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Composition – Same Tune with Different Modes

Different Modes

I decided to explore parallel key modulation further and write a tune with different modes. I write the melody and harmonize using the major key first, and then modulate it to the parallel minor key without changing the direction of the tune. Since I am currently exploring C major, I decided to do C major and C minor.

My Perspective

When I write a tune, I definitely decide on a mode before writing. Major keys and minor keys evoke very different emotions for me; I would choose one over the other based on what emotion I would like to express. For this tune, I wanted express some nostalgia that I have felt around New Years Day. I find that C major is right for this feeling, because of it’s simplicity. Here’s a picture of the first draft of my tune!

I then played it in the parallel (harmonic) mode. The difference is huge! What I intended to be a light wishful tune became a dramatic tune that suggests a hint of pain. Take a listen for yourself! Which one do you like better?


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Mozart Sonata in C – Parallel Key Modulation

While I was working on the Mozart C major Sonata, two bars caught my attention. In my experience, often, a bar on it’s own does not generate a meaningful feeling. However, two bars, when placed next to each other, can have a profound aesthetic that the chords alone did not achieve.

You can hear the moment I’m talking about at 1:54. These chords are based off the same root, but have different modes. The first harmony is a G major chord, and the second harmony is a G minor chord. The first harmony is the end of a cadence, signalling an end of a section. The second harmony begins the next section, forging forward with a different mood.

Parallel Key Modulation

The G major section ends on a cheery note, flaunting it’s scale in flying runs. The G minor section retains this acrobatic attack, making me wonder more about how a change of mode can be used.  After doing some research online, I found that music theorists call this parallel key modulations. The following video gives instructions on the variety of ways you can modulate using parallel key modulations.

I love the effect that the parallel key modulation has! I am looking forward to exploring it further the next session I play and incorporating it into my own tunes.



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Exploration in C Part 1 – Mozart Sonata in C

I have decided to do an in depth exploration of keys as my personal project in my piano journey. Throughout the years, I likely have played pieces in every key! With this project, the idea is to get intimate with every key.

What flavour does it have? How are different modes used to create variety? How can I use this key to express myself?

While exploring, I intend to learn classical music and pop music in the key in question. There will also be listening exercises, improv exercises, transposing exercises, and composition exercises involved when needed! Quickly said, this is an expansive project, designed for me to gain a deeper understanding into every key. Along the way, I will be practicing notation, rhythm and technique.

We begin with C major.

C Major Part 1

My initial feelings towards this key: clean, classic, easy going and bright

I first warmed up with the technique I knew in C; this included parallel scales, arpeggios, chords and formula pattern. I quickly noticed that my formula pattern could use some work in coordinating my hands. This task has been added to my to-do list.

Then I googled through IMSLP piano pieces in C major. I landed on Mozart’s Sonata in C major.

While sightreading through the Sonata, I noticed that the high register in C major sounds innocent. It almost has a childish twinkle to it. The sound is clear, whimsical and and light.

I also thought the accidentals were very noticeable in a land of white keys. They added an immediate contrast and peaked my ear’s interest as it flew by.

The timing is not necessarily easy in the intro of this piece! I decided to slow down the piece considerably to work on the rhythmic structure of the piece. When left unchecked, I felt myself play faster and faster through the scale-like runs.

Stay tuned!

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