Harmonic Mixing is a DJ technique that is being embraced more and more lately, not just by the pros, but also by DJs of all styles and walks of life. It involves mixing tracks that are in the same musical key, or keys that compliment each other. If a mix is “in key” it means that the two (or more) songs that your mixing share the same set of notes, or similar sets of notes which gives the effect that the two songs are “singing” together. For example if you were to play two songs that are in the key of C Major, both songs will only have notes that are white keys on the piano. When you play the two songs together the notes from the songs will compliment each other when overlapped, and the two songs will play together in harmony.
Nowadays harmonic mixing is becoming an industry standard for professional DJs since it enables them to find tracks that sound amazing together quickly. The main tool for harmonic mixing is a program called Mixed In Key. Mixed In Key is a program that will analyze your music files and write the musical keys of your songs into the file (ID3) information of your tracks. You can choose to write the keys into the comments field, artist field, track name, or even the file itself. The keys will then show up in iTunes, Traktor, Serato or whatever other DJ program you choose to use.
Check out my article on Harmonic Mixing for more info on Harmonic Mixing and Harmonic Mixing techniques by clicking here.
One of the new features of the website is the musical keys are now written into files for each song you buy. They’ve also allowed for users to comment on the songs if the keys are incorrect on the site in their user voice section.
Ironically enough, just after Beatport announced that they are now writing the keys into their songs, Mixed In Key released the newest version of their Harmonic Mixing software, Mixed In Key 5 which has an improved key detection algorithm, as well as the ability to see key changes in the middle of a track and improved analysis for shorter samples.
Now that both Mixed In Key 5 and the new Beatport website are available to the public I thought it would be a good time to do another Harmonic Mixing Lab report DJ Endo style to see who has the best Key detection algorithm on the Market. You can see my previous lab report on Mixed In Key 4 Here: “Harmonic Mixing Part 3: How Accurate is Mixed In Key?” In this test, I’ve taken 100 songs that I’ve recently purchased from Beatport and compared my results (songs that I’ve manually found the key of using a piano) vs. Mixed In Key and Beatports results.
Just a little background on me, I’m classically trained and I’ve been keying EVERY song that I buy for about 6 years now on the Piano. I’ve been a hardcore beta tester for Mixed In Key since the beginning, and have sent them thousands of tracks that I’ve keyed on the piano to help with their algorithm. I am very confident that my results are 100% accurate.
View/download a chart with all of the results below:
On this chart are MY results (songs I have keyed on the piano), Mixed In Key 5’s results and Beatports results. Any song that was incorrectly analyzed is highlighted in BOLD letters. And in the Key Detection battle the winner is…
(drum roll please…)
MIXED IN KEY!
Here are the results from my testing:
Mixed In Key = 81% accurate
Out of 100 songs analyzed in Mixed In Key, 81 were correctly analyzed. Out of the songs that were incorrectly analyzed 10 of them were a fifth off, which means they were only one number off in the Camelot wheel (ex. 8A is analyzed in Mixed In Key as a 9A). Mind you, most of these tracks were tech house, deep house, and techno so all of them didn’t have strong harmonic content. Not too shabby!
Beatport = 68% accurate
Out of the 100 songs that I looked up on Beatport, only 68 of the songs had the keys correctly written in. Of the 32 tracks that were analyzed incorrectly, 8 of those tracks had the correct root note of the scale but they would show up as major key when the track was in a minor key and visa versa (example A Minor shows up as A Major or C Major shows up as C Minor). Also 8 of the tracks that were incorrectly analyzed, were analyzed a fifth off (ex. 8A analyzed as 9A on the Camelot wheel). The rest of the tracks were completely off.
As a conclusion, I have to say Mixed In Key 5 is AMAZING and has come a long way with its key detection! I was completely blown away by its accuracy. Any track with some kind of recognizable melody in it is usually analyzed correctly by Mixed In Key. I would highly recommend everyone upgrade to Mixed In Key 5. If you don’t have Mixed In Key yet, what are you waiting for?! Its under $60 and will completely change your DJ life forever!
Beatport on the other hand has a lot of improvement to do on their key detection. Hopefully their userbase helps out by posting on their user voice page with the correct keys, or they adopt a new key detection algorithm. However, The new Beatport website is completely aimed for the DJ, and I have been spending many all nighters digging through thousands of tracks on their website.
Congratulations to Beatport for the release of their new website, and congratulations to Mixed In Key for taking their software and DJing to the next level! But in the key detection battle, Mixed In Key wins this round!
DJ Endo is a DJ and product specialist for Native Instruments and lives in Brooklyn. Listen to his mixes on SoundCloud.
DJ Endo – Live @ Oil City Roadhouse [Edmonton, AB, Canada] – Opening Set for Pete Tong by DJ Endo