Many DJs use vocals from one song on an instrumental track from another song. What are the criteria that have to be met for this to sound good?

Should both tracks be in the same key? Same chord progression? Or something else?

  • 1
    Why not let your ear be your guide? (If your ear isn't very good, your audience will let you know about it soon enough...)
    – Stinkfoot
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 23:12

4 Answers 4


The same key will help make things easy, and having the same chord progression will simplify things even more, however as there are no hard and fast rules in music, you can do whatever you like. I have heard this done with songs that don't match rhythm, key or chords - and in some cases that works.


Given that modern technology allows tempo changes without key changes, and key changes without tempo changes, it would make sense that both tracks are in one key, and at the same tempo, to fit well. Can't imagine people trying to dance to two tempos (that's what DJs are there for, isn't it?), and listening to two different keys simultaneously ought to cause headaches (isn't that what...) So, I feel that the chord structure would need to be the same. There are many songs out there that fit the criterion - there seem to be a lot with a a four bar sequence, vi, IV, I, V at the moment, so they'd do.


The main criterion is that individual notes or groups of notes don't clash. The beats, the keys and the chords might sync up just fine, but all it takes is one mismatched pair of notes and your could have a stinker on your hands. Whether you do it intellectually, by ear or through trial and error, you just have to sort out the bad from the bold.


Same tempo (or tempos in simple proportion, if you want to get clever) is a good idea. The nearer the vocals are to 'rapping', the less it matters if the chords match! When there IS a discernable melody, they need to line up.

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