPM giving a C...

Disco-on !

//Discoguy

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 Post subject:
 Post Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 10:58 am 
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Discoguy wrote:
All,

Thanks for the insight in this matter...
Pflext - so you use a kind of "old school" technique to find out the key of a track by using a keyboard... But still it must be lots of work and HARD work finding out which tone to use in order to find out the actual key...
I've heard some guys mixing key and it sounds great, but I'm not sure all the work involved is worth it, or ??
But are there not really any easier ways (than cheating and using one of these software's) to find out the key ?? I have never even seen the key featured in like BPM listings or likewise - does a lot of today's DJ's use Key mixing ?? How do they find it out ??
But also - in today's steady beat world, the drum beats are easily mixed anyway, without the key information...
Still I think it's exciting to know more about this style of mixing...
Pflext - do you happen to have one of these charts showing what you explained - i.e. 100 BPM track in B pitched up to 106 BPM giving a C...

Disco-on !

//Discoguy


I first heard & learnt about harmonic key mixing in 1980. I originally discarded it as something I had no need for. 12 years later, I picked up on it.
Key mixing is an asset. It's an understanding of another musical avenue that you can use to your advantage if you can be arsed. :lol:
I'm a geek & found it fascinating.
It made me put things together that I normally would not have.
For that alone I thank it. :)

You described using a programme or device to figure out the key of a track as "cheating".
That's why I gave you the option of how to do it manually.
Personally I think it's a better way to go & more fun.
It actually trains your ear. 8)

I read some articles today that say that the computerised readouts are not always accurate.
Some tracks also change key a few times within the track, so depending on where you wanna mix needs to be taken into account.

I don't think I have a great ear for pitch, but not a bad one either.
Before keying records I used to try & guess what key a track was in by ear alone & was only correct 40% of the time.
After 10 years of keying my records and taking into "consideration" what that offers mixing wise, I now can guess the key of any given track to within more like 75%. :D
Alas in the last 10 years it's not really improved. I guess I've reached my limit there. :?

I heard a story once that Quincy Jones (whilst conducting an entire orchestra) stopped a take on a recording & said that the guy 3rd from the left in the 2nd row of the choir was a litttle flat! :o
Now that's an ear! :twisted:

Like Ray says above it can "sterilise" the way you mix (always so smooth you don't know that anything is happening).

I learnt what to play by ear first for over a decade & then it was actually Sasha in '92 that really turned me onto key mixing when I was into my progressive house days in the early 90s', which much like today requires that you hold a mix in key for long periods of time for a smooth blend from track to track.
In the disco days the mixes were usually, but not always, shorter.

These days the beats & bleeps "seem" to meld together a bit more to the untrained ear but believe me, if you wanna play disco, you have to be in key to get that "sweet" sound to the mix.

I have some records that have the BPM/Key & Time all posted as part of the label information.
This one is by (you should like this cos she's Swedish!) Ann Margret - "Love Rush" from 1979.

http://www.discogs.com/viewimages?release=342260

It clearly states the tempo/time & key. If only every record came out like that. :twisted:

Even in 1979 someone realised the importance of tempo & key to a dj mixing. No key/pitch locks on turntables then. :(

Here is a link to a website explaining the charts & programmes to use.

http://www.harmonic-mixing.com/HowTo.aspx

Like I said above. If your starting out, be aware of the pitfalls of sounding too smooth too much of the time. Pepper always needs to be thrown in for good taste. :wink:

A final note: Some tracks don't sound anything like each other except for maybe one magical element.
That element just may be the link to a mix that is out of this world. That's what I've always searched for. :D

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 Post subject: Yes I'm aware
 Post Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 2:57 pm 
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Don't get me wrong, mixing in key can be a wonderful treat for the ears. But relying on it too much, leads to repetition. Even with the key lock features in today's modern equipment you shouldn’t venture out into no man's land if this is your thing. I've read that key mixing will really only benefit you if you stay within a very small percentage in pitch change.
I'm going to say this again. Key mixing will definitely impair you more than you know. It's great if you plan to stay in safe pitch ranges and if your sets are already pre-planned. All you will be is basically a juke box that mixes. The juke box is limited to what can be played and so would this type of mixing if you always use it.

There's nothing like mixing from the seat on your pants and making things up as you go. All this new equipment is great when you use it "wisely". It can also be used to make the deejays sessions easier (lazier). There's minimal originality when you let all the software and equipment dictate what you can play. The true artist deejay can make the seemingly impossible, possible.

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Last edited by djrayj on Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: true
 Post Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:15 pm 
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Very True Ray! Great point.

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 Post subject: Key Mix
 Post Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:45 pm 
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I agree with Ray.Key thing mix it's very good in theory,but you have to be pre-programmed as a dj and with limitation at bpm.
The best mixes comes unexpected in a live set :D


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 Post subject:
 Post Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:18 pm 
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OK let me try and shed some light on this. I was mixing in key since the seventies. It was because I was classically trained on piano so my ear naturally knew when two songs were in the same key. In the seventies or early eighties there was a cheat sheet created (I don't remember by who now) that gave you the keys to the songs of the day. I never subscribed to it but saw it mentioned in some trade adds at the time and got to see a sheet at one point. In the eighties I started tagging all my vinyl with the BPM and keys they were written in. When I first went to England on tour everyone that I played with was curious as to what the markings on my albums were about. I explained what they were to people and a lot of those people use that technique today (Pete Tong among them). Now someone has created a software program to do it for you and a whole new crowd of jocks have discovered the technique. I do it by ear because it's easy for me and takes less than 5 seconds to find the key to a song. The advantage of mixing in key is that it will make your mixes smoother if you know how to use it. But those that don't know much about music will sound like there doing the same mix over again. But if properly used it will make for a better mixer out of you. Let me explain a little about music theory so you can understand some basics. Most songs (though not all) are written in either a major key or a minor key. Major keys tend to give songs a more uplifting feel ( ex: Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel, I've Got You Under My Skin) where as minor songs have a darker feel (Bad, MBO Theme, Miss You etc..). The lyrics also have an effect on the feel of the song (there are plenty of minor songs that have a positive feel to them because of the lyrics and vice a versa on the major). So mixing in key can make the flow smoother if you get it right (the last classic mix you guys heard from me was in the key of E). But it's not the end all answer. There are other things to consider when doing a mix (drum patterns or other instrument patterns and the mixes EQ). For example of a classic mix in key that works because of both the key and arpeggio pattern try Cerrone's Supernature and in the break in the middle mix it with Don Ray's Standing In The Rain. Both are in the key of C and both have the same arpeggio pattern happening at that point. So you see some of you may have done that mix already back in the day like I did but you didn't know why they sound so good except for the patterns. Now I use it as a tool because I have enough music background to know how to modulate, pitch up or down, bar count knowledge etc..... If you learn some basic music theory your mixing skills will improve 100%. As far as how it works on a turntable I went in like a scientist trying to put into practical theory what I learned from my music lessons and here are the results. On a turntable if you want to go to the next key (example from the key of E to the key of F) you have to bring the slide up to 4+ (the + being a hair pass the four) that will bring the song up one half step musically (half step because in music there are flat and sharp notes and that's what it will bring it up to the next note, it just so happens that there is no flat note between the E & F in music same goes for the B & C in music). You can go the other way by bringing the slide down 4+ (so if your in F and go down 4+ you will be in E). Now that scaling on your turntable will speed up or slow down the song by about 5 and a half beats (so if your original song is 120 then up will make it 125 and a half about). Obviously the other way will slow it down just as much. So if you've been mixing in the key of E and want to modulate up to F then what you would do is have a song in E (lets say it's at 112) and get another record in F at around 117 and you can either bring up the 112 the 4+ clicks or you can meet them half way by bringing up the E, 2 clicks and bringing down the F, 2 clicks. They would mix in key at that point. Like I said I have enough music experience to use it as a tool. I heard people making the same reasoning you guys mentioned as to why it wasn't good but the reality is that just like a jazz artist practices his scales to make him better at improvisation I feel that having that extra knowledge gives me an advantage when I mix. Sorry for the long message just trying to make it clear as to how to use it. I don't use it for every mix but when I do it helps a lot. Oh and for CD's it depends on the model unfortunately but you have an advantage on Cd's because as someone else mentioned you can lock your master tempo and mix in key a lot easier but I wouldn't recommend it for songs more than 2 or 3 BPM's apart because it tends to mess up the frequency too much if you stray away to much in beats.

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