DJ Mineh Ishida

Harmonic Mixing

Today, I had a world opened to me by friend and fellow DJ, DJ Bacon.  Chris Bacon is a West Coast Swing DJ out of Michigan.  Let me give you some back history.

When I was a younger man learning the art of DJing, I read a book called How to DJ Right: The Art and Science of Playing Records. You can tell this is an old book because it talks about the art of playing records. In it, I learned a lot of the basics of DJing that I still employ today. One of the most interesting concepts in the book however was a DJ skill called Harmonic Mixing.

Harmonic Mixing is simply figuring out what the key is of the song you are playing, and following it up with a song that is in a harmonic or compatible pitch. Kind of like making chords on a guitar or piano. By doing this, you lessen the strain on the listener when transitioning between songs of different styles, tempos, etc. You use a thing called the Camelot Chart to quickly determine what keys the next song can be.

The Camelot Chart

At the time, it was an interesting concept, but the problem was you’d have to go through your tracks one by one with a keyboard and figure out what pitch it was. Needless to say, the work didn’t seem worth it.

We then move into the realm of Digital DJing. Virtual DJ, my DJ software of choice included auto pitch finding as part of its software feature set. This was exciting for all of us who used the software. Unfortunately, the software wasn’t very accurate. It very rarely got the pitch of the song correctly, rendering the entire process useless. Enter DJ Bacon.

While speaking with him today about the challenges of doing harmonic mixing, he mentioned that he used a software package called Mixed in Key. After doing some cursory research, I decided to give it a shot. Needless to say, I’m hooked. It accurately determined all of the pitches of the tracks in my collection, and did a great job detecting BPM as well. I mixed a sample set for about an hour and I can honestly say that I will never go back to random mixes again. From this point forward, Harmonic Mixing will be a part of my arsenal of DJ tricks.

The song transitions just felt like they fit. They were smooth, and the impact of switching genres was lessened considerably. For a West Coast Swing DJ, this is quite important!

I’m so impressed with this in fact that I’ve asked DJ Bacon to write a review and tutorial of the software. THat will be coming soon, so stay tuned, or at least harmonized!

About the Author:

DJ Mineh Ishida is a west coast swing DJ living in Tampa, FL.  He founded WestCoastSwingMusic.com in 2012 and is passionate about contributing to the West Coast Swing community through DJing and his work with this website.  You can Find more information about DJ Mineh on the About Page.  For booking Inquiries, please use this Contact Form.