I am a DJ and the software I dj with just introduced key analyzation (Serato DJ). So now I have the key to every song in my library. Someone invented a way for DJ's to mix music in key without having to memorize classical keys. It's called a Camelot Wheel. (MixedinKey.com)enter image description here

The way it basically works is: mixing songs immediately to the left or right or up produces a good harmonic mix. So, if you're playing a song in Ab minor (1A), it'll sound good with 12A, 2A or 1B.

So, my question is why do certain keys sound harmonically good together?

Why does, say, Ab Minor sound good with either Db Minor or Eb Minor?

P.S.: I am grad student in mathematics so I'd prefer if you can get technical mathematically. Not necessary though.


1 Answer 1


These are the smallest harmonic changes. When you move radially none of the notes in the scales change (A minor has the same set of notes as C major), even though the tonal centre does. The set of notes in the scale stays fixed while the nature of the tonality changes between major and minor. Thus there is a similarity or continuity in the tone of the music under this kind of change. The "left/right" changes are also small changes in key: the two keys differ by only one note, and that note is only changed by a half step; e.g. going from C major to G major only the note f changes to f#. So again, there is a high degree of similarity between the set of notes in these two keys. Note that under this kind of change the major/minor nature of the tonality is held fixed while one of the notes change.

This is the circle of fifths (up to the formal errors noted in the comments to the OP), and memorizing it is, in my opinion, is basically the same as "learning the classical keys".

  • a minor has a G#?
    – Neil Meyer
    Dec 16, 2015 at 19:33
  • @NeilMeyer I'm interpreting minor as natural minor
    – Dave
    Dec 16, 2015 at 19:35
  • @NeilMeyer - a change up or down a fifth seems acceptable, with just one note difference, so I suppose the (sometimes) one note difference between relative major /minor will also be acceptable. It always has been. Sadly, the 'wheel' has no mention of parallels, though...
    – Tim
    Dec 17, 2015 at 10:02

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