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Thread: Question about keys

  1. #1
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    Question about keys

    Hi, noob DJ here, so tin hat firmly on.

    I've been fooling around with mixing software for quite some time, but haven't quite made the step up to DJing in front of a crowd yet.

    I have a question regarding keys.

    As someone who isn't a fan of keylock (as the algorithms degrade the sound quality too much for my liking). Am I right in saying that if you speed a track up by more than 3%, the key moves up a semitone, or down a semitone if decreased by over the same amount?

    For example, if i'm playing a track that is in A Minor (8A) and I have it sped up by over 3%, would that increase the chances of the track mixing in well with a track in A-Sharp Minor (3A) if that track is playing at it's normal BPM rate?

    I've been experimenting with this and it seems to work. I'm just curious at to what other DJs opinions are on this and how commonly they use this mixing technique.

  2. #2
    It does change if you change the tempo, but I'm not sure what it changes to.

    I usually listen to it and see if i hear a key clash. Even if you are DJing out you can listen in your headphones.

  3. #3
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    It's been in the back of my mind to want to know the maths for this for some time... Not for Dj'ing but for music production. I leave the key down to feeling when Dj'ing but in music production I might pitch the sound up a bit the old fashioned way, then do the rest of the BPM jump with an algo that locks the pitch. The problem being, when pitching the old fashioned way, the pitch we are now at might fall inbetween the notes for when layering synths on top of it.

  4. #4
    It's not entirely true that shifting the pitch shifts the key, because the key is based on what notes are used, the notes are defined by their pitch in relation to each other, not their absolute pitch. The standard tuning of 440HZ is "A" is just that.. a standard. When you change the pitch you change the tuning. But when mixing electronic music that is not very melodic it seems like you are changing the key, because the bass note dominates our perception of the key. There aren't a lot of other notes to establish scales in the key... So pitch shifting can make tracks seem to be in a different key.. sometimes. And sometimes not.

    You have to listen and decide if it works.

    If that makes any sense.

  5. #5
    Junior Member BDC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TranceSpinner View Post
    As someone who isn't a fan of keylock (as the algorithms degrade the sound quality too much for my liking). Am I right in saying that if you speed a track up by more than 3%, the key moves up a semitone, or down a semitone if decreased by over the same amount?

    For example, if i'm playing a track that is in A Minor (8A) and I have it sped up by over 3%, would that increase the chances of the track mixing in well with a track in A-Sharp Minor (3A) if that track is playing at it's normal BPM rate?

    I've been experimenting with this and it seems to work. I'm just curious at to what other DJs opinions are on this and how commonly they use this mixing technique.
    I have never, not ever - mixed anything because of a track's key. I don't know anything about keys - if you told me a certain track was at a C Minor - ok...?
    Can I mix it in with the next track??

    For me, using the keylock function is primarily for vocals. If you want to maintain the vocals while speeding up/slowing down the track to beatmatch.
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    Light O... If a track is major or minor... that will never change as that's more to do with relation. What we're interesting in is if a tracks first note is A, how much pitch shift does that note become B, C and so on, which does happen. I wan't to know this relation in BPM Scale, % and MS (but not for Dj'ing).

    I rarely use keylock, I'm old fashioned and I can hear the algorithm, it kills transients. But, when I used MixMeister for CD's (ages ago), some long mixes that didn't match sounded amazing if only locking 1 track. Once this track was shifted its higher 'key' puts it out of tune to the tune. It staying in it's original key/pitch (or bumped 1 or 2 regardless of the BPM shift), matches perfectly. When right clicking we could go in and change the settings for the track.

    It all depends how one hears the track when getting that inspiration to mix it. Relative pitch vs Perfect pitch (which is an actual thing). Would you hear the track at the pitch it's made at regardless to speed/BPM or do you hear it shifted. When i was doing the MixMeister thing I was trying tracks together that weren't coming from live inspiration, which is when i noticed it as a thing!

    When I get the inspiration for what to play next, if it's faster or slower, I must hear the new track relative to what it would be. Possibly from years of speeding up and slowing down vinyl. It does make a difference. If a DJ heard things at original, they'd be constantly inspired to mix songs that will clash, once the BPM's had been matched the notes of that record have shifted higher or lower, depending, which is different from what they heard when inspired to mix it.

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    I use Rekordbox which I like as it analyses the key and stops me mixing things into ugly key clashes.

    (and I have pitch lock on my CDJs on near permanently)

  8. #8
    Well OK here is a page from the audacity documentation that explains the math...
    https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Half_step

    Here's a chart:

    https://www.mixxx.org/wiki/doku.php/...ones_and_notes

    As you will see, a pitch shift of approx 5.95% is one semitone, but since the notes are logarithmically spaced, adding an additional 5.95% doesn't get you an additional semitone of shift.. each interval requires a slightly larger shift than the last.

    Here's another cool page on the subject:

    https://www.ams.jhu.edu/dan-mathofmu...tes-intervals/

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by BDC View Post
    I have never, not ever - mixed anything because of a track's key.
    You probably have and you just don't know it. You listened to the track and it sounded wrong mixing from the other track so you didn't play it.. or it sounded good so you did ..

    Whether you knew the key ahead of time or not is irrelevant to the fact that the tracks are each in a key and the key each track is in has a big effect on how they will sound together. If.you know that information ahead of time you can use that to help decide what track to play. If you don't use that info but just mix by ear then you are still considering key because you are picking tracks that sound good together ...

  10. #10
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    That 2nd link is more what I'm looking for... Thank you Light O. I'll add some rep but apparently I need to spread it around first before giving it to you again.

    What I'm after is the ability to pitch up a sample a Semi tone or 2, the BPM changes and, we know what the new BPM is.

    Currently we can
    1. Shift a sample in semi tones and the BPM stays the same.
    2. Time Stretch...
    A. With an Algo, via BPM changes or Ratio, Pitch stays the same.
    B. With out an Algo, via BPM changes or Ratio, Pitch changes.

    Problem with B is we know the new BPM but have no idea what the new note is. I'd like the feature of 1 in 2 to save us having to do the maths. Some kind of inbuilt calculator in the feature that implements it.

    I'm going to make a feature request over at Steinberg.

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