#1
Can someone enlighten me on borrowing from parallel keys? I think I have a bit of it understood, but not all of it. Like for example, say I'm playing in D major. My chord progression goes as follows -

D major - G major - A major -

Now in order to work my way "back" to the tonic of D, I could play B flat, then C major. But Bb and C are not diatonic to the key of D major. The parallel minor of D major is D minor...and the 6th and 7th chords built off the D natural minor scale are Bb and C respectivley, correct? So would using Bb and C to work back up to D be borrowing from the parallel minor?
Last edited by Axe720 at Jan 24, 2009,
#2
Anyone? I googled some info on this but still couldn't find out the answer.
#3
Yes, technically speaking, that would be the right description of what you're doing. If it sounds right to you, do it! Remember that music theory is meant to explain music, not the other way around.

However, that said:
It's sort of an unconventional way to do it, especially considering that you'll have 5 sequential major chords (G A Bb C D) and the resolution of C Major to D Major is much less powerful than the C#dim > D that would occur naturally.

A more common example of borrowing from the parallel minor key might look like this:

D > G > A > D > G > Gm > D > A

The minor subdominant shows up a lot in everything from classical to country.


The major version of the mediant also makes quite a few appearances in pop music. Consider any song in C where an E major chord shows up.
>>>Quick edit- E major can appear in A minor under different circumstances, which may appear to be C major. It can also be used to resolve to an A minor chord in the key of C major... E is a diatonic chord in A harmonic minor (which takes it from A major) , so when you play it in a song in C major, you're actually borrowing a chord from the parallel major scale of your relative minor scale. Wild, huh?
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Last edited by Rebelw/outaCord at Jan 25, 2009,
#4
Thanks bro, I think I'm getting it.

So if i'm in C, and go to E major before going to A minor, I'm actually using the parallel major scale of the sub-mediant? I didn't think that was borrowing, I thought that was called secondary dominants?

But if I can do that with the sub-mediant pitch, can I do it with other scale degrees as well? Or is it only with the relative minor of the chord I'm in?
#5
So if i'm in C, and go to E major before going to A minor, I'm actually using the parallel major scale of the sub-mediant?


If you're going from E major to A minor, you are almost certainly in A minor, not C major.
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#6
Quote by Archeo Avis
If you're going from E major to A minor, you are almost certainly in A minor, not C major.


I don't know, I've heard songs that were definitley in C major, then would go to E major (or EMm7) before going to A minor. But I don't know if thats borrowing from the parallel key, or a secondary dominant key.
#7
E7 to Am strongly suggests the key of Am. It's going to be hard to get back to C. What song did this?

Regarding borrowing from the parallel minor, which E7 in the key of C is not a part of, I call it "extended pitch axis theory." I can elaborate on what that means, but it's just the name I use to describe what you're doing; it's very common.
#8
Quote by Axe720
Thanks bro, I think I'm getting it.

So if i'm in C, and go to E major before going to A minor, I'm actually using the parallel major scale of the sub-mediant? I didn't think that was borrowing, I thought that was called secondary dominants?

But if I can do that with the sub-mediant pitch, can I do it with other scale degrees as well? Or is it only with the relative minor of the chord I'm in?


Yes it is a secondary dominant. A secondary dominant is "borrowing".

You can do it with any scale degree apart from the tonic since the dominant of the tonic is the dominant and not a secondary dominant borrowed from a different mode/scale.

Taking the idea further you could instead of just using E to A you could go E - A - D - G - C. This would be what is called "riding the cycle of fifths". Because a perfect movement will tonicize a chord this is also a common technique for modulating. You are in one key and with a few perfect movements you arrive in a new key.

A really common progression based on cycle of fifths is I vi ii V I (this is of course entirely diatonic but the root movement is all based on perfect movements. You can of course borrow a major chord for the VI and II if you want but it's not necessary.

By the way a "perfect movement" is simply a movement down a fifth (or up a fourth).

You can also go backwards with what is called the cycle of fourths. C G D A E.
(this type of movement down a fourth (or up a fifth) is called a plagal movement).

Note: they are not cadences because a cadence is something final that finishes or ends a musical passage, section, or entire piece of music.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Jan 25, 2009,
#9
C - E - Am suggests a minor key, but if you were to move to Dm followed by G, it would resolve to C nicely. C - E - Am - F is also a pretty common progression.
#10
Quote by bangoodcharlote
E7 to Am strongly suggests the key of Am. It's going to be hard to get back to C. What song did this?

Regarding borrowing from the parallel minor, which E7 in the key of C is not a part of, I call it "extended pitch axis theory." I can elaborate on what that means, but it's just the name I use to describe what you're doing; it's very common.



I made a song in F minor and had a Eb7-Ab progression in it (well, I did a C7-Fm one afterwards so I guess it doesn't count).
#11
Quote by bangoodcharlote
E7 to Am strongly suggests the key of Am. It's going to be hard to get back to C. What song did this?

Regarding borrowing from the parallel minor, which E7 in the key of C is not a part of, I call it "extended pitch axis theory." I can elaborate on what that means, but it's just the name I use to describe what you're doing; it's very common.
I know pitch axis theory. The idea of using a pitch as an axis to swing around different parallel modes/scales of that pitch.

But I would like to hear about your "extended pitch axis theory". Is it just borrowing from parallel modes/scales? Is there more to it? Is there any actual pitch axis involved?
Si
#12
Quote by Axe720
Can someone enlighten me on borrowing from parallel keys? I think I have a bit of it understood, but not all of it. Like for example, say I'm playing in D major. My chord progression goes as follows -

D major - G major - A major -

Now in order to work my way "back" to the tonic of D, I could play B flat, then C major. But Bb and C are not diatonic to the key of D major. The parallel minor of D major is D minor...and the 6th and 7th chords built off the D natural minor scale are Bb and C respectivley, correct? So would using Bb and C to work back up to D be borrowing from the parallel minor?
Looking at this you are pretty much there. An A major will lead directly back to D since it is the dominant of D.

You could introduce a borrowed chord before the G - maybe a bIII or bVI chord borrowed from the Dm scale.

However it is not uncommon to climb back up to D. You could use A B C# D as your "voice leading" line moving back from A to D. You can harmonize these notes in lot's of different ways - they don't have to be the root of the chord. For the C# you might use F# or even an inverted F# to put C# into the bass if it is the bass that is climbing.

Another common climb is as you suggested to borrow the bVI and bVII from the parallel minor scale. The movement would be A Bb C D (all major chords).

Sometimes it goes the other way too. Starting on the tonic moving down D C Bb A then from the dominant directly back to the tonic D.

Sometimes it uses a chromatic run down from the tonic D Db C B Bb A or up from the dominant A A# B C C# D.

Sometimes it goes up from the tonic to the dominant or vice versa. D E F# G A. Again you could play around with it maybe using a bIII borrowed from the parallel minor or you can experiment with harmonizing in different ways like D C/E F G A.

Another commonly borrowed chord is the minor subdominant the iv chord. Often used in a plagal movement to bridge the IV and I chords giving a nice voice leading. So it would be IV iv I - in C it would be F Fm C. Try it and watch the 3rd of the F move down a semitone twice as it turns into the fifth of the C chord (A to Ab then to G).

This gives a nice effect.

Anyway just some ideas on borrowing. The possibilities are wide open.
Si
#13
Extended pitch axis just means that you borrow chords from parallel scales and use the note around which your key is based as the axis around which you swing to various scales. Pitch axis would be playing C Lydian and the C Ionian and then C Blues over a C chord; extended pitch axis would be playing C F C G C Bb C C. The F and G chords indicate C Ionian, but the Bb indicates C Mixolydian. An example from a song would be Freebird. The progression goes G D Em F C D.

Mind you, that's my term for it. I've never heard a label for this, so I gave it one. If there is a standard name, please let me know.