If you thought basic mixing of two tracks, merging four decks and including a little beat juggling in your performance is all there is to being a excellent DJ, you still have a long way to go. Any worthwhile DJ would swear by the importance of harmonic mixing – also known as mixing in key – in lending their music that definite edge and freshness.
What is Harmonic Mixing?
To put it in layman’s terms, harmonic mixing is the ability to blend different songs so that your transition doesn’t sound abrupt or jerky. However, that is the very basic premise on which the principle of harmonic mixing is based. Today, it’s seen as an essential tool that every DJ must master in order to open up the seamless wealth of possibilities through creative mixing.
Have you ever heard two completely divergent songs and felt like they were meant to be played together? What makes two songs sound completely in sync, while others sound like a jarring combination? Being 'in key' is a crucial factor here that determines how well, two or more songs blend with each other; that is what harmonic mixing is all about.
Harmonic Mixing Tips
Knowing that your success at DJing rests largely on your ability to mix harmonically and do it well, you’ll want to get started on learning the art of harmonic mixing. Here are a few tips and tricks that can come in handy:
1. The secret to successful harmonic mixing lies in your knowledge of musical keys and music in general. You can experiment with blending different keys only when you know all your musical keys and how they work, both individually and in combination with others. The greater your knowledge and understanding of keys, the better your chances of bringing innovation to ‘mixing in key’ techniques.
2. Mixing harmonically should not be mistaken for mixing in the same key. If you keep mixing songs in a single key all night, your audience will soon be bored of the resulting music. The word 'harmonic' is fundamental here and mixing in key is all about bringing together songs that are harmonically attuned. If you feel limited by your own knowledge of musical keys, you can rely on the Camelot Wheel for better results.
3. Your limitations in the field of music theory, if any, should not interfere with your harmonic mixing abilities because there is DJ software and hardware to do the job for you. Mixed In Key is the most popular mixing software used by DJ’s across the world for improved harmonic mixing results.
Once you drop all your music folders in the software window and click on the 'analyse' option, the software automatically shows you the musical key of each track. All you really need is an ear trained to identify whether a mix is actually working well.
Harmonic mixing isn’t rocket science. But once you have mastered the technique, you’ll swear by its importance for good DJing. Good harmonic mixing skills are a DJ’s biggest asset as it allows you to avoid musical wrecks due to combining clashing keys and lends novelty to music by avoiding repetitions. Harmonic mixing also allows you to experiment with music from different genres and keeps your sets interesting.