Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

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Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

Postby cipher on 21 Jun 2012, 04:14

Hi,

today I'd like to to suggest a feature that I don't find in any mixing software today I'm aware of and yet is a technique used by almost all professional DJs: Key aware mixing or chromatic mixing.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about let me try to explain it without digging too deep into music theory. Whenever you are mixing two tracks that have root keys that don't "fit" together you always have to beware mixing two sections with any kind of "melody/singing/..." in parallel because the disharmonic this would create awkward looks on the peoples faces listening to you :)
On the other hand if you have two tracks with compatible root keys you really can go crazy mixing almost any parts of one song into another and it would sound good (in harmony). For instance when you want to do a so called mashup of two or more songs you have to make sure that the keys match up.
There is a lot of musical theory behind what key is compatible with other keys. I can highly recommend to anyone who is mixing/producing music to dig deeper into the concept of harmonics in music. However there is a cheatsheet called Camelot Wheel where you can easy determine what key would fit to the other without being a expert in music theory.
Here is link explaining what it's all about:
http://www.harmonic-mixing.com/HowTo.aspx

While this concept is not new at all, in the pre-digital era of DJing key aware mixing was a huge huge "pain in the ass". First of all you have to determine the key of every song for instance with a keyboard (which alone is not easy at all and requires some musical knowledge) and write it down somewhere. And since you have to beatmatch the tracks the shift in pitch also shifts your key of course. Approximately every 6% pitch you shift the key by a semitone. So even if you consider all of this you can almost never be accurate because you pitch for most of the time is somewhere inbetween the 6% steps. I hope that all makes some kind of sens for you :)

Here is the good News: In times of pitch corrected master-tempo in our advanced digital equipments we always stay in the same key (poor vinyl guys :D ) no matter how we change the tempo of our tracks. So all we need is to find the keys of our tracks. And I know that there are software algorithms out there that are able to determine the root keys of songs (like the once determining the BPM). But sadly I know of no DJ mixing Software as today that include such a feature. Only stand-alone software is available as of today (as far as i know).

Another really cool chromatic trick is so called "energy boost mixing" - it's increasing the key with every track by one or two semitones. This creates a psychoacoustic effekt of increasing the "energy" of your mix track by track - and of course it works the other way around by reducing the key by one or two semitones on the next track (for instance you want to chill your audience down).
http://community.mixedinkey.com/Topics/1621/how-to-energy-boost-mixing

So all of this said imagine our beloved Cross DJ incooperating chromatic mixing support. You can really go crazy with that idea:

- Cross shows the keys of each track in your library including color coding the keys like in the camelot scale (you would see instantly which tracks would harmonize and which not)

- imagine Cross gives you for every track you play a pre-selection of tracks that are key-compatible to the one playing :eek:

- or a energy-boosting (or energy-releasing) track pre-selection of
your library

- sometimes songs have a key change. how about a optical marker in the waveform-view to see where that key-changes are happening (and what the keys are)

- how about pitching a song to get in a compatible key to the one that is playing (of course that would only work when the calculated pitch is within an acceptable threshold)

... and of course infinite more things i just can't think about yet. maybe you can? :idea:

I know that this is a feature request that Mixvibes can't pull off in a week or month. But that would make this already great software really stand out amongst the others. Maybe you could team up with a company that already have key-determination algorithms going on.

To get an idea what you can do with it check this out:
http://soundcloud.com/mixedinkey/shane-54-mixed-in-key-demo
Hard to believe that this are 32 songs mixed in 5 minutes

What do you guys think about it? :?:

many greets
cipher
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Re: Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

Postby Support@MixVibes on 21 Jun 2012, 10:29

Processing power, analyze time, advanced master tempo.
I guess when will have key adjust into the software this would be possible.
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Re: Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

Postby KevMaverick on 21 Jun 2012, 10:59

I've been doing harmonic mixing for about three years now, and I am already using it in Cross. I've learned to always be aware of the keys of the songs I mix, and it works well, as long as the pitch of the two songs are very close.

I do know of a couple of programs that are designed to scan and use both the bpm and keys of the music, but they are not really designed for live performances.

The one I use does have an option to find similar tracks, showing songs with compatible bpm/key.

This would be a fantastic option to have in Cross, and I'm sure it would be possible to implement the 'finding' of compatible tracks, as long as the bpm and key have already been scanned by another program. The difficult part would be to get Cross to scan for the key - I'm guessing that the process is quite complicated.
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Re: Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

Postby daniel clark on 21 Jun 2012, 11:04

:cool: :cool: :idea: can the said program write to tags so the info would be imported to Cross,and then it wouldnt be a problem sorting the collection ,or using compatable /key sync song for the mix,,, :idea: :?:
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Re: Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

Postby hemskoc on 21 Jun 2012, 12:15

I sorta like your idea to have it incorporated into Cross. Been harmonic mixing for around 6 years or so now, and it makes a ton of difference. ;)
But something i wanted to add, is that even though songs that are key matched should go together in theory, sometimes some tracks don't work together; no matter how you many times you try.... :rolleyes:
So i just don't see how adding something that has so many variables is going to work....Its more like what 'MIK' is for anyway.
Just don't need to bloat up Cross more than it needs to be in my opinion, as the more tools that are incorporated into the software, the more that is likely to go wrong - especially live! :eek:

i do like this idea though :
sometimes songs have a key change. how about a optical marker in the waveform-view to see where that key-changes are happening
but i would point out that it is 'MIK' who have to get there act together to make it happen right now :biggrin: !

'MIK' puts all the key info right there in the key column in Cross anyways, and if you know your camelot wheel, you will know what number/A or B comes next, or where you can goto to change up the mood. Pretty easy for that. Playlists also help, even for bpm grouping, keys ect..
Some DJ's are lazy enough as it is these days :lol:
But i do like some of your ideas ;)

p.s. i do not work for 'MIK'
Last edited by hemskoc on 21 Jun 2012, 14:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

Postby hemskoc on 21 Jun 2012, 12:21

daniel clark wrote::cool: :cool: :idea: can the said program write to tags so the info would be imported to Cross,and then it wouldnt be a problem sorting the collection ,or using compatable /key sync song for the mix,,, :idea: :?:

Hey Daniel. Yeah this said program does already alter and write the id3 tag of the mp3 in your choice of either the comments or key columns already anyway.
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Re: Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

Postby KevMaverick on 21 Jun 2012, 13:05

I forgot to mention that the program I was talking about is Mixmeister, and yes it does write the information to the tags. I mainly use it to scan my tracks for their keys, which are there in the tags for me to use in Cross.

It's also a great tool for creating beatmatched backing mixes too, as they can be exported to mp3. I only use those for warm-up though, or for karaoke nights. Using them at a party or gig seems quite lazy to me - people like to see a DJ working! :biggrin:

(I must get around to trying MIK as it seems very popular)
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Re: Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

Postby sfronti on 21 Jun 2012, 13:10

You can use (or test) this one which if free and writes the keys in tag. For PC and Mac .

http://www.ibrahimshaath.co.uk/keyfinder/

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Re: Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

Postby Jim B on 21 Jun 2012, 13:13

If the Dev team implemented "Key reading" in the analyse process it would use a hell of a lot of CPU useage also it may lead to slower analysing times.

VirtualDJ implemented this a few years ago and the CPU usage on my system inreased by about 15-20% when analysing files.
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Re: Music key aware mixing (chromatic mixing)

Postby Hannes on 21 Jun 2012, 13:13

7 years of musical education, i like to trust my ears :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :cool: :cool:
working as much with music as you do as DJ you shouldnt need that stuff imo (not to sound arrogant, just my opinion)

and concerning mixing vocal-layers together: never a good idea!
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