Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

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Citizen
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Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by Citizen » Mon Jun 29, 2015 7:41 am

My knowledge of theory is pretty basic, so please forgive me if this is a really obvious question.

If one is making music that is ultimately directed at a dancefloor – and is to be mixed with other tunes by a DJ, would using scales beyond the Natural Major and Minor scales make one's track harmonically incompatible with the vast majority of dancefloor music?

Tarekith
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Re: Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by Tarekith » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:05 am

Not neccesarily. It can for sure, but just because you're using exotic scales doesn't mean that some of the same notes won't be present. Also, for years people were DJing with records and altering the overall pitch slightly to get the tempos to match. So even when things aren't perfectly in the same key it doesn't mean they won't sound good together.

That said there's definitely a greater possibility of issues if you're not using the same western scales that most people will likely be using. Personally, I say be different :)

Citizen
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Re: Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by Citizen » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:21 am

Thats kind of my thinking Tarekith...

...I figure that if there are 'enough' same notes present, a mix of two records will sound harmonic, but with the occasional dissonant note – which would perhaps give the mix a 'blue note' feel, with a bit of friction.

Does that sound about right? :?:

Also, with my limited forays into harmonic DJ mixing, not everything mixes well 'just because' they are harmonically compatible. 8) There are so many factors (composition, rhythm, arrangement, timbre, density) which I've probably learned to subconsciously assess – hence my mixing is much more intuitive and fluid when I pay no heed to trying to wedge every mix into a harmonic framework.

Citizen
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Re: Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by Citizen » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:26 am

At the same time, if I can attain a wide emotive range using only the Natural scales – it would be perhaps counterproductive to choose a scale that limits the playability of a track by DJs.

I know that I have many tracks, that due to their unconventionality, become less likely choices in the heat of a DJ set – as they increase the possibility of screw-up. (although generally the factors are usually arrangment - ie. long sections without any metronomic element, or faded-in intros that don't offer a clear 1st beat, for example)

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Re: Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by Tarekith » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:48 am

I guess it depends on what your priority is, selling records or making exactly the music you want. Neither is right for everyone, so that's your call I'm afraid. :)

Citizen
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Re: Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by Citizen » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:39 am

Fair play. I also make a considerable amount of music that has zero dancefloor focus (soundscapey stuff, and downtempo things) – so that absolutely explores different angles without any regard for 'compatibility' with other music.

I think that when you make a style of music in which direct juxtaposition (via mixing) is fundamental to its performance, then that ultimate function of the track is, at the very least, a consideration.

I just know, as a DJ myself, that functionality doesn't necesarily equate to generic shite (although it can well do) :wink: and unless it opens vastly greater expressive/emotive scope, I don't see the point in making something that will be overtly problematic to mix. There is a bit of a craft in making a track with creative merit and something that DJs will find inspiring to mix with.

I just find that there are some tracks that are immensely flexible, and fun to mix with - WITHOUT compromising creative expression.

Incidentally do you feel limited in the expressive/emotive scope of the natural major and minor scales?

Citizen
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Re: Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by Citizen » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:43 am

Also, could you please offer some comment on the following point:
Citizen wrote:Thats kind of my thinking Tarekith...

...I figure that if there are 'enough' same notes present, a mix of two records will sound harmonic, but with the occasional dissonant note – which would perhaps give the mix a 'blue note' feel, with a bit of friction.

Does that sound about right? :?:

dna598
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Re: Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by dna598 » Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:21 am

Just make whatever you like!
ctrl + left/right = select transient

ctrl + shift + left/right = select between transients

ctrl + space = play selection

Tarekith
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Re: Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by Tarekith » Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:08 am

Citizen wrote:Also, could you please offer some comment on the following point:
Citizen wrote:Thats kind of my thinking Tarekith...

...I figure that if there are 'enough' same notes present, a mix of two records will sound harmonic, but with the occasional dissonant note – which would perhaps give the mix a 'blue note' feel, with a bit of friction.

Does that sound about right? :?:
Sure, there's nothing wrong with using dissonance once in awhile to build tension. I do it in my sets all the time.

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Re: Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by muthafunka » Tue Jun 30, 2015 11:16 am

As a dj letting the key of tracks dictate your whole set is....far from a guarantee of a good time. Unless you're recording the next Sasha mix cd just do what you want, and even then plenty of off-key stuff sounds just fine. Yet another sterile key-perfect mix is not the way forward.

cabletone
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Re: Implications of using unusual scales for dance music?

Post by cabletone » Wed Jul 01, 2015 7:21 pm

Just make what sounds good. Let the DJ worry about how to mix it. Records are not always harmonically mixed. A lot of DJs don't even think about it. And a little dissonance isn't always a bad thing, it can add tension sometimes.

If one track clashes with another badly, a DJ can mix a part of a track that is just a drum break.

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