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Transition chords - Mattias Westlund - 07-12-2016

A couple of years ago I stumbled across a great video tutorial on youtube that dealt with different transition chords that you could use for doing very seamless key changes. Foolishly I never bookmarked it and I've been trying to find more info on this topic ever since. Does anyone know what kind of chords I'm talking about? IIRC they came in a couple of different varieties, like e.g. an Italian and a German version that differed slightly but achieved basically the same thing. I'm not sure it was Italian/German but at least there were two ways (or more) of doing it.

Does anyone have the slightest idea what I'm talking about?

RE: Transition chords - kaeru - 07-12-2016

Hi Mattias, I found these 2 vids that are not exactly what you are looking for, but might be worth checking out:

The beginning is just basics but then he gets into Diatonic Chord Substitution to change keys a small step at a time, there may be some insight you may find interesting.

This video is about something called Parallel Key Modulation which allows you to jump across the circle of fifths in bigger steps in a nice way, this one was new to me, a good video to watch.

Sorry I couldnt find the vid that was about the more classical approach, but I'd be interested in what others find too !

RE: Transition chords - Mattias Westlund - 07-13-2016

Thanks for posting these kaeru. Sadly, none of these deal with the type of transitions I was thinking of. Making the subdominant become the tonic and using the dominant to move beween major and minor in the same key is pretty basic stuff IMHO. The video I had in mind dealt with -- IIRC -- making "unusal" key changes sound less jarring or something like that. I remember clearly recognizing these chords and modulations from various classical pieces but right now I can't seem to remember any specific one, so I can't give you any examples.

Also, it was a piano video which is part of the reason I had sort of a erueka moment when watching it. Even though I'm a guitarist I've always found it much easier to visualize how everything fits together on keys.

RE: Transition chords - Samulis - 07-14-2016

Are you talking about things like Constant Structure (where you use the same chord voicing and transpose it by interval, e.g. CMaj -> BMaj -> BbMaj -> A Maj, etc. or CMaj -> A Maj -> F Maj -> D Maj) or perhaps tritone substitutions (replacing a dominant with a dominant built a tritone up/down)?

In more classical language, there is also the usage of secondary dominants, and in some cases, 'secondary dominant chains' that are often responsible for offering a sense of tonal shift symptomatic of a modulation before and during the actual transition (e.g. one might use the V/vi in C Major to precipitate a modulation to A Major, as in C: I -> iii (or perhaps... bVII?) -> V/vi -> VI (a.k.a. I in A) and now in A: I -> V -> I (or more strongly, I -> IV -> V -> I). This practice of using the secondary dominant of the desired tonic in the original key and then reassuring the modulation is what typically separates a temporary tonicization from a formal modulation.

In many cases, simply ending a phrase with a definite cadential form can be enough to allow a modulation, even a jarring one, to occur in the next bar.

Perhaps there is more information here, although I was unable to locate the section dealing with modulation at a short glance- I do believe it is intermixed here and there in sections throughout the website, for example- (see the usage of secondary dominants and such "dual-function"/"pivot" chords which have functional value in both keys in the Bach work). They nicely break stuff down too. (notice how he cadences, which frees him to modulate)

Another common method is through a modulatory motif, as in example 375 here- (Wagner being quite famous for twisting and recycling motifs in as many ways as possible)
or here- (wherever you see an '=' is essentially a modulation/tonicization, whereas what was previously = what is now)

RE: Transition chords - Mattias Westlund - 07-14-2016

That's a lot to wrap my head around, especially since I don't read music (or, more correctly, I know how notation works and I *can* read it with a lot of time and effort, but it's easier to just say that I can't because it amounts to the same thing) so I can't really comment on whether that was the type of thing I was looking for. At a glance, this goes waaay above my head. The big downside of being self-taught and mostly doing things by ear is that it's difficult to explain things to other musicians. I have a good grasp of how everything fits together but I lack the terminology to explain what I mean, like?

Anyway. The best example I can think of right now is what happens here at around 0:56, when the fanfare theme moves from F major to C# major using a minor seventh (and possibly some other subtle harmony as well; the Throne Room fanfare uses minor sixths under a major chord a lot so as always with Williams all bets are off, it's not easy to pinpoint). This is the kind of making-weird-stuff-sound-perfectly-logical stuff that I'm after.

RE: Transition chords - Fealow - 07-14-2016

Good to know i'm not the only person here who does not rely on reading music, although like yourself I can do it at a slow pace.

RE: Transition chords - PPH - 09-16-2016

Some googling shows that the augmented sixth has a German and Italian versions, as well as a French one, and that it is used in modulation:

Here's an exctract of the linked article:

"Using an augmented 6th chord as a pivot chord in modulation: 
Since the German sixth chord sounds just like a dominant seventh chord, these two chord functions can be used interchangeably as a pivot chord.  For example, the V7 chord in any key could be become the German sixth in a different key, or vice versa, the German sixth could be respelled to function as the dominant seventh.  Since the German sixth sounds like a V7 built on the low 6th scale degree, this means that the keys that can be modulated to are one half step up or one half step down. 
For example, in the key of C, the German augmented sixth chord uses the notes A-flat, C, D#/E-flat, and F#.  These are the same tones as the dominant seventh chord spelled A-flat, C, E-flat, G-flat, which is the V7 chord of the Key of D-flat.  Using this chord as a pivot would allow us to modulate up a half step from C to D-flat major, a distant modulation.  If the chord functions are used in reverse, the V7 in the key of C (G,B,D,F), would be respelled as G B D, E#, the German sixth in the key of B major, allowing us to modulate down a half step."

Perhaps the video was an example of that.

RE: Transition chords - Mattias Westlund - 09-16-2016

After having skimmed through the article, I think that's it! Big thanks thanks PPH! I think "pivot chord" was the term I was looking for, which was maybe why I couldn't find any info on this.