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Discussion in 'Ask Doug Johns' started by joedecenso, May 26, 2011.

  1. joedecenso


    May 9, 2011
    Hey doug, I was wondering if you could give me some advice on modulation. I wrote this one piece and it involves modulation of a half-step twice, I modulate up a half-step first, then, after a few measures, another half-step. My question is this; how do I make the modulation sound more natural or make it sound smoother. I have this one music composition book and it says that there is no need for a connecting cadence for modulation of a half-step or whole-step. I'am not saying that's wrong, but how do you make key changes sound smoother and less abrupt.

  2. buddyro57

    buddyro57 me and PJ (living with the angels now)

    Apr 14, 2006
    Cedar Falls Iowa
    Insert something quick here while we wait for Mr. Johns to reply; unprepared modulations sometimes are the most interesting ones. If you doggedly prepare each modulation with the dominant of the new key, it telegraphs your intent, taking away any surprise of freshness that might otherwise be gained.

    This happens all the time in classical (pervasive in late romantic and impressionist literature), jazz, and pop music. A couple of clear examples to quickly cite:

    (1) Hey There ( jazz standard), the first A section is (typically) in Eb major, the second modified A is in G major (a chromatic third relation between these two keys). If you prepare G major with a D7, its OK and many times done that way, however its fresher if you do not prepare G, you get the sudden appearance of F#s and B naturals, that were MIA in the old key.

    (2) Julia (the Beatles), The verse is in E major, the first chord in the bridge is an abrupt Eb minor (tonally a long way away). The absence of a dominant preparation to that chord makes the change all the more dramatic.

    Thats the funny thing about theory; you need to know all of that content, but worrying about all the right ways and wrong ways can stifle your creativity. I say learn from the masters.
  3. joedecenso


    May 9, 2011
    Thanks for the feedback
  4. Doug Johns

    Doug Johns

    Feb 4, 2011
    Cleveland, OH
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla, Genz Benz, Pigtronix, DR Strings, Dunlop
    Hello Joe, buddyro57 did an excellent job of answering your question!
    Bottom line, use your ears. Trust the feeling you get from the chord movement and go with it!
  5. joedecenso


    May 9, 2011
    Thanks john

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