Do you mix in key?

zephry Member Posts: 594 Pro

I have learned to use key a little less as an absolute.

The way I see key is mainly by the type of track.

If it is a track heavy with drums and less melodic content. I almost ignore the key when mixing. Because the melody or vocals almost never clash or sound bad. Because there really is none. Types of genres that are "simple" like this are, Techno, Tech House, Bass House, and even a lot of Hip Hop or Garage. A person could mix almost any of theses mentioned genres with never looking at the key.

The tracks I tend to be careful with when it comes to key. Are genres. Like Mainstage, anything with heavy vocals, like Camelphat, Melodic House, Pop Music, older or rock music. Etc. Of course any type of careful remix needs a lot of attention to key.

But, even then depending on how a Dj set is done you could easily skip key matching and just blend drums or a non melodic part to avoid key clashes.

My girlfriend mixes very popular music almost seamlessly without paying any attention to key. But she always mixes intros that have simple drumbeats. By the time the unmatched vocal or melody comes in the other is gone and nothing clashes.

But yes, it is much easier to always mix in key and have a good mix.



  • lord-carlos
    lord-carlos Member Posts: 2,590 Expert

    I think your assessment is spot on.

    On some genres use it as a guide, on some like ~open formart~ you can often just ignore it. Echo song out, drop now on "the one" and ignore key and bpm.

    I sometimes mix songs I have never heard. Fun way for me to discover new music. And I use key to just nudge me in the right direction.

    I never change the key of a song, but maybe I should start messing with that.

  • zephry
    zephry Member Posts: 594 Pro

    I do mess with key a lot. Especially as an effect. Going lower on a vocal loop and then back. Or a favorite is. To increase as a build and transition.

  • Dj Schawa
    Dj Schawa Member Posts: 1 Member

    I have to say I use the key a lot as a reference when selecting the next track. Most of the time I'm mixing I select music I have never listened to before. I don't spend a lot of time messing with the key as there are plenty of ways to mix in and out. Also using beatport the key like to change from what is selected to whatever else.

    It kinda nice. It keeps me thinking on the fly and open to new mix designs and music.

  • Heisenberg
    Heisenberg Member Posts: 43 Member

    I also mostly listen to music in my large Psy collection that I haven't heard before and only use the key as a guide to switch between different styles.

  • zephry
    zephry Member Posts: 594 Pro

    @Dj Schawa My partner in crime. welcome to the forum!

  • zephry
    zephry Member Posts: 594 Pro
    edited January 26

    Awesome. It is nice to know Key is important but not absolute!

    Psy also has a low end frequency and more effects than melody as the main groove. But can be very centered around a melodic part. I love that genre but have yet to do any good mixes.

    Any tips you have for key in relation to that genre, do you pitch up or down?

  • wayfinder
    wayfinder Member Posts: 376 Guru

    i like long, mash-up-like transitions, so i usually try to be mindful of the key, yeah

  • zenstar
    zenstar Member Posts: 5 Member

    I used to mix on vinyl when features like this weren't available. Now that I've started playing again, I find myself getting dependent on it when choosing tracks and I'm not sure that's good.

    Before, I'd mix the songs in my head based on where I wanted the vibe to go. Now I'm looking at a screen. Is this better or worse? I'm not sure, but I'm afraid I'm getting lazy.

  • zephry
    zephry Member Posts: 594 Pro

    Yes that is what made me start thinking more about why and when I depend on the key.

    I don't think of anything in DJing as lazy, it all depends on who the audience is and if the Dj wants to perform that way.

  • PawelB
    PawelB Member Posts: 3 Member


    Im playing psytrance music and im always using keys as my mix order and because there is a lot melodies and to avoid chaos. Im always preparing my set with loops etc and keys are really helpfull for me.

  • Boogie Louis
    Boogie Louis Member Posts: 18 Helper
    • I mix with 1 or 2 bars when songs are not in key and longer if they are in compatible keys.
    • I mix with compatible keys when the song I introduce might or might not keep the floor full.
    • Key does not matter when the song introduce is a sure dance floor filler.

    • DJ Housto
  • Jacco
    Jacco Member Posts: 15 Member

    When DJing I try to mix as much as possible paying mush attention to keys. I don't change keys to be able to mix tracks. I frequently set (short) loop on instrumental parts without melody ;-) But in the night life when requests come in.... mixing is normally impossible due to all different styles.

  • George Espinosa
    George Espinosa Member Posts: 16 Member
    edited January 30

    I sometimes use the key to help me select the next song, especially if it's music I'm not familar with. This is the case for most dance music like disco, funk, r&b, etc. House music usually has a drum intro, so it doesn't matter as much. However, if it's a rock song that is heavy with guitars on the mids, then using the key is essential.

    I never change the key/pitch of a song though.

    George E. aka dj G. 24/7

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