SUMMARY / RELATED TOPICS

Modulation (music)

In music, modulation is the change from one tonality to another. This may not be accompanied by a change in key signature. Modulations create the structure or form of many pieces, as well as add interest. Treatment of a chord as the tonic for less than a phrase is considered tonicization. Modulation is the essential part of the art. Without it there is little music, for a piece derives its true beauty not from the large number of fixed modes which it embraces but rather from the subtle fabric of its modulation. Harmonic: quasi-tonic, modulating dominant, pivot chord Melodic: recognizable segment of the scale of the quasi-tonic or strategically placed leading-tone Metric & rhythmic: quasi-tonic and modulating dominant on metrically accented beats, prominent pivot chordThe quasi-tonic is the tonic of the new key established by the modulation; the modulating dominant is the dominant of the quasi-tonic. The pivot chord is a predominant to the modulating dominant and a chord common to both the keys of the tonic and the quasi-tonic.

For example, in a modulation to the dominant, ii/V–V/V–V could be a pivot chord, modulating dominant, quasi-tonic. Common-chord modulation moves from the original key to the destination key by way of a chord both keys share: "Most modulations are made smoother by using one or more chords that are common to both keys." For example, G major and D major have four triad chords in common: G major, B minor, D major and E minor. This can be determined by a chart similar to the one below, which compares triad qualities; the I chord in G major—a G major chord—is the IV chord in D major, so I in G major and IV in D major are aligned on the chart. Any chord with the same root note and chord quality can be used as the pivot chord. However, chords that are not found in the style of the piece are not to be chosen as the pivot chord; the most common pivot chords are the predominant chords in the new key. In analysis of a piece that uses this style of modulation, the common chord is labeled with its function in both the original and the destination keys, as it can be heard either way.

Where an altered chord is used as a pivot chord in either the old or new key, this would be referred to as altered common chord modulation, in order to distinguish the chromaticism that would be introduced from the otherwise, diatonic method. An enharmonic modulation takes place when one treats a chord as if it were spelled enharmonically as a functional chord in the destination key, proceeds in the destination key. There are two main types of enharmonic modulations: dominant seventh/augmented sixth, diminished seventh. Any dominant seventh or German sixth can be reinterpreted as the other by respelling the m7 or A6 chord tone in order to modulate to a key a half-step away. A diminished seventh chord meanwhile, can be respelled in multiple other ways to form a diminished seventh chord in a key a minor third, tritone or major sixth away. Where the dominant seventh is found in all diatonic scales, the diminished seventh is found only in the harmonic scale naturally. By combining the diminished seventh with a dominant seventh and/or augmented sixth, altering only one pivot note, it is possible to modulate quite smoothly from any key to any other in at most three chords, no matter how distant the starting and ending keys.

The following are examples used to describe this in chord progressions starting from the key of D minor: C♯–E–G–B♭, C–E–G–B♭, F–A–C takes us to F major—a relative major modulation. C♯–E–G–B♭, A–C♯–E–G, D–F♯–A takes us to the key of D major—a parallel modulation. Enharmonically: C♯–E–G–B♭, A–C♯–E–F, C♯–E–G♯ modulates to C♯ minor—a major seventh modulation/half-step descending. C♯–E–G–B♭, C♯–E♭–G–B♭ ≡ E♭–G–B♭–D♭, A♭–C–E♭ leads to A♭ major—a minor third and relative modulation. Note that in standard voice leading practice, any type of augmented sixth chord favours a resolution to the dominant chord, with the exception of the German sixth, where it is difficult to avoid incurring parallel fifths. In short, lowering any note of

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