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Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs

Lexman 27 Jun 11 - 09:52 PM
Artful Codger 28 Jun 11 - 12:07 AM
Leadfingers 28 Jun 11 - 06:59 AM
My guru always said 28 Jun 11 - 07:28 AM
DrugCrazed 28 Jun 11 - 08:35 AM
Lexman 28 Jun 11 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,Grishka 28 Jun 11 - 05:04 PM
John P 28 Jun 11 - 06:53 PM
DrugCrazed 28 Jun 11 - 07:29 PM
Lexman 29 Jun 11 - 10:02 AM
John P 30 Jun 11 - 09:58 AM
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Subject: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: Lexman
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 09:52 PM

Years ago I picked up a song from a lame Baltimore street singer. He called it "Buddy Can You Spare a Dime?" because that was the first line (not to be confused with the Great Depression Song). I found out later the real name was "First Street Blues" and that it was written by Lee Greenwood.

The thing that made it different was that every verse modulated up one pentatonic tone until you started over on the first verse one octave higher.

Do any of you out there know of similar songs with more than one modulation?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: Artful Codger
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 12:07 AM

I assume you mean more than one "mode" (scale pattern, relative to the tonic) rather than one modulation (which may simply be a key change). And I don't know if you'd count tunes which shift dynamically between a major mode and its relative minor mode (such as between C major and A minor, or C Lydian and A Dorian)--though that is similar to what happens in the example you cited.

I can't think of any 3+ mode examples offhand, though contemporary pop pieces (particularly in the jazz world) may flit through a variety of tonalities and "modes", even if standard notation wouldn't overtly indicate this. And of course, pieces in "minor" tend to use three scale patterns simultaneously: natural minor (Aeolian), harmonic minor (Aeolian with major 7th) and melodic minor (major 6th and 7th ascending, natural minor descending).

Now that I think of it, blues tunes, with fluctuating/quarter-tone 3rd and 7th degrees--and gapped scales (gaps sometimes filled in different ways by passing notes or ornamentation)--, might fit your description.

I wrote a tune to "Unhappy Bella" which constantly shifts tonal base and must use at least three "modes" (according to old-style theory); but as it doesn't settle in any key or mode long enough for one to be firmly established, so I don't think it's the kind of tune you have in mind.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 06:59 AM

Tom Lehrer's 'We Will All Go Together When We Go' - Intro is in F Minor , Firts verse is in F major , second Verse in F# major , Third Verse is in G major . Middle Eight ? sort of A minor , then back to F Maj , F# , G etc ! GREAT fun on the guitar !!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: My guru always said
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 07:28 AM

I sing a few songs with each verse starting a bit higher (a semi-tone I'm told), but they're not supposed to be. Is that 'mode' or 'modulation'?

Searching for Lambs works well, as does 'Swallows Wing' by Tony Truscott but I understand that he's not keen on me singing it that way which is a shame IMO.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 08:35 AM

We Will All Go Together is the only example I can think of offhand.

Though the Sheffield Folk Choral do a piece called Yan Tan Tethera, which starts in D, then goes to Em, then goes to F#m, then goes to A, then goes to Bb, then...

I can't remember all the changes, Graham wrote it so that we had to change key every so often seeing as us folkies don't tend to have to.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: Lexman
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 10:47 AM

By Modulation, I meant key change.

I have Lehrer's "We Will All Go Together," but that is not what I had in mind. I will check out the leads provided, and thanks!

If any of you have a You-Tube doing one of these multi-modulation songs, I would appreciate the link.

Bill Perry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 05:04 PM

Lee Hazlewood sings "First Street Blues" all in D major. But it is a common trick, not only by street singers, to start each stanza a semitone or a tone higher. A single dominant seventh chord does the modulating. Larger intervals are rare, since they are a waste of voice range (when accompanied; see below). More sophisticated performers play a little "modulating interlude" which may arrive somewhere quite different. Think of Cat Stevens's "Morning has broken", where the third verse goes back to the original C major (from D major), though we may be tricked into believing that it went another tone higher.

In all these cases you cannot say the song modulates, it's just the arranger or performer. With some Gospel songs, however, modulation between the stanzas is more or less intrinsic, think of "Amen".

Some choirs, when singing a capella, manage to sink by a semitone within a stanza or two, so letting them modulate a semitone higher keeps them from dropping off their voice ranges.

Songs modulating in their own melody are quite common as well. Particularly modulating to the fourth or fifth and back again occurs in traditional songs, dances, and marches. Since the middle of 19th century, modulating by thirds became more common in folkloristic music, but is sometimes frowned upon still today. The same applies to gender changes (except for the ordinary parallels, of course).

Tom Lehrer is quite a different genre, borrowing from Jazz and Pop music.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: John P
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 06:53 PM

I think "Me and Bobbie McGee" modulates up a step between verse 1 and verse 2.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 07:29 PM

Mack the Knife suddenly springs to mind. I believe each verse goes up a semitone in most arrangements.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: Lexman
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 10:02 AM

Many songs are arranged to modulate once for effect. I was interested in songs that continuously modulate between verses.

It is interesting to hear Greenwood sing it all in one key. I used the multi-modulation arrangement I heard from the Baltimore street singer on many occasions (before Vietnam ruined my hearing and agent orange ruined my voice) because I could go from baritone through falsetto without missing a note. Also, the lyrics (at least the ones I heard) got progressively more abstract each verse (its really a sort of masterpiece of lyric writing).

I am looking for other such songs with multiple, full key modulations.

Incidentally, the chords for "First Street Blues" are basic and you can get the words from the link in this thread. The key progression I used was C:D:E:G:A:C (which can be adjusted for your low end). I would be interested in anyone's response to singing it this way.

Bill Perry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Multi-Modulation Songs
From: John P
Date: 30 Jun 11 - 09:58 AM

I am looking for other such songs with multiple, full key modulations.

I think many of the examples I've seen are in the arrangement rather than the composition. Take any song you like and modulate it multiple times.


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