Any rules (or tips) regarding key changes in classical music?

ed buller

Senior Member
What is classical music?

the vast majority of music/theory discussed in this thread have very little resemblance to classical music.

Short answer: Circle of Fifths - that's what drove modulation as well as how to approach modulation in classical music. I suppose you could argue essential chromaticism also influenced the chord changes to approach a key change - but typically speaking, circle of fifths.

yes for "Classical Music" the circle of fifths is the key. But film music is very very different. Most film music uses a lot of late 19th Century and Early Twentieth century techniques . The easiest way to think of the change is that you are no longer operating Under the hierarchy of a key . Chords change by different means. Quite often it's the voices themselves that dictate the changes and not the expected harmonic movement. This is Known as parsimonious voice leading . A very simple and efficient exercise is sitting at a keyboard and seeing how many triads ( maj or min ) you can play in succession by moving a finger ( or more ) only a semitone . So much of Holly wood music is made up of These progressions, Some even have names after the composers that over use them . James Newton Howard has a fav . A min chor followed by A maj a semitone below. Here the third in the Min stays on the same note and becomes a third in the Maj. Fm to EMaj for instance. This chord progression lives outside of the world of Key's and Functional Harmony that dominated music until the late 19th Century. There are Now thank goodness lot's of books on the subject:




These are free !...though you could always give him something by Paypal

e
 

ProfoundSilence

Senior Member
yes for "Classical Music" the circle of fifths is the key. But film music is very very different. Most film music uses a lot of late 19th Century and Early Twentieth century techniques . The easiest way to think of the change is that you are no longer operating Under the hierarchy of a key . Chords change by different means. Quite often it's the voices themselves that dictate the changes and not the expected harmonic movement. This is Known as parsimonious voice leading . A very simple and efficient exercise is sitting at a keyboard and seeing how many triads ( maj or min ) you can play in succession by moving a finger ( or more ) only a semitone . So much of Holly wood music is made up of These progressions, Some even have names after the composers that over use them . James Newton Howard has a fav . A min chor followed by A maj a semitone below. Here the third in the Min stays on the same note and becomes a third in the Maj. Fm to EMaj for instance. This chord progression lives outside of the world of Key's and Functional Harmony that dominated music until the late 19th Century. There are Now thank goodness lot's of books on the subject:




These are free !...though you could always give him something by Paypal

e

I keep reading the title "in classical music" and people are giving advice for everything except classical music. In the op they said they were a theory hack, so I cant help but feel like the extra stuff suggested means they either asked the wrong question or people are giving then answers to a question they didnt ask.

If they are trying to emulate baroque/classical harpsichord writing and they start planing parallel major chords in 1st inversion because that's what john Williams does they might be trying to figure out why it doesn't sound classical LOL
 

ed buller

Senior Member
I keep reading the title "in classical music" and people are giving advice for everything except classical music. In the op they said they were a theory hack, so I cant help but feel like the extra stuff suggested means they either asked the wrong question or people are giving then answers to a question they didnt ask.

If they are trying to emulate baroque/classical harpsichord writing and they start planing parallel major chords in 1st inversion because that's what john Williams does they might be trying to figure out why it doesn't sound classical LOL
I'm guessing because they posted on this forum that they mean Film Music...but it's a guess and If i'm wrong that's 20 mins of my life i wont get back. But your ire is noted

best

e
 

sinkd

Senior Member
Unfortunately, I haven’t read through the other comments so please forgive me if I am repeating anyone. I see people arguing all the time here and online if studying theory will hinder creativity, but this is literally Music Theory 2 concerning the topic of modulation.

Talking about modulating between 2 keys all you need to do is find a common chord between the 2. (For example, going from the key of C Major to D Major where the common chord is A Major which is a V/V in C and a V in D. Play this progression: C, G, A, D.)
Rodney's example is good, but an A Major triad is V/ii (which means V "of" ii, or the (temporary) Dominant "of" d minor in C Major (not V/V). G is the common diatonic chord. (same quality in both key/scales: it works in both C Major and D). I think he was thinking in C and G simultaneously :)

Another way to think about modulation is through melody. Say you are composing a melody in A minor. What happens when you throw in a D-sharp at some point? Or a B-flat or F-#? Where do you hear it "pointing" or pulling--does that changed note re-orient your melody briefly? or does it change things going forward... Do you hear a new final or landing note for the melody after making the "tweak"? What does it sound like when you put things back (in A minor)? Was it a pleasing round trip for your melody? Do the altered notes suggest different chords than you would have had staying in the key? etc.
 

Romy Schmidt

New Member
So I'm a sad hack still learning music theory. I can create a chord progression within one key which works... but it's boring. What is a good way to go about changing keys (and knowing which key to change to)?
You can spice up your score with secondary dominants. No need to modulate, yet.

Guitar - Youtube
General - Youtube
 

Rodney Money

On V.I. avoiding work.
Rodney's example is good, but an A Major triad is V/ii (which means V "of" ii, or the (temporary) Dominant "of" d minor in C Major (not V/V). G is the common diatonic chord. (same quality in both key/scales: it works in both C Major and D). I think he was thinking in C and G simultaneously :)

Another way to think about modulation is through melody. Say you are composing a melody in A minor. What happens when you throw in a D-sharp at some point? Or a B-flat or F-#? Where do you hear it "pointing" or pulling--does that changed note re-orient your melody briefly? or does it change things going forward... Do you hear a new final or landing note for the melody after making the "tweak"? What does it sound like when you put things back (in A minor)? Was it a pleasing round trip for your melody? Do the altered notes suggest different chords than you would have had staying in the key? etc.
Yep, I was having a brain fart! Thank ya.
 

Yogevs

Active Member
yes for "Classical Music" the circle of fifths is the key. But film music is very very different. Most film music uses a lot of late 19th Century and Early Twentieth century techniques . The easiest way to think of the change is that you are no longer operating Under the hierarchy of a key . Chords change by different means. Quite often it's the voices themselves that dictate the changes and not the expected harmonic movement. This is Known as parsimonious voice leading . A very simple and efficient exercise is sitting at a keyboard and seeing how many triads ( maj or min ) you can play in succession by moving a finger ( or more ) only a semitone . So much of Holly wood music is made up of These progressions, Some even have names after the composers that over use them . James Newton Howard has a fav . A min chor followed by A maj a semitone below. Here the third in the Min stays on the same note and becomes a third in the Maj. Fm to EMaj for instance. This chord progression lives outside of the world of Key's and Functional Harmony that dominated music until the late 19th Century. There are Now thank goodness lot's of books on the subject:




These are free !...though you could always give him something by Paypal

e
Thanks for the link - I didn't know these!