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Post new topic 4 Inventive Key Changes in Pop Music
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Author Topic:  4 Inventive Key Changes in Pop Music
Andy Volk


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Boston, MA
Post  Posted 9 May 2019 1:26 pm    
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This whippersnapper is an excellent explainer. I found it quite interesting to see how much craft is behind this pop music. McCartney did this stuff intuitively, which is mind-blowing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ81Sz38Acw
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Mike Neer


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NJ
Post  Posted 9 May 2019 3:43 pm    
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I’m working with Max Reger’s book Modulation. Written over a hundred years ago, it’s really cool and you can’t beat the price ($3.97 Amazon Prime).
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Godfrey Arthur


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The Bronx via the Philippines
Post  Posted 9 May 2019 9:27 pm    
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Although it is fun to dissect known hits for their music theory, I would venture to say that much of it is serendipitous and the original composers mostly unaware of the chains in theory movement, them just being good music scientists and following innate laws of harmony and theory, more so if they've had music training. It would be second nature.

Billy Joel, a classically trained pianist with a pianist father, was a rock organist not unlike Jon Lord before he became the Piano Man playing silly love songs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7s8PHnCTGI
That's Mr. We Didn't Start The Fire on vocals and keys, mind you.


Note copious amounts of effected organ using wahs and other effects from the late 60's early 70's.



BJ with drummer Jon Small with their band Attila

But yeah I like the Bm7 flat 5 in Uptown Girl, giving credence to the modulation in A.

David Bennett is a bright young musicologist.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 10 May 2019 2:53 am    
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It depends whom you're talking about. The beatles created imaginative progressions partly because they didn't know music theory. Other pop writers, like Jimmy Webb,were very well-versed in theory and quite calculated in creating the effects they wanted. Mike Neer tipped me to Webb's excellent book on Songwriting:


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Godfrey Arthur


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The Bronx via the Philippines
Post  Posted 10 May 2019 3:05 am    
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Andy Volk wrote:
It depends whom you're talking about. The beatles created imaginative progressions partly because they didn't know music theory


More than likely George Martin helped with the theory. Note that all of a sudden they went from a cover band touring EU to making hits overnight.

There is also rumors of another having written the songs but so far, investigative efforts like those of Jan Irvin's has not come up with something conclusive.
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Jeff Garden


From:
Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, USA
Post  Posted 10 May 2019 3:43 am    
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Very cool - thanks Andy.

For Beatles "theorists", I found this DVD "Deconstructing the Beatles: Chords and Progressions" to be really interesting.

https://www.amazon.com/Deconstructing-Beatles-Progressions-Scott-Freiman/dp/B07D3DJQQM/ref=sr_1_10?crid=2OR1AMBKN0RWU&keywords=deconstructing+the+beatles+dvd&qid=1557488512&s=movies-tv&sprefix=Deconstructing+the+beatles%2Cmovies-tv%2C189&sr=1-10-catcorr
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Skip Edwards


From:
LA,CA
Post  Posted 10 May 2019 5:24 pm    
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Great topic... I'm a big fan of non-standard modulations.

Which reminds me of a story about a famous producer and a top studio drummer here in LA.
The producer asked for a drum fill at the mod, and the drummer said... ok, I'll do a fill at the modulation.
And the producer replied... It's not a modulation, you idiot...it's a key change.

You can't make this stuff up...
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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post  Posted 10 May 2019 11:03 pm     Kitty
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There's an interesting key change in the Cat Stevens song "Kitty". It's in F# than in the chorus it shifts to a-minor. I find this quite amazing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDPlxeLHazI
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post  Posted 11 May 2019 7:43 am    
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I can't say I've ever parsed these songs, because they're pretty good, but he's a smart whippersnapper to think to do it.
Surely for the most part, whether Wilson or Lennon, they sat down at the piano and found the chords they were looking for. Not so much schooling. Which was great.
Yeah, we don't do that much, those kinds of modulations, any more. Must've been part of the times.

Kind of like bossa nova, and I must say that's a different kind of change too, following traditions, when these tunes broke tradition somewhat.
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Michael Holland


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Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 12 May 2019 5:52 pm    
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"This Diamond Ring" has a brilliant modulation. The intro and verse are in Cm. Then it modulates to F# for the chorus and goes back and forth. It's the brilliant work of the Wrecking Crew, co-writer Al Kooper and producer Snuff Garrett. Mid-sixties pop at its best complete with a six-string bass solo.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 15 May 2019 3:44 pm    
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The only one that doesn’t bang you over the head and say “Hi I’m changing keys now” is God Only Knows. Maybe because God only knows what key that song is actually in to begin with.

The way Lucy In The Sky changes rhythm is more interesting to me than the modulation, and it’s even more blatantly obvious.

But the kid does a good job ‘splainin’ stuff.
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Mel Bergman


From:
Camarillo, California, USA
Post  Posted 16 May 2019 8:15 am    
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Thanks for all this gold everyone. I’ve been working on songs for my bands new album, and this is inspiring. And Brian Wilson having an A#m7(b5) is, well, way beyond my comprehension. But to quote Vanilla Ice, “I don’t know what it is but I like it alot”
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Bob Watson


From:
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
Post  Posted 17 May 2019 1:24 am    
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I've never analyzed it but the Grateful Dead song "Box Of Rain" has a really clever fleeting key change in it. Also, there is a Little Feat song on the "Down On The Farm" album called "Be One Now" that has some very cool modulations in it. If you're not familiar with that album, Sneaky Pete is on a few tunes contributing to the magic of the record! Cool video Andy, thanks for posting this!
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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post  Posted 19 May 2019 6:36 am    
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Not über-invetive but still good:
"You Don't have To say You Love Me" one step up.
"The End Of The world" a half step up.
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post  Posted 20 May 2019 12:01 pm    
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Some more analysis of Brian Wilson's music. Unfortunately, the author of this didn't put his name on it ...


Quote:
Brian seemed to move the tonal center of the songs in an effortless way that defies traditional theory. Case in point “GIRLS ON THE BEACH” which has a verse that starts in Eb with a traditional I/ vi/ ii/ V7 or Eb/ C-7th/ F-7th/ Bb7th, followed by 3 notes from “WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR” for these chords- Eb/ C7th/ F-7th/ then a surprise chord Ab-6th which is the iii of the new key of E maj7th/ C#-7th/ E maj7th/ C#-7th/ A/ F#-7th/ Bb7th. The bridge is the iii to the vi of Eb twice and then a ii-V back to the last verse with a twist. It is Eb/ C-7th/ F-7th/ Bb7/ then up a tritone to E maj7th/ C#7th/ F#-7th/A-6th/ down a 3rd to yet another key-F maj7th/D-7th/ F maj7th/ D-7th/Bbmaj7th/G-7th/ and now a ii-V7(F#-7 B7)out of F and back into E for the tag which is I/ iii/vi/ii or Emaj7th/G#-7th/C#-7th/F#11.

“DON’T WORRY BABY” and “GIRLS ON THE BEACH” are just 2 examples of Brian’s songs that shift keys. It has been a long standing tradition in standards such as “BODY AND SOUL”, “GOD BLESS THE CHILD”, “MORE THAN YOU KNOW” and “WHEN SUNNY GET”S BLUE” for the bridge to move to a different key and then resolve back for the last verse. Brian’s way of doing this can be more complex, sometimes changing keys after the first 4 bars and in “THIS WHOLE WORLD(1970) changing keys again after the next 4 bars and again after the next 2, 4 and which ended up adding to the oddities of Pet Sounds and SMiLE every /3/ Bars.

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