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Changing the key of a song (within a song)
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klate
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#1
16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
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Changing the key of a song (within a song)

I have a very basic understanding of theory but I understand how to apply it to songwriting and how to create a song, but, this chart has kind of confused me.

http://i.imgur.com/wTpnp.jpg

I understand the information being presented but what is confusing me is the examples of how you can write a song in a certain key and then for the chorus change it up and use a different key. Lets use Amaj as an example, according to this chart I can write a song in Amaj following the progression I - IV - V - V then (here is the part that's confusing me) for the chorus of the song you can change things up by switching the key to one that is to the "left or right" or "below" it on this "circle of fifths".

Is this because the chords you would use in those other progressions fit into your original key, so technically the song is still in the key of Amaj?

---

And my second question is if your verses section are in the key of Amaj and you switch to the key of Dmaj for the chorus (which is next to Amaj in the "circle of fifths") would you keep singing in the key of Amaj, or would you switch your singing, melody etc. to the key of Dmaj?
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16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klate View Post

Is this because the chords you would use in those other progressions fit into your original key, so technically the song is still in the key of Amaj?
Adjacent keys on the circle of fifths share some common chords. These are called Common Chords or Pivot Chords when used for modulating key. The common chords can be used as a way to transition between the two different keys. But when you use other chords in the new key, which do not fit in the first key, you are now operating in the new key. (Using the tonic note of the new key as the ending note, for example, would also emphasize that you are in a different key)

Quote:
Originally Posted by klate View Post
And my second question is if your verses section are in the key of Amaj and you switch to the key of Dmaj for the chorus (which is next to Amaj in the "circle of fifths") would you keep singing in the key of Amaj, or would you switch your singing, melody etc. to the key of Dmaj?
You would most likely change the vocal melody to the new key to avoid dissonance. However, since keys adjacent on the circle of fifths have many notes in common, your melody may still fit without changes, or with only minimal changes.

Take a look at this page for more information & examples of "common chords":
Modulation Basics
klate
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16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
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I think understand, I'll read the link, thanks!
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16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
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I do what you describe in this song. It starts out in D, but in the bridge it goes up to G, then as it comes out of the bridge it heads back into D. The melody transposes up as well.

The key changes up to G at 1'50" and goes back to D at 2'13.

The move up a perfect fourth is very common for a chorus or bridge. You can hear how it 'lifts' the song here.

https://soundcloud.com/sportswriters/dont-fool-me-2011-version

Re what key you sing in, do what feels right. Usually if it's a true modulation, you'll sing in the new key, but sometimes it's just a shift of emphasis. For example, in the song I just posted, the second part of the verse ("Packed your bags while he was sleeping, walked right out the bedroom door") starts on a G but I'm still singing in D and the song is still in G, so it's not a modulation, although the emphasis has shifted over to the G until it resolves back to the D at the end ('It don't fool me').
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17th March 2013
Old 17th March 2013
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OP:

Not sure you're doing yourself any favours by trusting the presentation you linked to.

The author's recommendations as to the emotional quality of chord progressions and key centres are highly suspicious. Oh, forget my innate Englishness, they're total bollocks. (oh, there's my innate Englishness.)

I IV V "sad ballad", really? Try Twist'n'Shout or Guantanamera.
I vi IV V and I vi ii V "creepy"? Really? Try doowop or I Will Always Love You. Or every jazz standard ever written, including the distinctly uncreepy I Got Rhythm.

A minor "melancholy"? Try Rondo a la Turk. C minor "happy"? Try Rachmaninov 2nd. E minor "military"? No, since it's not an ideal key for marching brass. Key associations are really just a traditional hangover from centuries ago, before equal scale temperament was adopted. Guitarists who can only play in open position (and can't afford a capo) may have their views, of course.

Moving one step around the circle of fifths/fourths is a useful idea, sure, but I reckon Hypetrain's link on basic modulation is far more useful, although more academic in tone and not so colourful.

---

Oh, just noticed the point the guy makes at the top about it not being plagiarism if you do it in a different key. You can't copyright a chord progression any more than you can copyright gravity. Regardless of the key. He may have some points to make in a "you can do it too - it's so easy" kind of way, but on this issue and many others, he's an idiot.
#6
19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Impromptu View Post
OP:

Not sure you're doing yourself any favours by trusting the presentation you linked to.

The author's recommendations as to the emotional quality of chord progressions and key centres are highly suspicious. Oh, forget my innate Englishness, they're total bollocks. (oh, there's my innate Englishness.)

I IV V "sad ballad", really? Try Twist'n'Shout or Guantanamera.
I vi IV V and I vi ii V "creepy"? Really? Try doowop or I Will Always Love You. Or every jazz standard ever written, including the distinctly uncreepy I Got Rhythm.

A minor "melancholy"? Try Rondo a la Turk. C minor "happy"? Try Rachmaninov 2nd. E minor "military"? No, since it's not an ideal key for marching brass. Key associations are really just a traditional hangover from centuries ago, before equal scale temperament was adopted. Guitarists who can only play in open position (and can't afford a capo) may have their views, of course.

Moving one step around the circle of fifths/fourths is a useful idea, sure, but I reckon Hypetrain's link on basic modulation is far more useful, although more academic in tone and not so colourful.

---

Oh, just noticed the point the guy makes at the top about it not being plagiarism if you do it in a different key. You can't copyright a chord progression any more than you can copyright gravity. Regardless of the key. He may have some points to make in a "you can do it too - it's so easy" kind of way, but on this issue and many others, he's an idiot.
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