#1
Well this is something I have always struggled with, is changing keys while playing guitar. Currently I am working on a song and I feel like I've actually changed keys so that it sounds natural and fluent. Problem is I'm not totally sure what I did to make this is fluent. So my question is, how do I change the key of the song without it sounding like poop?

My chord progression for the key change in the song is this:

Dm 7, Gm first inversion, Dm 7, Dm, E sus4

The key goes from Dm to Em. I don't think this sounds too bad but again, the problem is I don't really know why it sounds decent, it just was lucky I guess you can say. Any help please?
#2
it depends on what you are actually playing. do you have a tab of this or anything?
#4
Try cycling through fifths. for example, "All of Me" by Seymour Simons and Gerald Marks goes like this:

C6 Em7 A7 Dm7 E7 Am7 D7 Dm7 G7...

In the key of C, Em is the iii (or V of A), A is the V of Dm, Dm is the ii, E7 is the V of Am, Am is the vi of C (or V of D), Dm is stepping down chromatically from D, and G7 is the V of C.

Just be sure to get the correct major/minor chords. a V chord should always be major, but it doesnt always fit as such.
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#5
It probably sounds good because that type of modulation is fairly common in popular music. A lot of times musicians will raise the key by a semitone or two for the last chorus (for a reason that my theory knowledge is inadequate to explain). Because it's common in Western music, a lot of people like that kind of thing.

EDIT: Also, the post above this one. The circle of fifths is always a good rule of thumb for key changes.
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Last edited by jwd724 at Jun 3, 2011,
#7
Quote by wselfwulf
it depends on what you are actually playing. do you have a tab of this or anything?


This is not something I am trying to learn, this is something I am composing. I want to switch keys in my compositions more fluently and easily. But I don't really know how.

Quote by z4twenny
Or it could just be a borrowed chord


By borrowed you mean a chord that is not in key, but yet is still played? I'm also, as I said before, not actually learning something, I'm looking to write the song. So I'd prefer to switch keys.
#8
If the piece needs a key change, it'll come naturally.
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#9
well what ar eyou playing after the Esus chord
it kinda matters to make it the key of E right now it doesnt resolve there very well
try using perfect cadencce
V7>I
#10
Quote by TK1
Try cycling through fifths. for example, "All of Me" by Seymour Simons and Gerald Marks goes like this:

C6 Em7 A7 Dm7 E7 Am7 D7 Dm7 G7...

In the key of C, Em is the iii (or V of A), A is the V of Dm, Dm is the ii, E7 is the V of Am, Am is the vi of C (or V of D), Dm is stepping down chromatically from D, and G7 is the V of C.

Just be sure to get the correct major/minor chords. a V chord should always be major, but it doesnt always fit as such.


So fifths should help me change keys easier? For example if I wanted to change key out of G minor, moving from lets say a Gm7 to a Dm would be using this sort of technique well? (I don't have my guitar near me to test this =\)

Quote by jwd724
It probably sounds good because that type of modulation is fairly common in popular music. A lot of times musicians will raise the key by a semitone or two for the last chorus (for a reason that my theory knowledge is inadequate to explain). Because it's common in Western music, a lot of people like that kind of thing.

EDIT: Also, the post above this one. The circle of fifths is always a good rule of thumb for key changes.


Ahhh. This kinda makes sense. But I'm not really looking to raise the melody of a certain piece by 1 or 2 semitones. I'm looking more to change key entirely and begin completely different chord progressions.
#11
Going from Dm to Esus4? Let's look at the voice leading.

A ->B
F ->A
D -> E

The A in Esus4 is from the Dm before, hence the 'suspension'. This gives the chords a common note to work with while you start moving toward an E for the tonal center. The most natural resolution in this context would be Dm -> Esus4 -> Em. This releases the suspension and lets Em stand on its own. Sounds OK, an acceptable modulation. Now what the other guys are talking about with the V -> i is the process of tonicization. You need a strong resolution to get your listener to hear the modulation (always remember, hearing is the most important part!) For this purpose, a dominant chord works best as it provides the strongest resolution to a tonic chord. Now, V is by far the most common dominant chord, however you do have other options. You could use a leading tone to go into the new tonic. For the leading tone, try:

Dm -> D# (note) - Em

A ----------> B
F ----------> G
D -> D# -> E

This straight chromatic movement will give you an uplifting feel. However, with what you have already written, I feel there's a better approach. Remember the VI - VII - i progression in minor keys? The VII acts as your dominant chord in this context. Since you're moving up a whole step, let's turn your progression into the VII - i. Move from Dm to D (the VII/i) then up to Em for the resolution to your new tonic.

A -> A -> B
F -> F# -> G
D -> D -> E

Notice the chromatic movement in the middle voice, much like in the leading tone example! You can also leave the Esus4 in before resolving fully to the Em. You might like how it sounds, you might not. In the end, it's your call. Notice that this will disrupt the chromatic movement I pointed out earlier. See what you think. This type of modulation is often used when moving from a major key to its parallel minor. They simply drop the major third down to a minor third. Pretty simple right?


Just a quick final note: remember that resolution sounds more concrete on the downbeats of a measure. If you establish the new tonic on the first beat of a new section, it really helps the listener wrap their head around the modulation. It sounds much more natural. Hope that gave you a few ideas, let us know how it goes.
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Last edited by soviet_ska at Jun 4, 2011,
#12
Quote by Hail
If the piece needs a key change, it'll come naturally.


That's what I would have thought. But any time I feel like I want to change key in a song to give the song a different feel to it for a brief period of time, I never can. That's the problem =(.

Quote by supersac
well what ar eyou playing after the Esus chord
it kinda matters to make it the key of E right now it doesnt resolve there very well
try using perfect cadencce
V7>I


I didn't know really what to play next. I played a small melody afterwards but then I hit a wall as to what to play next.

Quote by soviet_ska
Going from Dm to Esus4? Let's look at the voice leading.

A ->B
F ->A
D -> E

The A in Esus4 is from the Dm before, hence the 'suspension'. This gives the chords a common note to work with while you start moving toward an E for the tonal center. The most natural resolution in this context would be Dm -> Esus4 -> Em. This releases the suspension and lets Em stand on its own. Sounds OK, an acceptable modulation. Now what the other guys are talking about with the V -> i is the process of tonicization. You need a strong resolution to get your listener to hear the modulation (always remember, hearing is the most important part!) For this purpose, a dominant chord works best as it provides the strongest resolution to a tonic chord. Now, V is by far the most common dominant chord, however you do have other options. You could use a leading tone to go into the new tonic. For the leading tone, try:

Dm -> D# (note) - Em

A ----------> B
F ----------> G
D -> D# -> E

This straight chromatic movement will give you an uplifting feel. However, with what you have already written, I feel there's a better approach. Remember the VI - VII - i progression in minor keys? The VII acts as your dominant chord in this context. Since you're moving up a whole step, let's turn your progression into the VII - i. Move from Dm to D (the VII/i) then up to Em for the resolution to your new tonic.

A -> A -> B
F -> F# -> G
D -> D -> E

Notice the chromatic movement in the middle voice, much like in the leading tone example! You can also leave the Esus4 in before resolving fully to the Em. You might like how it sounds, you might not. In the end, it's your call. Notice that this will disrupt the chromatic movement I pointed out earlier. See what you think. This type of modulation is often used when moving from a major key to its parallel minor. They simply drop the major third down to a minor third. Pretty simple right?


Just a quick final note: remember that resolution sounds more concrete on the downbeats of a measure. If you establish the new tonic on the first beat of a new section, it really helps the listener wrap their head around the modulation. It sounds much more natural. Hope that gave you a few ideas, let us know how it goes.


Wow this helped so, so, much! Thank you!

This explains why I feel like I hit that brick wall on what chord I should be moving to next when my key switched to Em. I was never really letting the Em settle itself in as the new tonic center and was attempting to progress to another chord that wasn't centered around E enough. This makes a real lot of sense now.

I understood that a leading tone was always a good idea for switching into a new key, but I felt like since I was switching from a minor key to another minor key, which both don't even have leading tones, there was no way I could really utilize it. But I was looking at it as more of playing 1 chord, then progressing into another chord that sounds decent after that one to move into the new key. The way it's put here, makes it feel like I'm instead using a bridge to connect the two keys instead. I never thought of it this way, this helps the way I view changing keys a lot.

I was switching on a downbeat of the measure (the 1st beat) already, but I never really thought about it as I did it, it just sort of "felt right" I guess you can say. But now that you mention it, it certainly makes a lot of sense too.

I switched using the Dm because I realized it shared one note in common with the Em. I figured sharing notes in common can only help the switch to Em. Is this something I should be attempting as often as I can? Trying to find notes in common when switching keys with chords?

I like the idea of the of using a leading tone as you said, but the song is supposed to have a very depressing feel to it. I don't feel as though the uplift in the switch suits the song well. So I am going to use the Dm -> Esus4 progression still, but instead of using the Em after the Esus4 to as you said, have the switch to Em settle, I want to use a small melody ascending and descending from E. Do you feel this is a good idea to establish the switch to Em and have it stand on it's own? The small melody was then going to be progressed into a Gsus2 add11.

Thank you so much everyone ^-^. This has helped a real real lot.
#13
Learn the circle of fifths and how to use Flats and sharps to change into different keys. Such as if you're in the key of C, you can sharpen F or flatten B and enter the keys of G Major or F major, respectively.

You can also modulate by moving chords or phrases up by an interval. Say you have a progression in C major, you can change the key to C# Major by moving the progression up a halfstep. Or, you could resolve on C major, slide up a halfstep, and do a different progression in C# Major.

Theres a helluvalot of ways to change keys, and those are only two. My user title is probably a lie, but I thought of it and it was too good to pass up and forget.
#14
Quote by TK1
Try cycling through fifths. for example, "All of Me" by Seymour Simons and Gerald Marks goes like this:

C6 Em7 A7 Dm7 E7 Am7 D7 Dm7 G7...

In the key of C, Em is the iii (or V of A), A is the V of Dm, Dm is the ii, E7 is the V of Am, Am is the vi of C (or V of D), Dm is stepping down chromatically from D, and G7 is the V of C.

Just be sure to get the correct major/minor chords. a V chord should always be major, but it doesnt always fit as such.

I'd hate to be "that guy," but I'm pretty sure All of Me starts with C6 E7 A7, not C6 Em7 A7. Also, your use of the word "fifths" seems a bit confusing, as the examples you're giving would actually be better described as fourths - as in, you're moving in fourths. Sure, you're moving a fourth from the fifth of the target chord to that chord, but the movement itself is a fourth, so it's probably better to say "move to the fourth of the chord you're on" or "move in fourths."
Last edited by Glen'sHeroicAct at Jun 4, 2011,
#15
I didn't read the OP but think:
- Circle of fifths
- Cadences
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#16
Quote by Dragonblood21
Well this is something I have always struggled with, is changing keys while playing guitar. Currently I am working on a song and I feel like I've actually changed keys so that it sounds natural and fluent. Problem is I'm not totally sure what I did to make this is fluent. So my question is, how do I change the key of the song without it sounding like poop?

My chord progression for the key change in the song is this:

Dm 7, Gm first inversion, Dm 7, Dm, E sus4

The key goes from Dm to Em. I don't think this sounds too bad but again, the problem is I don't really know why it sounds decent, it just was lucky I guess you can say. Any help please?


You just moved up by step, its a close modulation.

Sean
#17
Quote by Dragonblood21
I switched using the Dm because I realized it shared one note in common with the Em. I figured sharing notes in common can only help the switch to Em. Is this something I should be attempting as often as I can? Trying to find notes in common when switching keys with chords?


Yes! You've got it. Seriously, realizing this will make modulations a lot easier. Like we've mentioned, a dominant relationship is the strongest and most accepted way of changing keys, but if you can connect the two keys with common notes, you can modulate to anything. Just play it by ear. If you don't learn anything else from this thread, remember this common note idea.

Quote by Dragonblood21

So I am going to use the Dm -> Esus4 progression still, but instead of using the Em after the Esus4 to as you said, have the switch to Em settle, I want to use a small melody ascending and descending from E. Do you feel this is a good idea to establish the switch to Em and have it stand on it's own? The small melody was then going to be progressed into a Gsus2 add11.


Well consider that if you're playing a melody from E up and back down to E, you're likely going to be outlining an Em chord in some way. If you make sure the G and the B are in there somewhere, it'll probably sound fine. As for the Gsusadd11, you could also consider this a D7sus4/G, which would naturally lead back to an Em7, which is exactly what you want: a nice strong resolution to get that Em pumped into the back of your listener's mind.

C -> D
A -> B
D -> E
G -> G

Again, whatever you want to do. I think you've got the concept of modulating down, though. Try writing a few modulating exercises. Just four/eight bars of one key and challenge yourself to find a way to change to several different keys.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#20
Worth looking into different types of modulation;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modulation_%28music%29

In future, look at the chords and see if any other key(s) share the same chords and it gives you options to move to them in different ways.

Also once you've sank you're teeth into that you could look into

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secondary_dominant
#22
That progression doesn't modulate. The Esus sounds out of place, if anything it sounds like a forced modulation to A minor if you resolve the suspension.