Changing keys within a song


bunmiadefisayo
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bunmiadefisayo
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07/31/2006 3:12 pm
How do i do this effectively? How do i transition from one key the other smoothly? The best example i can give (i know most ppl on this site listen to rock) is in Gospel music where they change keys and the change is so smooth and you immediately flow into the new key w/o any problems. I bet there are other examples but a lot of music i listen is gospel, R&B and jazz.
# 1
ChristopherSchlegel
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07/31/2006 3:37 pm
Originally Posted by: bunmiadefisayoHow do i transition from one key the other smoothly?


I did a little post on that over here:
http://www.guitartricks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19844

The main idea is to decide how much you will prepare for the arrival of the key. To completely prepare requires using effective voice leading by means of using chords that approach the new key (i.e. secondary dominants).

So that if you are in C major but you want to go to E major you would look for ways to outline:

C major -> F# minor (or dominant 7) -> B major (or dom 7) -> E major.

Because the function of those chords is to be a ii - V -I pointing to the new key you want to be in. Regarding the voice leading specifically I did a whole thing on that on my music blog:
http://christopherschlegel.thinkertothinker.com/index.php

Hope this helps. Happy playing.
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# 2
ren
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ren
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07/31/2006 3:37 pm
Your options are pretty much as follows:

1) Play in the first key, and then move to the second on the change
2) Play in the first key, use another key to transition between the two, and then on to the second key, usually a chromatic run or dimished bits to bridge the gap.
3) Play in another key that fits the two you're playing against.

Depends on the music, and your ear really. If you know your diatonic harmony you'll be able to tell whether both keys in question below to another key - in which case you can play in the same key in spite of the change.

Also, depending on what the two keys are, modal shapes can imply keys so you might be able to use those.

If you can be specific on what changes we're talking about, I can gear the answer to your specific if that helps....

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# 3
ChristopherSchlegel
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07/31/2006 3:48 pm
Furthermore! :)

You don't need to limit use of secondary doms to changing keys. You can also do it within a key. Adds depth and a richness of sound to a chord progression that makes it sound more integrated.

For example, the old standby of playing in G major and going to E minor. This is just I to vi - or change to relative minor:


|-3-------0-|
|-3-------0-|
|-0-------0-|
|-0-------2-|
|-2-------2-|
|-3-------0-|

But how about we prepare for the arrival of the E minor chord?

|-3--2--2---0-|
|-3--2--0---0-|
|-0--2--2---0-|
|-0--4--1---2-|
|-2--4--2---2-|
|-3--2------0-|

Notice that even though F#minor and B7 are not in the key of G they can be used very nicely to sound as if you are "temporarily in the key of E minor". Just long enough to get to E minor, then you can just keep playing in G major.

Does that little example sound familar?! Sure, it the opening to "Yesterday" by the Beates - and a million other jazz tunes & classical pieces.
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Mark Pav
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07/31/2006 4:28 pm
The circle of fifths is also a common way to make a key change work. You play through chords one fifth away from each other to reach your desired key. Normally you only play through a couple.

For example, say you are in the key of G and you want to get to another key. Well, the fifth of G is D and you could simply play the G and then the D and be in a new key. And off you go in the key of D now. Or you could go a step further: G D A (A is a fifth away from D). Now you've gone from the key of G to A.

Relative minors can make the transitions a bit smoother, too, because they change the sound of things without actually taking you away from your target key. For example, you could go G Em D Bm A or G Bm D F#m A and they work quite well.
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bunmiadefisayo
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bunmiadefisayo
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07/31/2006 4:33 pm
OMG thanks so much guys. You really hit on what i was looking for, esp MarkPav. I noticed when playing in C there came a part of the song that normally called for a key change and i kept on playing in C while the singer had shifted to F!!! It was incredible to me that i could keep on playing in C and still have the singer sing in F. What is the theory behind this and who do i know if a key will "fit" in another?
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ren
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ren
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07/31/2006 4:45 pm
diatonic harmony...

Key of A for Example

A Bm C#m D E F#m G#dim

each key uses the same progression...

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6strngs_2hmbkrs
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07/31/2006 4:57 pm
in the gospel music I play at my church. most songs tend to be setup like so: verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus. usually, if there is a key change it comes in for the last chorus, and is usually from G to A, from D to E, etc.
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bunmiadefisayo
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bunmiadefisayo
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07/31/2006 6:12 pm
Originally Posted by: 6strngs_2hmbkrsin the gospel music I play at my church. most songs tend to be setup like so: verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus. usually, if there is a key change it comes in for the last chorus, and is usually from G to A, from D to E, etc.


Yeah i can get moving one whole step but i wanted to know how i could do it seamlessly so there wouldnt have to be a pause when i want to shift keys. Like for instance you play a I IV V cadence, instead of going back on home key after V, what chord can i use to transition to the new key i want (lets, for argument's sake say i want to move up a whole step).
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ChristopherSchlegel
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08/01/2006 2:38 pm
Originally Posted by: bunmiadefisayo...but i wanted to know how i could do it seamlessly so there wouldnt have to be a pause when i want to shift keys. Like for instance you play a I IV V cadence, instead of going back on home key after V, what chord can i use to transition to the new key i want (lets, for argument's sake say i want to move up a whole step).

Play the V chord of the NEW key you are changing to. Or play the IV-V or the ii-V of the new key. Also, look for chords that contain common tones for better integration (or "smooth sounding" transitions - or "seamless" as you say!). For example:

Key of G major: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#
Key A major: A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#

They share the notes A, B, D, E, F#. So out of those notes you can make a D major chord or a B minor chord (or B minor 7). When you play the D chord it will sound as the V of G major, but the IV of A major.

The next important part is to consider the rhythm or phrasing you use. If the song typically uses one chord per measure of 4/4 and is structured in 4 bar phrases then use THAT format. Don't play against it unless you want to draw attention to the key change. To make it sound "seamless" or "natural" figure out a way to keep that same order.

An actual song or chord progression would help here to use as a concrete example. I will use this as an example:

| G \ \ \ | E min \ \ \ | C \ \ \ | D \ \ \ |

Now if your song does this all the time simply adding an E chord as a extra measure will sound awkward.

| G \ \ \ | E min \ \ \ | C \ \ \ | D \ \ \ | E \ \ \ |

So you might want to consider keeping with the 4 measure phrasing but altering the chords slightly in order to get to key of A major:

| G \ \ \ | E min \ \ \ | C \ \ \ | D \ E \ |

Or just go right to the new V chord:

| G \ \ \ | E min \ \ \ | C \ \ \ | E \ \ \ |

Doesn't sound too bad because the C major and E major share the note E.

I like this type of choice personally:

| G \ \ \ | E min \ \ \ | B min 7 \ \ \ | E7 \ \ \ |

Because the first 3 chord are solidly in key of G and the last 2 are in key of A. So you get a bit of overlapping there. :)

Finally (I know I sound like a broken record here :P) but voice leading is very important and frequently overlooked as a way of making smooth transitions. So here is one way of playing that last example:


|-3-3-3-3-|-3-3-3-3-|-5-5-5-5-|-4-4-4-4-|
|-3-3-3-3-|-5-5-5-5-|-3-3-3-3-|-3-3-3-3-|
|-4-4-4-4-|-4-4-4-4-|-4-4-4-4-|-4-4-4-4-|
|-5-5-5-5-|-5-5-5-5-|-4-4-4-4-|-2-2-2-2-|
|---------|---------|---------|---------|
|---------|---------|---------|---------|
G E min B min 7 E7

Then right into A major chord and key!
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Krunek
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08/03/2006 1:17 pm
I dont know if this will help, but I will still post it. Maybe it will. In our folk songs, there is a dance called chardash (hungarian origin; I think). Modulations abound here. For example, first part of the verse is in C second in G then F... like this.
C,G, C/G/C/D G,D, G/F# F,C... And so forth. Afterwards, it goes to d and so on.
Maybe it will help you out. Dont know. Hope it will.
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08/03/2006 11:51 pm
Originally Posted by: bunmiadefisayoHow do i do this effectively? How do i transition from one key the other smoothly? The best example i can give (i know most ppl on this site listen to rock) is in Gospel music where they change keys and the change is so smooth and you immediately flow into the new key w/o any problems. I bet there are other examples but a lot of music i listen is gospel, R&B and jazz.

I'll elaborate later, but the most common changes are chromatic runs by half step, or relative dominants.
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bunmiadefisayo
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08/05/2006 7:21 pm
Originally Posted by: Jolly McJollysonI'll elaborate later, but the most common changes are chromatic runs by half step, or relative dominants.


Are you still going to elaborate? Thanks.
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RandyEllefson
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08/06/2006 1:28 pm
I did an article on this at http://www.randyellefson.com/guitar/articles/composing/structural_chord_progressions.html that goes into a fair amount of detail. Hope it helps.
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08/06/2006 9:57 pm
Originally Posted by: bunmiadefisayoAre you still going to elaborate? Thanks.

Yeah, my life's been a little hectic for long posts recently, so give me a week or so and I'll throw it down.
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Hamberg
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08/07/2006 1:09 am
Originally Posted by: bunmiadefisayoHow do i do this effectively? How do i transition from one key the other smoothly? The best example i can give (i know most ppl on this site listen to rock) is in Gospel music where they change keys and the change is so smooth and you immediately flow into the new key w/o any problems. I bet there are other examples but a lot of music i listen is gospel, R&B and jazz.


It has alot to do with the arrangment. Aside from modulation and stuff like that. If the arrangment allows it, a key change from C Major to C# Major (or whatever it would be) should sound natural, at least, if not cool.
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RandyEllefson
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08/07/2006 1:56 am
It's very hard to make a key change of all 7 notes sound natural. Something that extreme is usually done to be a bit shocking anyway.
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axemaster911
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08/15/2006 5:26 pm
I assume this means changing your key through out the neck, tricky if the song has alot of notes, and riffs, and chord progressions, and more than one octave, but it bet that sounds cool.
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Jolly McJollyson
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08/24/2006 2:48 pm
Most key changes involve chromatic lines or chords:

A change from Fmaj to Emaj, for example, would go something like this

F-F#-G-G#-A-Bb-B-C-C#-D-Eb-E-E-E
in the melody (though it certainly doesn't have to be a straight shot like that.

And the harmony might be something like, hmm...

Fmajor7 (3rd inversion) : Gminmajor7 (root position) : Gminmaj7 (third inversion)

etc etc etc

Or you could bring in secondary dominants, i.e. V of (in this case) Vii
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axemaster911
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08/25/2006 10:55 am
I have never had much luck with chromatic lines. Except on rare occasions for me playing notes outside the key just dont sound right. I am sure with more study on this subject I would learn techniques on incorporating notes out of key within a tune, but timing, and placement for me is hit, or miss.
I would like to here a tune that incorporates two keys, it certainly would be chromatic, and not an easy thing to properly do, especially with band members who are struggling with one key, let alone two.
If somebody knows a song like that done right post it. I think many could benefit from studing the blending of keys, and which keys blend best together.
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