Colorization of Clips for DJ Mixing

colorization1.pngI just read the latest Remix magazine, October 2007, and it had a couple of really intriguing articles. One was about the techniques DJ Moldover is using, the customized Novation SL keyboard with ribbon controllers was just plain amazing, as well as the custom 4-bar chopping Reaktor plug-in that is available as a download — I need to test that one out. If you have a chance to check out Moldover sessions on YouTube, try to see what he’s doing, he’s one of the bleeding edge controller DJs out there.

Anyway, the other thing he mentioned — and to remember, he is the ultimate mashup of clips — is that he deliberately saves the pitches for clips in only the following keys: A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Can’t be simpler. With complex mode it’s also a no-brainer. This makes his choices much easier than to try to remember to pitch some parts down, and others up. I will most likely re-save my clips into this simplified format, as well.

The other technique he is using is to colorize the clips based on how well the keys work together, for example, B and D keys don’t work together, so they have very different colorization, let’s say pink and dark blue. While B and E will work well, so those are pink and red.

I would most likely extend this to use another shade for major and minor keys. Just now I’m just registering the key somewhere in the clip, so that works for me — I visualize a keyboard in my head to see if that works or not when mixing together tracks. Anyway, these techniques were worth mentioning.

8 Comments:

  1. At least my tracks are all in minor (with just a few exceptions), so getting rid of “sharps” narrows your options quite a lot to be honest.

    Concidered you have most of the tracks in minor, there’s only one minor key, that allows to jump into one major key.
    A minor to C major for instance.

    Then when you would like to come back to minors, You’d have to come back to A minor. Luckily, IF using mostly minors when playing harmonically, you get well along with just minor scale chart.

  2. I have never played an instrument or studied music but when harmonic mixing was explained to me it made perfect sense. I tend to use the idiots guide, the camelot easy mix system. From this system I tried to match the colours they used.

    I also use the xone – mixed in key software, which writes the key and bpm at the beginning of the file.

    I might put very short samples of music colour coded by musical key into a set and use that as a key/legend to consistently colour code until i know it without referencing.

    Enjoying the blog

    Ste

  3. Cool to find out how others use key-in mixing. Yes, the beauty with Live is that anyone could customize the way how they know about keys and mixing, the options are available. Unless Live suddenly releases a feature in the next release that gives us the key in addition to BPM, as well…

  4. With extensive record (or should I say track) collection, you can play the whole set harmonically, do a normal build up for the set, and still move around the whole scale. It just needs some preparation and some thought put into it.

    You can easily bend the key, lift or lower it by few semitones, but when over done, It’ll sound just terrible.

    Luckily, knowing the scales, you can play any two tracks together (within reasonable bpm difference) just by pitching the latter one 2 semitones up or down at max.

    Kent, you’ll find the tutorial for this from ALDJ.com, written by Zonker.

  5. and by few semitones I mean within range -2 to +2 semitones.

  6. Hi, yes I’ve seen the Zonker tutorial. For me, it’s just easier to visualize on a keyboard what scales work together with what other key while I have two tracks with different scales to be played on Ableton Live. After while, if you play a lot of improvisational music, like jazz, it becomes second nature.

  7. I have no musical theory knowledge and would appreciate any help pointers or links. I will have a read of the zonker tutorial. i am interested to find out more…

    ill have to get the manual out and have a read of the transposition parts, and start playing with it.

    This is why i love ableton, for me it sits perfectly between DJing and actual music production, with sound engineering capabilities as well. Since switching from vinyl and cd mixing, as seen the vast possibilities of it. i have been on a very steep learning curve – which is frustrating and rewarding.

    i am currently trying to do my first re re-edit of a track. jori hulkonnen science. just cutting it up and trying permutations, so much fun.

    ste

  8. Yes, whatever tool works, is fine. I’m myself very rusty on musical theory, the little I have in my brain is from practical playing, what chords work with what chords, and not.

    Yes, isn’t it amazing how many ways you could remix tracks with Ableton Live. I just wish they had folders in the next release, so I could keep tons of tracks around, disabled, but not showing up in the timeline (some of my productions have 4-10 disabled tracks, just in case material.).

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