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Thread: Mode mixture question

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    Junior Member sammyooba's Avatar
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    Default Mode mixture question

    Is there any set rule of thumb for avoiding change of mode when borrowing chords?

    I once made a song and I was borrowing chords once every other chords. I had flute teacher listen to it and she said she couldn't tell what key I was in.

    So I want to make the key I am more distinct pretty much. Is there a guidelines for this?

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    Senior Member Igneous01's Avatar
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    my best advice would be to stick to your scale. if your in D major for example then stick to the notes in that scale, there is nothing wrong however with having foreign notes inside your progressions.

    the question to ask yourself here is:

    1. Is this a theme/subject/melody/important piece of the music that will be reiterated? if so then you may need to be conservative with how you handle chord progressions into foreign notes or keys.

    2. If it is not, what is its purpose?
    if you are trying to modulate to another key (lets say go from theme A in D major to theme B in A Major, it wont sound very fluent if you just put both themes side by side, so its neccessary to create an oblique chord progressions that will lead into this new key - this is where you may do whatever you want to get to that key.

    if its an episode, then anything goes really, episodes are parts of music that try to glue the main music together, even tho sometimes they are not used this way.

    i may be wrong in my terminology here, but thats how i understand music. im sure someone with more insight could fill you in better detail than I

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    Senior Member Kopachris's Avatar
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    Your question isn't terribly clear to me... Do you want to keep your tonality while using chords that are minor when they should be major or major when they should be minor (e.g. D Maj chord in C Major)? If that's the case, then you simply need to make sure a few tonal progressions are still in place. Emphasis on the tonic, subdominant, and dominant (I, IV, V) chords strengthen tonality. Emphasis on the mediant and submediant (III and VI) strengthen modality. For instance, to change from C Major to C Minor (but still remain in C), you could use a G Maj - C Min chord progression, perhaps with an E Maj chord between them. Note that while you can change the mode of the I and IV chords, the V chord must always be major to act as a dominant and strengthen tonality (which is why harmonic minor keys have a raised degree).

    Hope this helps.

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    I hate to say it, but that sounds like a stupid criticism from the teacher to me. Who cares what key it's in?

    Did it sound like it was supposed to? If so, then I would think the harmonic confusion was the whole point!

    What would've happened to William Walton's Viola Concerto if he had tried to be more clear about what key he was in? It would have been completely destroyed! The whole point is that it's minor and major at the same time!

    There's a composer named Jean Langlais whose style has been called poly-modal. He used multiple modes almost all the time. If someone had told him they couldn't tell what key he was in, he wouldn't have cared in the slightest.

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    Junior Member sammyooba's Avatar
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    I care not because my teachers told me to care ( I don't have teachers ) but because I don't believe we can achieve as good of a climax if you keep jumping around keys. I want to use other keys to support the key I am in, not take over the key I'm using. I'm thinking to achieve this, I should just use unstable chords as it can slide easily between things while stable chords like the 3rd and 5th cannot. I'm not sure if this would make sense to you guys though.

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    Senior Member Romantic Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sammyooba View Post
    I care not because my teachers told me to care ( I don't have teachers ) but because I don't believe we can achieve as good of a climax if you keep jumping around keys. I want to use other keys to support the key I am in, not take over the key I'm using. I'm thinking to achieve this, I should just use unstable chords as it can slide easily between things while stable chords like the 3rd and 5th cannot. I'm not sure if this would make sense to you guys though.
    Out of curiosity, who's your favorite composer (or top 3?) Because...I can guarantee you that you can reach a great climax without never establishing a key. Many of the late Romantic era composers did it (and judging by your willingness for modal mixture, then I'm guessing that you're a fan of some type of Romantic era music.)

    Unstable chords creates the dissonance! Dissonance creates the tension! Climax is reached through maximal tension (followed by resolution??? that's up to you?)
    B.M. Music Theory - University of Connecticut
    M.M. Music Theory - College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati (in process)
    My Soundclick Page - feel free to browse my compositions I post up there

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