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Thread: Pitch Control on when playing vinyl

  1. #1
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    Smile Pitch Control on when playing vinyl

    Iím looking for some advice on what happens to the change in key of a track when playing vinyl.

    Letís say Iím using a turntable like a Technics 1210. It has a +/- of 8% on the pitch control. If I have a track playing at 0 and the Camelot key is 8A and itís original bpm is 130bpm, what happens to the key (and bpm) if the record is increased my 1%? Or decreased by 1%? How does the Camelot scale work?

    Iím keen to understand the impact on the pitch control adjustment on a turntable that plays vinyl if anyone has any advice or knowledge on how it affects the key and bpm of records.

    TIA

  2. #2
    BanHammerô Manu's Avatar
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    There isn't a set formula for harmonic mixing on vinyl, but 6% will shift the key by one semitone. For the BPM, simply do the maths, 6% of 130 BPM is 7.8

    Managing to mix harmonically vinyl is more often down to luck, ''happy accidents'' as I call it. It is near impossible to find records that will match in speed and key within a 6% pitch margin or more.
    My SoundCloud ______ My MixCloud
    "Wrong speed, we've got it on the wrong speed. For those of you who are recovering from a hangover, that's gonna sound just right. " - Robin Williams

  3. #3
    Moderator pete's Avatar
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    There's the science part of mixing and the non-science "emotional" side.
    While it is good to understand both sides of it, to get the crowd on your side the emotional side usually wins out.
    When I started out I had all the BPMs labelled on my tracks and the keys marked out.
    I learned to be able to accurately BPM any track within a few bars. Keys and harmonics always passed me by cos I have no music training.

    I soon stopped writing the BPM on my records. It was not important. I knew my records and styles. Getting a good mix and learning the tracks inside out was important.
    I learned the records that went together well in sets, often using more than 2 sources. When it was in another key, I learned when to drop the tracks in and out.

    Later on I even laid out mixes on the computer so it was super perfect to the millisecond on mixes, keys and FX. Boring to make, bland to listen to.

    Still the only thing that really brings me joy, and the listener appreciates, is the emotional performance and the knowledge of tracks. Holding down a 10 minute mix on 3 decks with wild drums and multiple build ups and breakdowns all held together by the skin of it's teeth...much more interesting to watch and listen to.
    Otherwise the DJ is just a glorified jukebox with a robotic precision on the mixing. Technically perfect, but no soul.
    Last edited by pete; 11-19-2021 at 12:44 AM.
    bored, curious, deaf or just bad taste in music?
    finally a mix by me
    and what's this, another shoddy mix...another dull mix

  4. #4
    BanHammerô Manu's Avatar
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    Then the thing is, you don't have to keep it in key, you can shift keys, have fun trying
    My SoundCloud ______ My MixCloud
    "Wrong speed, we've got it on the wrong speed. For those of you who are recovering from a hangover, that's gonna sound just right. " - Robin Williams

  5. #5
    Member Daniel S's Avatar
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    Either you would stay within 1-2%, which is close enough to the original key to not matter too much, unless you have perfect pitch. Or you would go off towards 6%, which like Manu said is one semitone. Another thing you could do if the difference is around 6%, is to pitch one track up 3.3% and the other down 3.3%. If they are one semitone apart they will meet in the middle and won't sound as chipmunky or as slow as if you would pitch up or down the full 6%.

  6. #6
    Technically, changing the pitch is not quite the same as changing the key. The key is determined by the base note of the scale as well as the interval of the notes in the scale. Shifting pitch changes the base note but doesn't change the intervals, so you can't just go to any other key by shifting pitch.

    That said, you can often get away with it because the bassline is so dominant in most electronic dance music.

    But it's good to understand that pitch and key are not the same thing and so there's no magic number that will always work, you ultimately have to listen and decide if each combo is going to work (pitched or not).

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