Palette Surfing 4

Key Changes (Modulation)

Visit the Palette tab and make sure the sidebar with the Circle Of Fifths is shown. The major keys are on the outside, and their parallel minor keys are on the inside.

Now select the key of C major and switch to a layout Layout > Preset > Default to see the names of relevant chords.

The circle of fifths window always shows you in which keys the chord currently being played has a particular function. These keys are highlighted in darker colors and are also labeled with the function.

Now play the chord Gm. You obtain the picture at the right. According to this picture, the chord is

  1. the dominant of C minor,

  2. the tonic of G minor,

  3. the sub-dominant of D minor and D major, and

  4. the dominant of C major.

This information is extremely useful when you want to change the key. Let's assume that so far you have played the following chords:

 C Gm ... ?

and now you would like to change to the key of D Minor. Now our chord in the palette appears at another position, namely, the sub-dominant.

You may remember the cadence that will confirm the new key: Play the authentic cadence V – I, preferably with a seventh chord (A7 and Dm). You can clearly hear that you have arrived in D Minor.

The progression is thus as follows:

 C Gm A7 Dm

For fun, you can now do the same thing again and pretend that the last chord Dm is not the tonic, but rather in turn the sub-dominant of another key in order to jump into the next key with an authentic cadence according to the formula S – D – T. The circle of fifths tells you that Dm is the sub-dominant of A major and A minor. If you decide on major, click on A Major and continue with the cadence V – I.

Meanwhile, the complete progression looks like this:

 C Gm A7 Dm E A

Once again? The same formula. This time we go to E Minor via B7 - Em. The result:

 C Gm A7 Dm E A B7 Em

You have now changed the key three times with only eight chords in total. If you like, you can continue with the same formula until you finally come to C Major again.

Tip: There is an example progression Circular Modulation composed according to this formula. You can open it with the Progression Editor.