You see it on forums and social media user groups and hear DJs talking about it all the time — “beat matching“, “beat mixing“, and “beat sync“. If you didn’t know better you’d think it was the only skill required to provide an unforgettable listening experience for your fans and clients.
We agree that mixing songs on beat is absolutely a core skill every DJ should learn, even with the beat sync and beat lock features found in DEX 3, but mixing songs harmonically can take your mixes to new heights — creating on-the-fly mashups of different tracks that sound like they were created to be played together.
When you hear a perfect mix that sounds like it was done in the studio and not by the performing DJ you can bet they are mixing songs in key in addition to on beat. The melodies intertwine as if they were a match made in production heaven.
When mixing open format or mixing pop music, mixing in key is even more vital as you’re often left without longer intro’s and outro’s as mix in and out points. You will have overlaying melodies that will clash unless you’re taking key into account.
In yesteryear it was considerably a more difficult task to mix songs harmonically as DJs largely had to rely almost exclusively on their own ears. While still a practiced skill DJs will inherently learn as they build more time behind the digital DJ decks, DEX 3 (pro) provides a simpler method…
DEX 3 will detect both the BPM and KEY of a song (turn on “key detection” under the General Tab in DEX 3’s options to enable it) when loaded into a deck or during batch analyzation. DEX 3 will calculate and display both the modified Camelot Scale (pre /) and musical key (post /). Both keys are displayed in the DEX 3 browser near the BPM tag.
Once you’ve scanned your tracks you can use DEX 3’s “Key Search” to quickly locate songs of the same key (some DJs will use DEX 3’s color coding for different key values so they can visual identify songs of the same key quickly).
DJs can also use DEX 3’s “Key Stepper” to adjust a songs key on the fly to match the key of the playing track (Turn on High Quality Time Stretching under the General Tab in DEX 3’s options for Key Stepping to work).
If you haven’t tried creating mixes using songs of the same or similar key it’s time to give it a go. Your mixes will sound better for it, and your fans and clients will appreciate it. Even if they don’t know why!
How-To Use DEX 3’s Key Detection And Key Search Features
Have questions about key detection, mixing in key, mixing harmonically, or searching for key in DEX 3? Please leave them in the comments section below!