Take Composing Shortcuts with Mixed In Key Odesi

New $49 software promises to simplify writing melodies, bass lines and chord progressions.
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Mixed In Key has a habit of putting out streamlined and clever software tools that simplify aspects of remixing, DJing and now music composition. Past products have made certain processes almost too easy, making them look as if they were shortcuts for the lazy. However, its original eponymous software Mixed In Key, which analyzed music files for their musical key, introduced "harmonic mixing" to a critical mass of DJs so that now it's standard practice. The Mashup and Flow (now Flow 8 Deck) software made DJing and creating song mash-ups super accessible.

Now the new Mixed in Key product announced today, Odesi (pronounced "odyssey"), aims to streamline the process of composing music (in this case likely to be 4/4 dance music) to the point that some aggrieved finger-pointers may say, "hey, that's cheating!"

Odesi aids users in creating bass lines, melodies and chord progressions. Skeptics could say the software does the work for you, but there's certainly plenty of opportunity for creativity here, too. Its interface looks like a miniature DAW, but it's actually a web browser app that can export audio and MIDI files for you to import into your DAW, and there's also an Audio Units plug-in version of Odesi that works on Mac OS 10.10.

You start by choosing chord progressions from 138 options. The bass line layer will automatically comply with that progression, so you can modify the chords without also editing the bass line. A rhythm bank will change the rhythm of the chords and bass line to also affect the energy and feel of the music with 138 customizable rhythms. Then input melody notes from the computer keyboard or a MIDI controller. You can change the key and scale of the whole composition instantly from menus at any time. When you have something you like, you can quickly export the audio and/or a multi-track MIDI file that you can drag into your DAW for further development.

You'd probably end up changing most of the sounds from your Odesi session, but the new software does have some quite good instrument and especially drum sounds onboard the Audio Units version. You can listen to the lead melody, bass line, piano and keyboard samples here.

Odesi costs $49 and is available now. Mixed in Key is also putting together a 30-video series of track breakdowns that analyze the core components of hit songs in Odesi to see what makes them memorable. Several videos are available now and includes songs such as "One More Time" by Daft Punk and "Lean On" by Major Lazer & DJ Snake.