Ever since a key clash unknowingly escaped me in one of my previous mashups, I’ve been using the Camelot wheel (along with a “pitch check” file I made in FL Studio) to test the compatibility of songs I want to mash up. I also use it to analyze other mashups and figure out how they avoid these clashes.
This morning while I was on my way to a work location, DJ Schmolli‘s latest mashup, “Roar Down“, came to mind; it’s a blend of Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ “Face Down“. After thinking about it for a few seconds, I made an educated guess: since Katy’s vocals stay in a major key, “Face Down”‘s chord progressions likely move around the key of Katy’s song, thereby avoiding note clashes.
When I got home this evening, I opened the Camelot wheel page and FL Studio and checked my hypothesis. Sure enough, it was correct. Now, if you haven’t taken a look at the Camelot wheel link above or you don’t know about it, I strongly suggest that you do so before reading on.
How does Schmolli’s mashup avoid key clashes? Simple: all of “Face Down”‘s chords are correctly positioned on the Camelot wheel in order to avoid conflicting with the vocals in “Roar”. With any given note on the wheel, the next note immediately to the left or right of it in the same ring is compatible, as is the note in front of or behind it in the other ring.
Now, let’s see how this relates to “Roar Down”.
Katy Perry’s vocals are in B-flat major (6B on the wheel). The first key in “Face Down”‘s progression is G minor (6A on the wheel, which is compatible with Katy’s B-flat since it is immediately ahead of 6B in the other ring). The second key is E-flat major (5B on the wheel, which is compatible since it is to the right of 6B in the same ring), the third key is B-flat (the same as Katy’s vocals), with the last one being F major (7B on the wheel, which is compatible since it is to the left of 6B in the same ring).
As a choir singer, I have a bit of idea about harmonizing, but some things still escape me. Thanks to joining Mashstix and doing a bit of research on chords and harmonic mixing, I have enough tools to green-light and reject potential mashups.
It’s not a complete set of tools, but I think it’s a darn good start.