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Techniques to change to any key when improvising

Posted By: Visalia

Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 01/29/18 04:09 PM

Supposing you improvise without care. Is it easy to then resolve your piece to a given key, having gone off on a tangent?

For example, here in 'Funeral for a Friend' we see an Emm7b5 being used (@ 1:15) as a sort of transitional chord to bring it from the key of C minor to A major. Might this be part of a musical technique, how the song changes key, but yet it doesn't feel random?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T92k1Nz5NIE

There's something similar to that being done in this performance too... from the 0:39 mark to when the singing starts. Although I'm not too sure of the chords here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyWAJTUIVNg

In addition to the thread question, I'd also like to know the chords of the latter piece. Some of the chords I have listed may be simplified or incorrect... especially for the G and A chords because I've a feeling there's something different about them!

Cm/3 - Ab - Bb - G - A - D5 - D5(with added m7) - Gm

Thanks
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 01/29/18 04:26 PM

The ability to modulate into any key requires knowledge not just in chords, but in harmony in general.

https://www.artofcomposing.com/the-art-of-modulation-part-1

https://www.artofcomposing.com/the-art-of-modulation-part-2-common-chord-modulation
Posted By: Simon_b

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 01/29/18 06:25 PM

Hi

In respect of the examples you've provided in the links, I don't think there is much in the way of improvisation going on. The introduction to Funeral for a Friend is played as he always plays it. Maybe in Rocket Man there is a little bit going on in the opening Piano statement. Whilst Elton John is a great musician he's not a Jazz improviser, and he doesn't improvise without care (as you describe it).

When he's playing solo concerts, I'm sure he does play with more freedom, but I suspect it's less about improvisation, and more about him using a bag of variations and riffs that are well drilled under his fingers.

Of course this is all just my opinion, but its based on watching him play over the last 40+ years, and quite a bit time I've spent studying his playing style as I am a fan.

Cheers
Posted By: jjo

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 01/30/18 04:09 PM

Simon b: Love the word "whilst." Americans should start using it!
Posted By: Simon_b

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 01/30/18 04:18 PM

Hi jjo

Funnily enough I'll be in Chicago in May for a few days as part of a 2 week holiday in the US.
I'll see if I can start a "whilst" promotional tour, while I'm there! :-)

Cheers
Posted By: Greener

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 01/31/18 02:09 PM

Heard he is doing a farewell concert tour starting this year and may invest in tickets that open for sale in February for when he comes to the big smoke in September. Whist not as big a fan as I was in the earlier years, I've never seen him and think would be fun and as well have friends that remain huge fans and thinking of treating them. If, I can get tickets that is. May look up your Chicago tour as well, Simon. Also sounds like fun.

Part B of your question:

Gm7 She packed my bags last night C9 pre-flight.
Gm7 zero hour nine A.M. C9
Eb and I'm gonna be Bb/D high Cm
Cm7/Bb as a kite by F/A then

Gm7 I miss the earth so much I C11 miss my wife (C sus4 is fine for the C11, but is nicer/fuller with the Bb added)
Gm7 it's lonely out in space C11
Eb on such a Bb/D time Cm less-flight Cm7/Bb
F/A, F/C, F, Cm7/F

Bridge ...
Bb, Eb, Bb, Eb, Bb/D, C7, Eb, Bb, Eb ... Repeat.

Got this straight from a book I have. In the version you posted he is in this same key(Bb). Hope helps and what you were looking for.

Posted By: Oasismfg

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 01/31/18 05:19 PM

I'm also a big EJ fan, and never saw him in concert until last year. One of the best shows I've ever seen, don't know why I waited so long. When I heard the news, I got tickets right away for my whole family to see him in Feb at Caesar's Palace.

From my experience at his show last year, it sure sounded like significant improvisation on almost every song he played, and it was mostly the old hits from the early years. I was thinking at the time what a lesson this is, but I'm sure Simon is right. He's been playing piano all his life, he could have a dozen variations for each song to choose at will, or maybe a dozen frameworks that he never plays exactly same way.
Posted By: Simon_b

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 01/31/18 08:50 PM

Hi

There used to be a very good website called "Eltons Cafe", which contained a lot of detailed analysis of his playing and the song structures. It disappeared for some years, but it has been recreated by some fans.

https://eltonscafe.net/

This is well worth checking out, and is the best website on Elton John's playing that I've ever seen.
Sadly its not complete anymore but there is still a lot of interesting information.

Cheers
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/01/18 07:13 AM

As I understood, the question about modulations is no longer relevant.
Posted By: indigo_dave

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/02/18 01:43 PM

I've never been a big fan of Elton. He lost me years ago with his pop music. BUT I have the album (vinyl and CD both) "11-17-70" . It was recorded in a live radio studio (in New York I think) on Nov 17, 1970 with an audience of about 100 invited guests. The album is just EJ on piano with a bass player and drummer. Great stuff.

Burn Down the Mission from 11-17-70
Posted By: jjo

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/02/18 04:30 PM

11/17/70, one of my favorite albums. I can't think of very many other instances where someone had the confidence to play rock and roll with just a piano trio.
Posted By: Simon_b

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/02/18 05:50 PM

Hi

The re-release of 17/11/70 as a double LP set last year, is well worth getting. A whole record of new material. It's not been released on CD (well not last time I looked) so I bought a new turntable, and made my first vinyl purchase for 30 years!

On the website I mentioned above there is a transcription of part of the Burn Down the Mission performance from 17/11/70.

Cheers
Posted By: Visalia

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/03/18 11:11 AM

Originally Posted by Greener
Heard he is doing a farewell concert tour starting this year and may invest in tickets that open for sale in February for when he comes to the big smoke in September. Whist not as big a fan as I was in the earlier years, I've never seen him and think would be fun and as well have friends that remain huge fans and thinking of treating them. If, I can get tickets that is. May look up your Chicago tour as well, Simon. Also sounds like fun.

Part B of your question:

Gm7 She packed my bags last night C9 pre-flight.
Gm7 zero hour nine A.M. C9
Eb and I'm gonna be Bb/D high Cm
Cm7/Bb as a kite by F/A then

Gm7 I miss the earth so much I C11 miss my wife (C sus4 is fine for the C11, but is nicer/fuller with the Bb added)
Gm7 it's lonely out in space C11
Eb on such a Bb/D time Cm less-flight Cm7/Bb
F/A, F/C, F, Cm7/F

Bridge ...
Bb, Eb, Bb, Eb, Bb/D, C7, Eb, Bb, Eb ... Repeat.

Got this straight from a book I have. In the version you posted he is in this same key(Bb). Hope helps and what you were looking for.

For goodness sake, I obviously know that. It was the intro that I'm asking about.
Posted By: Visalia

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/03/18 11:20 AM

Originally Posted by Nahum
The ability to modulate into any key requires knowledge not just in chords, but in harmony in general.

https://www.artofcomposing.com/the-art-of-modulation-part-1

https://www.artofcomposing.com/the-art-of-modulation-part-2-common-chord-modulation

That's a lot of text to throw at someone, which I assume is explained in a long winded and complicated way. I guess I just want to learn one trick at a time.
Posted By: Visalia

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/03/18 11:28 AM

Originally Posted by Simon_b
Hi

In respect of the examples you've provided in the links, I don't think there is much in the way of improvisation going on. The introduction to Funeral for a Friend is played as he always plays it.
I know. But the key change technique still applies.
Originally Posted by Simon_b

Maybe in Rocket Man there is a little bit going on in the opening Piano statement. Whilst Elton John is a great musician he's not a Jazz improviser, and he doesn't improvise without care (as you describe it).
Elton John's improv parts have gotten a bit boring over the last few years.

In 2014, he had some damn good improv stuff in his Rocket Man intros... it was almost like he was a different person. But now it seems like he's just using the same ole bag of tricks for his improv parts.

He has seemed to eliminate the tricky songs from his latest setlist... the likes of 'Funeral for a Friend' and 'Carla Etude', for stupid songs like 'The Bitch is Back'.
Posted By: Simon_b

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/03/18 03:13 PM

Hi Visalia

When people take the trouble to reply to you, you could at least be polite.
Your replies to Nahum and Greener are not.

Cheers
Posted By: indigo_dave

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/04/18 03:18 AM


I happened to think of the Beatles "Yesterday" - at the "why she had to go" line there's (in the key of Fmaj as I'd play it) an Em7 (add11) A (altered depending on your voicing) Dm Bb
This is an"easy" form of modulation used here and there. In this case it's just going for a moment (tip toeing) into the relative minor and heading back to F.

Another simple key change (modulation) is in the Beatles "I Want To Hold You Hand" in C maj (as I'd play in) on the "and when I touch you I feel happy inside" there is a G min C F Dm
again making something into a "ii V I" function.

These are short and don't last, but they could. It's all in how you proceed.
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/04/18 10:48 AM

Since modulation is a transition from one tonality to another, it is necessary to give the concept of tonality: a scale from a certain note receiving the function of the main first step - the tonic; and a system of chords built on all seven steps of the scale
Besides the main function of tonic, there are two additional functions: the dominant and subdominant. It is necessary to understand that the function is not a chord, but the property that tonality attaches to the chord in accordance with the scale.
Thus, each of the three functions - T, SD and D refer at least to three chords located at the steps of scale:

T - at I , III , VI

SD - at IV, II , VI

D - at V ,VII ,III

I , IV and V are the main steps of three functional groups of chords. Together they form a chord pattern, called tonal cadence - in the following order: T -SD- D- T . In C major it will be C-F-G(7) -C ; in F major : F - Bb -C(7) - F ; etc.
In tonal music there are no chords without some function; conversely, you can see that one chord can have two functions , and the knowledge of these functions helps to move from any key to any other - ie. create a modulation.
To determine the key, we look for the neighborhood of three functions SD-D-T ; however, the most representative function is the dominant, which sooner or later inevitably leads to the tonic.

Some types of modulations.


1. The simplest is the sudden modulation: the musical fragment ends on the tonic, and you go over suddenly, without any preparation to the tonic of new key. It is not very desirable if there is a vocalist.

2. Prepared modulation: before a new tonic you put a new dominant, or pattern SD -D from new key .

3.Modulation through a common chord for both keys; which is called - pivot chord . For example, you need to switch from C major to Bb major. They have 2 common chords : Dm and F ; through each of them you can go into a new key: C - G(7) - C - F - Dm(III of Bb) - Gm(VI of Bb) - F(7)(V of Bb) -Bb.

4. There are 3 universal chords for switching from any chord to any other and key to any other - 3 diminished 7 : Bdim7 ,C dim7 ,C#dim7 , and all their inversions. Through them, you can go straight to any new tonic, dominant or subdominant; only in many cases you get them in inversions, which requires continuation in a new key to a logical final cadence.

From C major to G# minor : C - F -G -C - Bdim7 - G#m/B(new tonic) - C#m (new subdominant) - D# (new dominant)- G#m .















Posted By: Simon_b

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/04/18 03:23 PM

Thanks Nahum
Posted By: AprilE

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/04/18 05:06 PM

A lot of what is written on this forum is beyond me, but I learn from it and really appreciate the time posters put into sharing their knowledge. It's a real gift! When an OP responds arrogantly with entitlement and rudeness, it certainly sours the conversation.

Nahum, thanks to you especially for what you posted. That is very interesting to me! I understood it! I must be progressing. : )
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/04/18 05:32 PM

Originally Posted by AprilE


Nahum, thanks to you especially for what you posted. That is very interesting to me! I understood it! I must be progressing. : )

You're welcome! Only I am very worried if I correctly describe the terminology and order of words ...
Posted By: AprilE

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/04/18 07:29 PM

It's good! It's good! The position of privilege that anglophones have in our global society always seems rather unfair to me. Perhaps all us anglophones should have to learn a little Chinese or something, just to balance things out. : )
Posted By: Londonpianist

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/05/18 12:17 AM

The thing that I find most relevant is that a dominant 7th chord only happens in one key.
So if you are in the key of C and want to go to the key of G, playing a G chord won't do it (feels like the dominant of C still), playing a D chord feels like a shift because the F# is new but it could still go a few places, but playing a D7 really establishes a modulation because it only happens in the key of G.
Using other chords on the way makevthe move smoother, but it's dominant 7th that does the work.
Posted By: Greener

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/05/18 02:22 AM

Originally Posted by Visalia

For goodness sake, I obviously know that. It was the intro that I'm asking about.


You said the chords to the latter piece. One thing I am not is a mind reader. I was trying to help.

Posted By: Visalia

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 02/05/18 09:46 PM

Originally Posted by Nahum
Since modulation is a transition from one tonality to another, it is necessary to give the concept of tonality: a scale from a certain note receiving the function of the main first step - the tonic; and a system of chords built on all seven steps of the scale
Besides the main function of tonic, there are two additional functions: the dominant and subdominant. It is necessary to understand that the function is not a chord, but the property that tonality attaches to the chord in accordance with the scale.
Thus, each of the three functions - T, SD and D refer at least to three chords located at the steps of scale:

T - at I , III , VI

SD - at IV, II , VI

D - at V ,VII ,III

I , IV and V are the main steps of three functional groups of chords. Together they form a chord pattern, called tonal cadence - in the following order: T -SD- D- T . In C major it will be C-F-G(7) -C ; in F major : F - Bb -C(7) - F ; etc.
In tonal music there are no chords without some function; conversely, you can see that one chord can have two functions , and the knowledge of these functions helps to move from any key to any other - ie. create a modulation.
To determine the key, we look for the neighborhood of three functions SD-D-T ; however, the most representative function is the dominant, which sooner or later inevitably leads to the tonic.

Some types of modulations.


1. The simplest is the sudden modulation: the musical fragment ends on the tonic, and you go over suddenly, without any preparation to the tonic of new key. It is not very desirable if there is a vocalist.

2. Prepared modulation: before a new tonic you put a new dominant, or pattern SD -D from new key .

3.Modulation through a common chord for both keys; which is called - pivot chord . For example, you need to switch from C major to Bb major. They have 2 common chords : Dm and F ; through each of them you can go into a new key: C - G(7) - C - F - Dm(III of Bb) - Gm(VI of Bb) - F(7)(V of Bb) -Bb.

4. There are 3 universal chords for switching from any chord to any other and key to any other - 3 diminished 7 : Bdim7 ,C dim7 ,C#dim7 , and all their inversions. Through them, you can go straight to any new tonic, dominant or subdominant; only in many cases you get them in inversions, which requires continuation in a new key to a logical final cadence.

From C major to G# minor : C - F -G -C - Bdim7 - G#m/B(new tonic) - C#m (new subdominant) - D# (new dominant)- G#m .


Thanks Nahum
Posted By: Visalia

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 06/17/19 06:36 PM

Originally Posted by Nahum
As I understood, the question about modulations is no longer relevant.

I don't think so. He does it here again at the start of this video when he goes from the key of A (key that the crowd are chanting in) to the key of C.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOQFPTtKl44
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 06/22/19 11:21 AM

This is a type of sudden modulation on a common tonic note E (pivot note).
Posted By: Wes Lachot

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 06/22/19 02:02 PM

I tend to look to the Classical composers for modulation techniques, and by studying Beethoven I've learned that to modulate from anywhere to anywhere else is pretty much a piece of cake once you grasp a couple of key concepts.

The most basic of these concepts if "foreshadowing". The leading tone of the new key, if it is not present in the old key, is often presented ahead of the modulation in order to give a clue that it's coming, so that when it does, it seems correct.

The modulation that Classical composers were asked to make most often was to the key of the V. In Sonata Form, this modulation is usually required as a major structural component of the harmonic form. Ironically, this fairly common modulation was, IMHO, one of the most awkward ones for them to make convincingly. When you hear them start to hammer on the V of V repeatedly for bar after bar, until you finally start to accept the V of V as the V of I, you can reasonably surmise that you are hearing the major modulation away from the key of the I and to the key of the V that constitutes the "Prodigal Son" template of Sonata Form. This usually happens about 1/4 of the way into a Sonata Form piece.

Beethoven, however, tends to do these type of pedantic modulations less, and comes up with some clever alternatives. One is in the 2nd movement of his 7th string quartet. In this modulation, he simply makes the V chord minor, which relieves this chord of it's dominant characteristics. Then as soon as you hear the V of V, it sounds like the V of I. This is very effective for a slow movement where you can't get away with the other method of beating the modulation into peoples' skulls.
Posted By: Nahum

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 06/22/19 02:19 PM

Originally Posted by Nahum
This is a type of sudden modulation on a common tonic note E (pivot note).
It was the wrong definition - “common (pivot) pitch between two tonic chords”.
Posted By: Wes Lachot

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 06/22/19 04:18 PM

Originally Posted by Wes Lachot


The most basic of these concepts if "foreshadowing". The leading tone of the new key, if it is not present in the old key, is often presented ahead of the modulation in order to give a clue that it's coming, so that when it does, it seems correct.

The above holds true when modulating "up" the circle of 5ths (to a key with fewer flats or more sharps).

When modulating "down" the circle of 5ths (to keys with more flats or fewer sharps) it's the other guide tone, the 4th of the new key, which must make it's appearance prior to the modulation for proper foreshadowing. This 4th then resolves down the 3rd of the new key's tonic chord. For instance, to modulate from the key of C to the key of F, the B flat needs to be foreshadowed, and will eventually resolve down to an A note when F becomes the new tonic key.

Modulating in the other direction, from the key of C to the key of G, it's the F# note, leading tone of the new key, that must be foreshadowed, and will eventually resolve up to a G note when G becomes the new tonic key.

These principles still hold even when the new key if further away than one sharp or flat.
Posted By: Cudo

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 06/22/19 08:33 PM

Originally Posted by Visalia

For example, here in 'Funeral for a Friend' we see an Emm7b5 being used (@ 1:15) as a sort of transitional chord to bring it from the key of C minor to A major. Might this be part of a musical technique, how the song changes key, but yet it doesn't feel random?

You are wrong. The "pivot"chord at 1:10 (it's not at 1:15 as you say) is Dm7(b5) and not Emm7b5 (this is absolutely wrong) as you said.
Dm7(b5) is a chord with subdominant minor function in the key of C minor. The exspected chord to follow is G7(b9).
G7(b9) is the dominant chord of the foregoing key of C minor containing in itself a diminished seventh chord which is Bo7.
The Bo7 chord equals the Do7, Fo7 and G#o7 chord. Elton changes the Bo7 chord for the G#o7 chord.
Because all these 4 diminished chords have different enharmonic spellings this kind of modulation is called "enharmonic modulation".
Instead of G7(b9), which stands for Bo7, Elton takes G#o7 which standes for E7(b9) which is the dominant of the following tonal center "A".


PS
There is no improvisation without care in Elton's playing. If you improvise without care it sounds [censored]. Elton's playing sounds ok to my ears.
If you are interested I could explain the 2nd example too.
Posted By: ZeroZero

Re: Techniques to change to any key when improvising - 08/13/19 07:23 PM

There is a guy on You Tube called Warren Mc Pherson. Piano withWarren. He is a gospel teacher and I rate him highly. He has a very good video on modulation
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