Author Topic: Modulation  (Read 2420 times)

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« on: May 10, 2012, 11:42:18 AM »
I could use some suggestions on the move from from E major/e minor to Gb major.  ???



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Re: Modulation
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2012, 12:08:40 PM »
Enharmonicaly it's only a whole step (E -> F#).  So maybe that will make it easier?  I'd say there are several ways to get there.  Better would be to post some of your trials and we could comment. 
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Re: Modulation
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2012, 07:15:55 PM »
I agree it would help to have something more specific about how/where/why such modulation is taking place. Being me I'd probably just stick a Ddim chord in there somewhere...


But of course that's just a harmonic skeleton and those notes most likely wouldn't actually be played, at least not like that.


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Re: Modulation
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2012, 03:32:28 AM »
A wise person once told me "if you want to go somewhere, go there."

That said, in certain styles a cadence only feels right if it is preceded by a certain amount of circumlocution.

I think an important question, then, is why you want to go there. What structural functions do these keys have in the piece as a whole? Are they temporary stopping places or major destinations, or even home bases (yes, you can have more than one)? Do they have different functions? Is there a voice leading skeleton to the piece's tonal structure that this modulation fits into? Is this modulation a large scale neighbor movement, a sequence, or some other kind of surface gesture? Once you can answer these questions, you can begin to think about how to modulate so that your music reflects that structure.

 For instance, a temporary tonal stopping place may not need an unambiguous cadence, but can be simply implied by some suggestive chromatic chords, while an important structural key area may warrant a stronger, more diatonic language. Dual functioning chords can be used to suggest a larger scale structural tonality even as the music moves through different surface keys. Emphasizing important scale degrees of the larger tonal context can allow the melody or the skeleton of the melody to contradict or reaffirm the tonality suggested by the harmony.

I think it can also be helpful to think about whether you want your tonal areas to be static regions like in a rock song: here is key A for a section, now here is key B for a different section. Or you might want to think of tonal areas rather as journeys from one place to the next, with strong cadences as structural events rather than everyday occurrences.

How and why to modulate is one of the biggest questions to tackle in composition, so I hope this gives you some helpful food for thought in approaching it. I suppose I could suggest some of the common chords I would gravitate to, but I think really there is no right or wrong way from point A to point B. All I can say is follow your ear and study lots of great composers to build a toolbox of different modulation strategies. Some of my favorite modulations are the modulation to the second tonal area in the second movement of Beethoven 5, the return to F at the beginning of the last big section of the Adagietto from Mahler 5, and the "unwinding of the spring" rapid modulation around the circle of fifths at the climax of the Kyrie from Mozart's Requiem.