Camelot Wheel: How to Mix Harmonically Using the Camelot System

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If you have already honed your mixing skills in the basics of DJing and want to expand your repertoire or simply turbocharge your craft to new levels of mixing proficiency, then there is no better way to do it than with the Camelot Wheel.

You will be able to get to the next level in your craft when you create time to learn some of the Camelot Wheel tricks that can help you to radically improve your DJ skills.

DJs use the Camelot Wheel to mix tracks harmonically.

It helps them mix the tracks in key.

The Camelot Wheel basically constitutes a circle of fifths that has been repurposed using a numerical value system to make it easy to use for people who are not yet familiar with the key signatures.

DJing has evolved into a very complex musical art over the past 7 decades.

It requires not just solid practice and dedication but also great technical skills to pull it off.

It takes a lot of effort and craft to deliver a seamless rendition on the deck.

In the olden days, DJing rotated around juggling the beats and scratching using vinyl records.

In the 21st century, DJing has been reduced almost to a science.

The range and sophistication of DJ gear has expanded considerably and with it, the horizons of the music industry have also expanded to unimaginable levels.

Modern DJs have access to very innovative software and hardware tools with which to extend their musical expression.

For DJs who want to take their mixing skills and techniques to a whole new level of mastery and genius, the Camelot Wheel offers the perfect system and bridge with which you can reach that DJing nirvana.  

The Camelot Wheel consists of numerical values representing the keys with the letters distinguishing between the minor scales (A) and the major scales (B).

The Camelot Wheel system is very integral to the production and writing of music but it also helps in simplifying the ordering process by ensuring that you won’t have to memorize or even know the order in which the circle of fifths lies.

Most of the current DJ apps and software can scan audio files to explore critical information such as the key and tempo.

In DJing software such as Rekordbox and Serato, you even have the capability to assign Camelot values although the analysis may not be 100% accurate.

Some applications do a better job and deliver very accurate scanning of the key values.

What is Harmonic Mixing?

What is Harmonic Mixing and how does camelot wheel help with harmonic mixing

Harmonic mixing is an advanced and powerful mixing technique that is used by some of the world’s top DJs such as David Guetta who are at the zenith of their craft.

Many of these top DJs use the Mixed in Key software for their harmonic mixing.

Through harmonic mixing, ingenuous DJs using this simple technique can open a whole new world with lots of creative possibilities simply by blending vocals, samples, whole tracks, basslines, and melodies.

Harmonic mixing helps you create amazing sounds that will set you apart from the crowd.

Once you have mastered this technique, you now have the skills to create some of the most flawless musical mixes and mash-ups and you will learn lots of innovative ways through which you can take charge of the energy of the set.

Harmonic mixing entails mixing tracks that are in similar or related keys to create beautiful long blends and mash-ups while simultaneously helping you avoid the key clashes.

For example, you can use the technique to create a mix between 12A and 1A.

It works well with relative scales which are all sharing the same notes.

To execute it, you’ve got to know the keys in all the songs that you play and have a grasp of which of these keys are compatible.

As a professional DJ, you can Mix in Key with the Camelot Wheel to create some of the most delightful transitions between the tracks which are in your mixes.

By developing your harmonic mixing technique with the Camelot Wheel, you can easily develop your signature style that will differentiate your mixes from those of other DJs at the top of their craft, whether on the dancefloor or on the music streaming portals such as MixCloud and SoundCloud.

An Overview of the Camelot Wheel

Camelot Wheel - How to Mix Harmonically Using the Camelot System

Let’s look at the basics one should know about camelot wheel:

What is the Camelot Wheel and 
How Does It Help You With Harmonic Mixing?

The Camelot Wheel is a harmonic mixing system that was developed by Mixed in Key.

It consists of a simple and intuitive visual system used by DJs to mix between tracks that have been produced in different keys.

It’s a visual system that is so simple that it can even be read and used by someone who may not have a grounding in musical theory.

Using the Camelot Wheel system entails keenly analyzing the tracks to be mixed with Mixed in Key.

The normal DJ software can undertake an automatic analysis of the keys but it will most probably write it in the standard format that will require some knowledge of music theory to decipher.

With Mixed in Key, you can get a more accurate analysis that is easily usable even for someone without knowledge of music theory.

The Genres of Music That Need Harmonic Mixing

There are certain music genres that easily lend themselves to harmonic mixing.

These are generally those genres that are heavily melodic and which have evolving pads, bass parts, and lead synths.

These include music such as EDM, house, all kinds of trance music, and dubstep among others.

These are typically songs that span several different keys and where mixing out of key will end up ruining the mix.

Some other musical genres deserve less of harmonic attention and include drum n’ bass music that has just a few keys hence less need for harmonic mixing.

If you are mixing your tracks and are getting plenty of horrendous dissonances, chances are that you need to focus on some keys using a harmonic mixing technique.  

Why Do Harmonic Mixing?

The simple reason is that you will avoid the dreadful dissonance and create a more harmonious final product.

By harmonizing your mixes, you can create beautiful blends of evolving and interwoven music that has the highs and the lows, the breakdowns, and the buildups.

Harmonic mixing also enables you to bring out certain moods and energy levels in your rendition.

For your audiences, the end result can be exhilarating with exciting, hard-hitting, and simply mind-blowing mixes.  

Harmonic Mixing Techniques

If you have a grounding in music theory, then you can easily grasp how these techniques work.

However, if you have zero knowledge of musical theory and can’t differentiate the As from the Ds or the sharps from the flats, the Camelot system will really come in handy to help you execute flawless harmonic mixes.

Not only is it easy to learn but you can also easily experiment with this technique to see what works for you.

With the Camelot Wheel, you can be in the same spot and create a continuous mix.

The Camelot system will work great for the mid-set roll where the DJ is consistently dropping one tune after another using the same key.

You will still need to change the key at particular instances otherwise you will begin having a dull sounding set.

The Fundamentals: Minor/Major Transitions

The Fundamentals of camelot wheel - learn how to mix with camelot wheel

First, let’s begin with the basics.

Every major and minor key will also have its major minor relative.

In harmonic mixing, you will be moving from major to minor or from minor to major while maintaining a similar relative key.

Harmonic mixing entails seamlessly modulating the related keys in order to bring out the continuity and drama in your sound.  

For you to achieve this, you have to maintain the same number as you move from letter A to B.

Absolute Key Changes

In order to execute an absolute key change, you can move up and down a similar absolute position in the major minor.

For instance, you can shift from the F-sharp Major to the F-sharp Minor.

This is a bit difficult to execute on the Camelot Mixing Wheel.

You can move from the major to minor by subtracting 3 from minor to major by adding 3.

Complete the execution by flipping letter E.

Upshifting Key

An upshift in key is also known as key modulation.

This feature is available in several tunes.

When upshifting is executed well, you can use it to spurn a massive surge in the dancefloor energy.

This is a very overt sound that may come out brashly if you aren’t careful with the execution.

Even professional mixers won’t create it all the time.

For the best quality effect with the upshift in key, you will need to shift it two semitones by adding 2 to the number.

How to Mix with Related Notes

One way to bring out really unique mixes is by mixing across the Camelot Wheel.

In this case, obviously, you will be dealing with related individual notes between the two keys.

However, the extent to which this will give you some interesting mixes is dependent on additional melodic components.

The diagonal mixing technique isn’t difficult to execute.

You simply need to move a single step up or down in the number or the letter but if you are moving from B to A, you will need to add one and if you are moving from A to B, you will need to subtract.

Using Dissonance

Many DJs try to avoid dissonance even though it can really bring out the energy and “soul” in some tracks.

There are music tracks that will sound really good when you delicately layer them with a key that may not work conventionally or even absolutely.

There are dissonant mixes that will give you very good results but you will need to add on this depending on the individual tracks.

David Guetta, for example, typically adds a 4 or an 8 to the number for his dissonant mixes.

However, you should be careful when using dissonance.

This technique may result in very interesting melodic mixes that may sound dark, twisted, powerful, and sometimes euphoric but it will not work with some tracks.

This is a technique that you will need to refine and also know where to use them.

Final Thoughts

To be a top-rated DJ and artist at the peak of their craft, you need to learn some advanced DJ techniques.

If you can master and add many techniques to your DJing toolbox, you will be in a position to handle a vaster scope for your performance.

It also puts you in good stead to handle a large repertoire of work.

Harmonic mixing creates sounds that are more dramatic, fluent, energetic, and impressive.

In the beginning, these may sound like complex techniques to adapt but once you grow into them, incorporating them into your mixes will be easier and more intuitive.