Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

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Citizen
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Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by Citizen » Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:24 am

I'm hoping that someone can please clear this up for me. Please bear with my basic understanding of musical theory. :)

Being that most electronic music destined for the dancefloor is created with djs in mind, with the idea being that it will be mixed simultaneously with other tracks from a given genre - what is the implication of working in obscure scales when composing electronic music for dancefloors?

My understanding is that the vast majority of dancefloor music is made in either bog-standard Major or Minor scales. Right? Hence if a producer was to make a track in, say, a Hungarian Minor scale, would it necessarily be harmonically incompatible with 99.9% of the rest of the music in a given genre?

Is it even possible to mix (in the sense of a DJ mix) two songs from different scales, and have them sound harmonious?

I'd really appreciate some thoughts on this. 8) Thanks in advance.

supamonsta
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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by supamonsta » Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:54 am

scales are also related to tempo when the song is done

when the DJ pushes the tempo up or down, it changes the tone, the global pitch

so you can have 2 tracks on the same scale but with different tempos, and then when the DJ does beatmatch, the scales will go out of harmony.

don't bother with harmony between 2 tracks for DJ tracks, this is the job for the DJ to get the mix well done and harmonized, if not, that's a bad DJ

if you produce dancefloor tracks for DJs, just be sure you put a 1-2 minutes intro with NO melody, and same for the outro, the DJ will mix one intro with one outro, and done, no scale problem ^^

Royalston
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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by Royalston » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:33 am

I have to disagree a little with supamonsta (sorry):
Most DJs play off Pioneer CDJ's these days (I certainly do) which have fixed pitch control (master tempo) to enable pretty accurate Harmonic mixing. I know the keys of my songs and aim to mix two songs whose keys overlap. You don't necessarily need a 'beats only' section of a track in that case.

To answer the OP:
Even with these 'weird' scales, there will be other scales/ keys that share enough notes to make a mix harmonious. Its often the case that not all the notes in the scale will be used at a particular point in a song, enabling two different keys, which contain different notes, to overlap and sound good (if mixed in the right place). Its all about choosing the right moment.




http://www.soundcloud.com/royalston

supamonsta
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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by supamonsta » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:07 am

I agree that you disagree Royalston,

I just omitted to say, "unless the DJ uses pitch correction if he's using traktor or devices that allow this such as CDJ's or some turntables"

but I don't trust pitch corrections quality, if you pitch a lot (tempo, or tune), you'll get a nasty sound I think, but I'm no DJ, so I don't know the great DJ harware, I only know traktor's pitch correction that is cool but not to be used at high values ^^

cheers

Royalston
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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by Royalston » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:48 am

I agree - I found traktor's pitch conversion to be a bit harsh on the sound quality - but the fancy CDJ's like pioneers 2000s are pretty good these days. The lower end CDJ's , like the ones I own - CDJ 850s, have a pitch control that does affect the bass notes a bit...kind of like the 'beat' stretching algorith in ableton, but it keeps everything pretty much in tune.

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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by re:dream » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:50 am

Yep, it not a problem.

E.G. a track in mixolydian scale will crossfade as harmoniously (or not) as a track in major or minor. Try it and see.

mr.ergonomics
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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by mr.ergonomics » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:42 pm

Royalston wrote:I agree - I found traktor's pitch conversion to be a bit harsh on the sound quality - but the fancy CDJ's like pioneers 2000s are pretty good these days. The lower end CDJ's , like the ones I own - CDJ 850s, have a pitch control that does affect the bass notes a bit...kind of like the 'beat' stretching algorith in ableton, but it keeps everything pretty much in tune.

I have almost no experience with cdjs...really interesting, did I get you right? you say that the cdj has a better pitch audio quality than traktor respectively abletons complex pro?

login
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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by login » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:03 pm

Depends on the dj, but if wants to drop that tracks cause he considers it good and he also feels it wont mix harmonical he probably will use some trick, like not mixing any melodic parts, cutting high frequencies, or making a very fast transition.

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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by pepezabala » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:06 pm

two tracks don't have to necessarily be in the same key and scale in order to sound good together.

Jack McOck
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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by Jack McOck » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:34 pm

All of my shit is out of tune anyway. If a DJ wants to mess with that, then that's his problem.

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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by SuburbanThug » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:41 pm

Jack McOck wrote:All of my shit is out of tune anyway. If a DJ wants to mess with that, then that's his problem.
:lol:
I used to run into trouble all the time mixing IDM and breakcore stuff. Pain in the ass. Some stuff that isn't perfectly in key can sound good as dissonance is a big part of music these days. Having mostly plain drums at the beginning and end is pretty common for dancefloor pressings though, as mentioned previously. That's well recommended.

Citizen
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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by Citizen » Sat Apr 27, 2013 2:18 am

Thanks for the differing perspectives - some very good points made. Yes, there are quite a few work arounds, and yes, sometimes dissonance sounds fantastic.

Assuming the DJ wants to do long mixes, that feature some harmonic interplay - then does choosing obscure scales significantly minimise the playability of your tracks in such a context? :?:

Also, am I right in assuming that 95% of most 'conventional' electronic dancefloor music is written in major and minor scales?

SuburbanThug
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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by SuburbanThug » Sat Apr 27, 2013 2:35 am

Someone has done a little study on this. Most conventional dance music is in E minor if I remember correctly. That's pretty limited. Google it and you'll find more information. FFS.

SpeedKing
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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by SpeedKing » Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:33 am

Well, the Hungarian minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor scales are used, there are those one or two pitches that are sharp which don't occur in regular major/minor scales and all their accompanying modes. So honestly, there is no way to say a specific yes or no answer to your question.

The raised 4th or 7th in a D Hungarian minor scale might stick out like a horribly infected sore thumb when mixed with some songs in D minor, but depending on where those raised tones occur, they very well might go fantastically together. It would depend on what underlying chords or notes of the D minor song are sounding while the raised pitches of the Hungarian minor are playing. If you have the G minor chord of the D minor song playing while the G# of the Hungarian minor song is sounding out, then it will of course probably sound very bad, for example.

That's one of those hypothetical music questions that doesn't have an answer other than "if it sounds good, it works".

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Re: Implications of obscure scales in electronic dance music?

Post by Tarekith » Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:54 am

I DJ a lot of downtempo stuff that uses weird keys and scales that don't fit well in western theory. And, well... they stand out a lot of times. Sometimes you get lucky and there's enough of a pitch center that things will mix well. But a lot of the weirder stuff just doesn't blend well tonally with other songs we're used to. Not saying you can't use them, but as mentioned you need to get creative with the transitions to try and limit that as much as possible.

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