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Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor Keys and More

Lesson 9 of 26

Changing Keys Within Your Track

J. Anthony Allen

Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor Keys and More

J. Anthony Allen

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Lesson Info

9. Changing Keys Within Your Track

Lesson Info

Changing Keys Within Your Track

Okay. Welcome back. Here we go. So this mysterious last thing in the circle of Fifths that I want you to show you is probably the most valuable thing at the shows us. And what it is is ah, something called closely related keys. Or sometimes we call him modulation keys. What that means is the keys with the most in common to each other. Um, and the circle of fifths shows us that if we are in the key of C, there are two keys that we could go to in which we would only really have to change one note, and that would be the one on either side of it. So it would be G or F. Those are only one note different. And you might say what weight wouldn't de be the most logical cause It's like, right above it, um, or even see sharp because it's just above it. Um, and you'll be wrong. Actually, the closest related keys to see is G or F. Now let me explain why. And let's look at our piano grid to explain why. So let's make this nice and big and let's draw out. Let's throw out C major scale. So the pattern...

I don't really need to count out the pattern because it's the C major scale is just the white notes. But let's count of the pattern anyway, because we're gonna need it in a minute. So whole step whole step halfs that pulls that pull step, whole step, half step. Lovely sound there. Oh, let's do that. Okay, so there is our c major scale, all the notes of scheme C major scale. Now let's do what we might think is going to be the closest related key, and we'll actually let me jump back. I think I skipped something that I wanted to say. That's important. And that is why do we care about closely closely related keys? The reason we care is because if we're making a track and we're in the key of C major and we're like, Okay, this is cool. We've got all our cords laid out using the diatonic chord progression. Ah, and we say these are the cords that work in this key, but none of them work for what we're really hearing. What we really want to do is something different. We say none of those seem major. Keep key chords work. Great. Where else can I go? Could I go out of key a little bit? Could I borrow from another key? Your best bet would be to use one of the neighboring keys. So if we're in the key of C and we say, Well, all of those cords air boring, they're not the one I really want. Then try the chords in the key of G or the chords in the key of F. If you're in the key of a try, the chords in the key of D or the key of E gets you more possibilities. If you want to just modulate to a new key. If you want to go totally to a new key, going from something like If we're in the key of G and we want to modulate to a new key, going to see won't be very extreme. It'll be like, OK, that makes sense. That's a cool key change. Ah, it's not like whoa, like hitting you over the head. Extreme key change. An extreme key change would be going all the way across D sharp. You know, we're sorry D flat. That's an extreme key change because the amount of notes in common are almost none. Um, so we wanted to find chords with keys with common notes. So let's duplicate this. Let's say what if we looked at C sharp? So I'm gonna nudge everything up 1/2 step. Okay. What notes? How Maney notes in Common do these keys have key of C and the key of C Sharp? They have that note in common f and they have see in common. That's it. So even though it's only 1/2 step away, it's the closest possible key. When it comes to the root of the key. It's actually quite far away because it only has two notes in common with the actual key. But let's go to the key of D. Hold on for this sound for a second, Okay, now we're in the key of G. Now I'm gonna take these notes on, and I'm going to flip him up in octave so that they're in line with our C. Actually, no, No, because that's just a little bit more confusing, So Oh, let me just put a space in between there so weaken separate out. What is R. C and What is RG? Let's just make this nice and big here so we can see all of it. Perfect. Okay, let's see how many notes these have in common eyes. They're a C. Yes. Is there a D? Yes. Is there e? Yes. Is there a F? No. So f is not in common. And is there an f sharp and see? No, there's not. So the f is different. So that's one note different. Is there a G? Yes. Is there a Yes. Is there a B? Yes. And is there a C? We are determined that yes, there is a sea. So that's the only no different. It's just one note different the f in order to get from three Kiev see to the key of G All we have to dio is that now we're the key of G. So it's just one note different. What about the key of F now in the key of f here in the key of C here. How many notes are in common? See, there's a G. Is there an A? Yes. Is there a be? No. There's an a sharp instead of a B. And then is there a c yes, determine that. So for the see through the key of C to turn into the key of F, this B has to go down to an A sharp. But that's it. So there's only one note that has to change for those to turn into each other. Uh, so that's why these air closely related keys when you're looking at all of your possible cords, we could borrow one from the, uh, neighboring keys on the circle of fifths. So that's why this is important if you want to do an extreme court or a key change in a song than go far away from where you are in the circle of Fifths. If you want to do a subtle key change state close to where you are in the circle. If it's ah, sometimes we can even go to away, and it's not all that weird. So from C to B Flat or two D, let's compare C to D. How about that before we compared CEO? Okay, here we go. Plug your ears for a second way, Go actually kind of love that sound in a weird way. So let's compare these, um so is there a C. Nope. There's no sea in the key of D. There's a C sharp, though. Okay, so let's remember that for a minute. Because that's one There is a d. There's a e. Is there an f? No, But there is enough sharps. That's too. Is there a G? Yes. Is there in a Yes. And is there a B Are Is there a way that that should be a B? Remember, we changed that too, in a sharp in the previous one. So that should be a B for the key of C. So, yes, there is a big So in order to get a C court Ah, the key of C into the key of D. What we need to do is take the sea and raise it up 1/2 Step two of them here. Something to do that. Yeah, and we need to raise the out up 1/2 step. Now. It's all the same notes, so that has to notes different in that one. So it's still kind of closely related. Um, and you can kind of follow that pattern every step away that you get will be one more. No different. So to go from C to G. You're going to add one note and it's gonna be one note has to go sharp. And it's an F in this case, Um, if you go two d, you're gonna have to make two notes sharp. If you go to a three, notes will have to be raised. And if you go to E, take a guess. Say it out loud. Four notes. You got it. So four notes have to go up. If we want to go to F. One note has to go down. So one note has to be flatted. If you want to go to B flat, two notes have to be flatted three notes or to e flat. Three notes have to be flatted, etcetera as we go down. So that is why the Circle of fifths is important. It tells us when we're writing good places to go, and that's so good places to go. Which doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad place to go and buy Go. I mean transition to in the next part of the song, like you're in your track, you're getting to the bridge and the bridge. You're like, I want to just be totally weird here. I want this to sound like we've just jumped into a whole new world. And if that's what you want and you're in the key of G, you're going to say, OK, I'm gonna go to B flat Minor. That's just a sfar away as I can get, that's gonna be have, like, almost no notes in common. And it's just gonna sound weird. Ah, it's gonna sound like we jumped to a different planet. And that's totally cool. You can totally do that if that's the sound you want. If you get to another section of the song, you're like, I want to do a key change here. I want to switch to something. But I wanted to be, um, not like a hit you over the head kind of key change, but just kind of ah ah, shift. Then you're gonna say Okay, while I'm in the key of G, Let's go to D maybe a tryout. A see how that sounds, Maybe see, and maybe f These ones are safe. They're gonna sound good. F is going to sound a little different, but it's still not not too far away. A maybe even e That gets pretty far away from G, But you could make it work. Um, that one's trickier. Once you get that far away, you start getting into the this is gonna sound weird territory. Um, but that is the most valuable thing of the circle effects to us as producers is both coming up with new cords to use in a in a core progression. That or maybe outside of the key and also coming up with a key change if we want to do a complete key change. Okay, so that's it for the circle Fifth. Um, for now, we're going to next looking an analysis where we have to use one of these borrowed cords from another, uh, key eso I'll see you in the next little analysis. Hey, everyone. I know, I know. I said we were We were done with this video, but I just rewatched that video, um, to make sure that I I said everything I needed to say. And I realize there's one thing I forgot to say. That's important. And, um, I couldn't find a good place that displays it in. Some is controlled at the end here. Um, and it's really short. Uh, and what it is is don't forget about minor keys. If we're in the key of G, a good place to modulate would be D, But also, B minor would be just as good as D because remember, these are relatives. So, um this to get from a g chord to a D accord are sorry, the key of G to the key of D. We only have to add one sharp from where we are in G. So that's only one note away, cause it's right next to each other. So is B minor. Only one note that we have to change to get to it, right? Because these two our relatives, which means no notes, have to change their right on top of each other. But going from G to a minor means only one note has to change. So don't forget that minor chords are a good place to go to so far in the key of C, and we want to change to another key. Ah, the most subtle places we could go would be f de miner. And let's not forget about a minor. That's the most subtle change we could make e minor and G. Those are our happiest places to go because they make a smiley face. Sort of kind of sort of. OK, don't forget about the minor chords on to the next lesson.

Class Description

In the first part of Music Theory for Electronic Musicians, we learned how to work with the piano roll editor in a DAW to make harmonies, melodies, and whole tracks. In this second part, we'll expand on those ideas. We'll work with minor keys, focus some time on melody and bassline writing, and we'll talk about how different tracks work. 

Extensive Analysis 

In this class, we feature an extensive track analysis segment by Daft Punk, Avicii, Skrillex, and many more. In each of these segments, we'll look at their tracks on the piano roll editor. We'll talk about why they sound the way they do, and how you can use similar techniques in your own music. Each of these segments picks apart multiple elements of the song and dissects it in an easily digestiable manner. 

Who should take this course? 

Anyone interested in producing their own tracks. This will get you up and running and give your tracks a unique sound in no time.


This course consists of video lectures, which all contain a session in Ableton Live 9. If you are using a different program (or none at all), no worries! This isn't a class on how to use Ableton Live, and the concepts can be applied to any DAW.  

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Well, I slobbered all over you after your first class and this one is as good or better. I realize people don't go to college for 12 years and learn what you shared in a few hours and you didn't earn your doctorate with just this stuff. I mean Julliard must offer a lot more, but you have advanced my knowledge by miles and I've got to say thank you. Make some more of these simple, common talk courses - I'll buy them all.

Ben Küstner

Real Great Course. I learned a lot about Music Theory and now am jamming better than ever on my keyboard. Thanks Allen

Nick van Lochem

This course its so good he makes it al sound so easy. that ists easy to remember and use in your creations.