#1
I've noticed that some songs contain both a both and major triad and minor triad based on the same root note. For example, in "Creep" by Radiohead, the chord progression goes like this:

I - iii - IV - iv

I play it as Cmaj, Emin, Fmaj, Fmin.

Another example is Tranquilize, by the Killers. Tranquilize is (I think) in the key of C#minor and contains both G# and G#min.

What's the theory behind this? I spent the last hour or so reading through the music theory faq, (and learned a lot! thanks!) but I didn't come across an explanation for why stuff like this sounds good. What's the theory behind these chord progressions?
#2
I'm pretty sure it's a modulation. The F maj is obviously in the key of C maj, but the song modulates to the F min for that part.

Correct me if I'm wrong.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#3
It's not a modulation - it's called modal interchange.


The A - Ab movement in F - Fm leads chromatically down to the G - the 5 of the tonic chord C.
#4
The iv chord could be seen as a borrowed chord from the parallel minor. I have also heard the IV-iv-I movement be called an extended plagal cadence, but I can't speak with complete confidence or detail about that. Finally, maybe those the writers of those progressions simply thought the sound of a major and a minor chord after one another on the same tonic sounded neat, and didn't worry about a theoretical explanation for it. Music is an art, after all
Last edited by the white baron at Aug 6, 2009,
#5
ok, so would modal interchange explain the tranquilize song? The progression in the prechorus of tranquilize goes like this:

C#m - G#m - Emaj - F#m - C#m - G#m - Emaj - F#m - G#

This is followed by the chorus:

E - B - C#m - A - E - B - C#m - G# - A - B - C#m - B - A

?
#6
Well there ya go. I'll just call it a modulation for me anyway because that's what I call a chord that doesn't fit in the key
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#7
I would definitely not call it Modal Interchange, as it's not going in and out between modes, that's for sure.

And it's not a modulation because it's not changing keys.

In the Killers song, given that it is in C# minor, the G#M is used to give it a better resolution to the tonic. For the Pre-Chorus, the B# in the G#M chord has only a half-step movement upwards to get to the tonic, the C#. The act of raising the 7th degree in minor keys to make the v a V is very common as the V7 - i/I movement offers a very strong resolution.

The chorus i'm not sure... Maybe it changes keys to Em, but instead of CMaj it has the C#m from EMaj? Maybe a borrowed chord... I'm not sure on that one though.

In "Creep", i'm going to assume that after the Fm chord it goes back to CMaj. Again, just a half-step movement from the A-Ab-G, which, as stated, the G is the fifth of the CMaj chord. This particular instance you could say it was borrowed from the parallel minor since the iv in the key of Cm is Fm.
Last edited by DiminishedFifth at Aug 7, 2009,
#8
Quote by AlanHB
Well there ya go. I'll just call it a modulation for me anyway because that's what I call a chord that doesn't fit in the key

Well, modulation refers to the whole basis of the chord progression shifting, whereas modal interchange is usually just nicking a chord from another mode in order to use one note that's in it for an effect (like that chromatic movement).

Let me explain modal interchange:


So you're playing something in C major:

C - Am - Dm - G7 - C



If you wanted to modulate to D major for a bit, you could use a secondary dominant:

C - Am - A7 - D - Em - A7 - D


This turns a minor chord in the first key, into a dominant 7th chord - the V chord in the second key. Here, A7 is the secondary dominant - the dom7 chord that we stick in as a transitory chord to move to the key of D major.


Now let's look at what chords are formed by the various modes starting on C:


C Ionian (C Dm Em F G Am Bdim) major

C Dorian (Cm Dm Eb F Gm Adim Bb)

C Phrygian (Cm Db Eb Fm Gdim Ab Bbm)

C Lydian (C D Em F#dim G Am Bm)

C Mixolydian (C Dm Edim F Gm Am Bb)

C Aeolian (Cm Ddim Eb Fm Gm Ab Bb ) natural minor

C Locrian (Cdim D Ebm Fm Gb Ab Bbm)



Modal interchange would be to take, say, the Fm chord from C Aeolian and Phrygian and stick them in for some chromatic downward movement:

C - F - Fm - C


That's CEG - FAC - FAbC - CEG


Or, we could swap the G7 out for a Gm from C Mixolydian:

C - Gm - C


Try playing A - Em - A - Em and see if you think of a Pink Floyd song ...
#9
Quote by blue_strat
Fm chord from C Aeolian and Phrygian and stick them in for some chromatic downward movement:

C - F - Fm - C


That's CEG - FAC - FAbC - CEG


This is just borrowing from the parallel minor.

Quote by blue_strat
Or, we could swap the G7 out for a Gm from C Mixolydian:

C - Gm - C



Again, just borrowing from the parallel minor. Nothing out of the ordinary. No need to confuse people with terms like Modal Interchange.
#10
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Again, just borrowing from the parallel minor. Nothing out of the ordinary. No need to confuse people with terms like Modal Interchange.

That's what modal interchange is - borrowing from other modes based on the tonic note.

The parallel minor is Cm, which is C Aeolian.
#11
i agree with DiminishedFifth. I'd only call something like that modal interchange if it borrowed chords from something other than the natural minor.
#12
Quote by blue_strat
That's what modal interchange is - borrowing from other modes based on the tonic note.

The parallel minor is Cm, which is C Aeolian.

Yes, but Modal Interchange implies that you would treat it as a modal preogression, which most things we'll come across will not be.
#13
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Yes, but Modal Interchange implies that you would treat it as a modal preogression, which most things we'll come across will not be.

So how do you treat an Ionian progression differently to a major progression?
#14
Quote by blue_strat
So how do you treat an Ionian progression differently to a major progression?

Ionian is modal, and major is tonal.

Most modal progressions are simple, two/three chord vamps (C - G7) with a melody over the top (though since Ionian is very stable, it can probably get complicated). Still, no accidentals are to be used, or else you ruin the modal aspect of the Ionian Mode.

Major, however, is tonal, and implies that the progression can be as complicated as it needs to be, as long as it resolves back to CMaj. As many accidentals can be used as needed to get the desired sound.
#15
I would not look at this as modal in any way. The only two "modes" these chords are coming from are Ionian and Aeolian, which we look at as our natural major and minor scales, which are tonal, not modal.

TS, a major and minor chord with the same tonic pitch are called Parallel major and minor chords. For example, A minor (A-C-E) is the Paralell minor of A major (A-C#-E). This is not to be confused with relative major and minor, which are major and minor keys with the same key signature.

Its common to "borrow" chords like this; The iv chord, while playing in a major key, especially. The triads formed from a C major scale are -

Cmaj - Dmin - Emin - Fmaj - Gmaj - Amin - Bdim

And the triads formed from a C minor (C majors parallel minor) scale, are -

Cmin - Ddim - Ebmaj - Fmin - Gmin - Abmaj - Bbmaj

So you can see you're just borrowing that chord. Its very common to borrow a iv chord while playing in a major key. You really wouldn't even have to technically look at every non-diatonic chord like that as being "borrowed" from a certain scale if you're just changing it from major to minor (or vice versa), because when changing from a major chord to its parallel minor (or vice versa) you only change one note.

And you can borrow any chord you want, also. Doesn't have to be from any sort of scale in relation to your tonic. Borrowing a iv chord is just common because it often compliments the melody line of that song.

Very good question, TS. Borrowing chords can really keep music spontaneous and interesting.
Last edited by Axe720 at Aug 7, 2009,
#16
So bar the confusion over modes, can we just assume it's as simple as it appears - that it's a "borrowed" chord?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#17
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Yes, but Modal Interchange implies that you would treat it as a modal preogression, which most things we'll come across will not be.
Not really true. The entire point of modal interchange is the use of modal tonalities in tonal settings.

As for TS, a minor subdominant(or iv) in a major key is just one of those accepted resolutions that work. IV - iv - I is essentially based on the chromatic movement of the third in the first chord to the fifth of the last one.
Last edited by grampastumpy at Aug 7, 2009,
#18
Quote by grampastumpy
Not really true. The entire point of modal interchange is the use of modal tonalities in tonal settings.

As for TS, a minor subdominant(or iv) in a major key is just one of those accepted resolutions that work. IV - iv - I is essentially based on the chromatic movement of the third in the first chord to the fifth of the last one.

this.

I'm tickled at how involved some of you are getting into a very simple issue. Call it what you want, but it's simple voice leading. It's the same thing with a I-III-IV progression, where you make the three chord major instead of minor. Slapping a label on it and calling it modal interchange isn't going to explain why it works as well as it does. Feel free to continue, however; you're certainly entitled to.
#19
Quote by Glen'sHeroicAct
this.

I'm tickled at how involved some of you are getting into a very simple issue. Call it what you want, but it's simple voice leading. It's the same thing with a I-III-IV progression, where you make the three chord major instead of minor. Slapping a label on it and calling it modal interchange isn't going to explain why it works as well as it does. Feel free to continue, however; you're certainly entitled to.
While I agree with your point, I'd argue that a III(or III7) chord is a borrowed chord from the relative minor in most cases.

On that note, TS, I just realized that for Creep, the second chord is in fact an E major.
#20
Quote by grampastumpy
On that note, TS, I just realized that for Creep, the second chord is in fact an E major.

That it is (in C). I play it in G.

G Gsus4 G - B Bsus4 B - C Csus4 C - Cm Csus4 Cm (repeat forever)

At least, that's how I play it.

It's a great example of the IV iv I extended plagal cadence.

The progression builds beautifully to that C and then that Cm prolongs the tension but offers a tiny bit of release with a subtle hint as the lonely third seems to be unable to wait to get back to the tonic chord. By dropping to a minor third it's almost as if it's sneaking a little head start toward it's tonic destination.

Yet with the rest of the chord holding the tension in the root and fifth of the iv chord you can really hear a conflict as they hold the third back. They can only hold out so long though. The return to the G feels inevitable and provides such a stable and solid sense of home it shows how he IV iv I can provide a very strong tonicizing function.

It really feels like we wind up and then unfold with each phrase. Then the way the song is orchestrated with the distorted guitar coming in and out and Yorke's voice so beautifully singing it provides the contrast we need to make such a repetitive chord progression sound interesting. It's a masterful song. Kind of defined the Emo attitude to a certain extent "I'm a creep, I'm a wierdo, I don't belong here" but if you forget about that it's a beautiful love song.

If you can play that song and sing it well the girls will swoon, that's a guarantee.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Aug 7, 2009,