Understanding Ear Training Modulation

Understanding Ear Training Modulation

Understanding Ear Training Modulation

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Understanding Ear Training Modulation/em>

Q: I have two sections of a piece of music and they must be in different keys with a modulating chord at the end of section 1 which fits both sections. Can you explain this to me please?

A: In music you will find chords (usually dominant chords i.e. 1,3,5,b7) that will allow you to modulate to new keys. For instance starting in the key of C you could have the progression C Major to A7 to D Minor. This progression will most likely make you modulate to the key of D minor. But there are many aspect of Understanding Ear Training Modulation that to be stated:

  • Modulation is personal. Just because one person hears a modulation doesn’t mean everyone will.
  • The tempo of a piece of music greatly affects our ears and whether we modulate. That has very wide ramifications when working on music.
  • In order to follow a modulation you need to have a technique to know where you were and where you have modulated to. Two Note Ear Training teaches you this technique.
  • As your ear improves you will find you modulate less. Especially after working through courses like Key Retention Builder and Scale Analysis
  • Very simple chord progressions can modulate. Take the song “All along the watchtower” has a section where the chords are G Major to D Major to A Minor for two measures. Commonly people will be in the key of G then modulate to A minor once they are on the A minor chord for two measures. This is one aspect of both folk and rock music that can make it very difficult to hear. Working with the Hearing Chord Progressions course and focusing in on chords progressions like this is key to understanding modulation.
  • While dominant chords are often used for modulating sometimes you have direct modulations where you just jump to a new key with no preparatory chord. Again understanding the concept of how to hear modulation as taught in the Two Note Ear Training Course is very helpful

This doesn’t mean that all dominant chords make you modulate. For instance you could have a progression in the key of C. C to A7 to D- to G7 to C. If this progression is played at a moderate to fast tempo the A7 will not modulate to D minor. If you play this progression extremely slow the A7 will make you modulate to D minor and the G7 will make you modulate back to C major. So you can see that you can’t always tell if you modulate just by looking at the chords in a piece of music. Tempo is an important consideration when judging modulation but the bottom line is you need to use your ear to tell you whether you have modulated. In order to develop this kind of ability I suggest you work on your aural perception. Ear Training One Note Complete would be a good book to start this process of working toward hearing modualations.

Learning to hear modulations will take some time so don’t expect to have this ability right away. Once you pass out of Ear Training One Note Complete and the first level of Key Note Recognition you will be in a much better place to start working on hearing modulations.

I would recommend getting the Secondary Dominants book when you are getting about 70% correct notes on the Ear Training One Note Complete. I would work on improvising and singing through the various exercises. This will help you to not modulate so easily and to understand what scales to use over chord progressions that use secondary dominants.

That is just some basic things to think about when considering modulation in music. The courses I mentioned will really get your thinking in the right direction. Getting so you hear all of this will take much longer. But there is something to be said about understanding the way you should process a modulation or whether you should be modulating at all that is important to understand from the beginning of this ear training journey.

It is also recommended that you read Bruce Arnold’s Blog at his artist site. It contains more discussion of the musical topics found in these FAQs as well as other subjects of interest. You will also find the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located here which shows you the historic significance of the music education products found on the Muse Eek Publishing Company Website.

Understanding Ear Training Modulation

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