TonalityGUIDE - basic tonal music theory and analysis for undergraduates
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Key and Modulation


introduction major and minor the circle of fifths ways of modulating spotting modulations

Introduction | Example One | Example Two | Example Three

If tonality is about the sense of 'being in a key', modulations must clearly make the listener feel that music is now in a different key. Remember the two criteria for modulation outline on the first page:

  1. there is a perfect cadence in the new key
  2. there are three or more chords that are drawn from the diatonic scale of the new key that you are suggesting

It is easy to get the impression that the main way of spotting modulations is to look for accidentals (sharps and flats that change diatonic notes into chromatic ones). The problem with this is that there are lots of reasons for using accidentals that are nothing to do with changing key. The three examples on the following pages all contain accidentals, but only one of them is a modulation.


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