Changing Keys in Hip hop/Pop music

Discussion in 'Education' started by charlie6495, Jan 10, 2020.

  1. charlie6495

    charlie6495 Member

    Jan 10, 2020
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    BX New York
    can anyone help me out with changing keys in my hip hop / pop beats like I knew the circle of fifths but how to I successfully apply this anybody have any video links they can help with ?

  3. Zayricch

    Zayricch Newbie

    Dec 29, 2019
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    Simon servida has a video where he changes keys in someones song the right way, it was in one of those vids where he fixes a sub's beat
  4. charlie6495

    charlie6495 Member

    Jan 10, 2020
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    BX New York
    think you can link it ?
  5. Ad Heesive

    Ad Heesive Rock Star

    Apr 21, 2019
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    Best Answer
    I won't (can't) make any assumptions about how much music theory you have already explored, or how much you want to explore. But you said... "I knew the circle of fifths but how to I successfully apply this..."
    That suggests you're already 'on board' with the idea that some music theory can be really useful here and it suggests you might already have the basics in place.
    Personal opinion:- I think there's no getting away from needing some music theory for a topic like 'key changes' unless the key changes are just crude and simple examples. I also suggest it's really useful to have a basic grasp of what modes mean.
    So first off, if anyone needs it, here are some highly recommended videos for the basics...
    and especially watch the videos about keys and modes

    Assuming the theory basics are understood...
    About key changes... here's some more jargon words that can lead to interesting discussions of what you might be looking for.

    Modulation versus Tonicisation (you'll inevitably be choosing which of these you're aiming for in your work)
    Tonicisation = very temporary key change before returning to the original key
    Modulation = longer lasting (maybe even permanent) key change

    Personally, I think Tonicisation is the more interesting, far more subtle version of Modulation.
    When thinking about Tonicisation... see it being discussed using these jargon words instead...
    • 'borrowing chords' from other keys, e.g. you're in the key of C major and you borrow chords from the parallel minor key (C minor)
    • 'modal interchange' same idea, different jargon... e.g.,
    Beato on youtube does some pretty neat videos on topics like this. His videos tend to be fast paced and they often assume you have basic theory in place already (and he provides other theory videos to back them up)
    Here are some of his videos with nice examples of tonicisation and modulation.
    and these are some of his supporting background theory for the above videos


    Also, I did a few small practical examples in another thread.
    Note: these posts were NOT tutorials! Better to think of them as discussions + exercises + illustrative answers.
    These posts just evolved chaotically in a thread where we were analysing simple pop songs, and showing how thinking about modes helped, especially (of course) when the songs do actually change modes. Eventually the comments needed to flesh out the modal theory enough to do an analysis of a 'tricky' Radiohead song. The comments also provide broader discussions, e.g., what it even means to 'be in a key' .

    See these.. (all in the same thread - maybe explore the thread to see the context - how these posts came about)
    • A first example of why, for lots of modern music, thinking in modes can more useful than traditional analysis approaches (without in any way contradicting traditional analysis) This simple song has no key changes.
    • A challenge exercise - example simple pop-rock song to analyse. Includes changing modes.
    • mini explanation answering the above exercise
    • Was about to analyse a trickier song by Radiohead, but then realised it required a lot more explanatory ideas first.
    • Analysing the Radiohead song - "Everything in its right place" If you follow this then you're doing OK with seeing how very subtle key changes can be used even in a deceptively simple sounding pop song. And an important comment... there's no suggestion at all that Radiohead thought about it like this (analytically). They just crafted another gem pop song, probably with no theory whatsoever. It's a classic example of "writing the song was inspired", "playing the song is easy", but "analysing it is quite tricky".
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  6. Smoove Grooves

    Smoove Grooves Audiosexual

    Jan 26, 2019
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    Gosh I'm tired. Was just about to say "but Tricky never did a collab with Radiohead!" :deep_facepalm:

    Very good post, @Ad Heesive . Well done! :wink:
  7. charlie6495

    charlie6495 Member

    Jan 10, 2020
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    BX New York
    you my friend are a gentleman and a scholar thank you soo much tonicisation is what I'm def going for in my music im glad I know the term now it helps soo much
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  8. Ad Heesive

    Ad Heesive Rock Star

    Apr 21, 2019
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    Indeed, but from my limited exposure to Radiohead (all of which I've enjoyed) it does seem like Radiohead likes to collaborate with "Tricky" and they do it so well :wink:

    Many thanks for your kind words; happy to hear that my comments might help. :like:
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  9. tvandlover

    tvandlover Producer

    Aug 27, 2016
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    How can you get the tuneless voice to change key?
  10. slackhead

    slackhead Newbie

    Jul 27, 2018
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    Move him to a new cell
  11. mrwatson

    mrwatson Noisemaker

    Feb 11, 2020
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  12. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    So the best way to change KEYS,
    Begins by understanding what a KEY is.( itself

    So looking at the KEY of C major .

    Step 1 is C major.
    Everything which follows is relative to C major.
    Step2 is that C major is the hero of the story , relaxed and still ( no movement no motion )
    This is called TONIC.
    There are 3 category's that everything fits into .
    The other two are called
    Subdominant ( a bit of movement or tension )
    So relative to C major this is like the heros journey.
    We are no still or rest anymore we are moving traveling motion or small tension.
    Lastly we have Dominant this is the villian of the story or movement or very tense .
    7 chords in the C major key only represent 3 things

    C major
    1 Cmaj7 CEG.....Tonic
    2.Dmin7 DFAC ..... Subdominant
    3.Emin7 EGBD....Tonic
    4.Fmaj7 FACE... Subdominant
    5.Gdominant7th ...Dominant
    6.Amin7 ACEG....Tonic
    7.Bmin7b5 BDFA...Dominant

    So in a key yes there 7 Diatonic chords ,
    But they don't represent 7 distinct separate things .
    The 7 chords only represent 3 things .

    These 3 things ( Functions )

    Are what a key is all about .
    The KEY is centered around C major
    And the other chords are either same as C major
    ( Tonic home hero relaxed)
    Or they are Subdominant ( tense, movement leaving home journey )
    And Dominant ( very tense or defeating the villian of the story )


    Chord progressions
    Make up a song section like a verse or chorus
    But they are made up our 3 functions .

    Tonic/ Tonic
    Here is a Progression that stands still
    It stays home and has no tension .
    Now we just plug in our chords
    Cmaj7/ Emin7/
    Emin7/ Amin7/
    Amin7/ Cmaj7
    That's an easier one
    But now lets try

    Tonic/ Subdominant/ Tonic/

    So now we establish the heroe then go out on journey then come home again.

    Cmaj7/ Fmaj7/ Cmaj7
    Emin7/ Dmin7/ Amin7
    Amin7/ Dmin7/ Cmaj7

    Let's now look at this one

    Tonic/ Dominant/ Tonic/

    This one establishes our hero then introduce our villian then we defeat the villian and go home .

    Cmaj7/ G7/ Cmaj7
    Emin7/ Bmin7b5/ Amin7
    Amin7/ G7/ Emin7

    So you see we have different " flavors"
    For each function , even though they the same thing. It's how we can do many choices and varieties in music .

    Step 5 Non Diatonic substitutions

    Now that we know how simple a KEY really is.
    And that we have a center focus ( C major )
    Then we have 3 functions for how everything related back to C major .
    7 Diatonic chords represent only 3 functions groups categories .
    When we expand now to include all 12 notes and all chords related to C major while staying in our KEY still ( zero modulation )
    Everything works the exact same way still.
    We have all 12 notes and every chord that exists ,
    Fitting into these 3 functions in the KEY of C major .

    Now because it would take 100 pages just to fully explain every detail of this in the correct order ,
    I'm going to try to get to the point .

    The KEY of C major
    Tonic function has non Diatonic chords as well
    F#min7b5 for example D7 Amin6
    These are tonic chords in the KEY of C major .
    Next Subdominant
    Has Fmin6, Abmaj7, Dbmaj7,
    F#dim7 ,
    Are a few Subdominant chords in C major KEY
    Has the largest category .
    Because it is strong tension.
    This is the understanding to connect to any KEY.
    V7 to Imaj7 progression
    Is the strongest in music .
    So in KEY of C major
    G7 / Cmaj7/
    Is simply an expanded version of the Cmaj7/
    Tension and release .
    We have a dominant chord right before any chord .

    So if I start with this .

    Tonic/ Subdominant/ Tonic

    Cmaj7/ Fmaj7/

    I can expand this by adding the V7 chord before each .

    Cmaj7/ {C7/Fmaj7} G7/

    So say you trying change KEYS

    Let's say from C major to E major

    Cmaj7/ Emaj7/

    Just put the V7 of Emajor

    Cmaj7/ {B7/Emaj7/} Amaj7

    So the way to modulate is to use the KEY the way it works on the first key and the second key
    But find relationships they both share for your transition.
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  13. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    Now , here is 1 excersise to master modulations


    Play this progression repeating as a song for 30 days

    Come up with 50 or 100 songs all different from each other in melody and rhythm

    At the end you will have mastered modulation for the rest of your life .

    All you have to do is treat each chord as a dominant
    With it's alterations ( treat it as a V7 chord of it's key )
    Because the notes always resolve to the next chord correctly .

    V7 dominant chord alterations .

    Looking at G7 in key of C major .

    1357.... b9... 9.....#9.... #11... b13

    Just use those alterations as a foundation for a dominant chord to start with getting it into your ears

    Next resolve each one of the above notes
    ( Each note of the V7 chord resolves to the tonic )
    To Cmaj C E G

    G Carry's over
    B resolves to C
    D resolves to E or C
    F resolves to E
    G# resolves to G
    A resolves to G or carries as 6th of Cmaj
    A# resolves to A 6th of C maj6 CEGA
    C# resolves to C
    D# resolves to E

    So notice our above excersise this portion of it

    { G7/ C7}
    So we are resolving
    To C7 not Cmaj7

    However C7 is
    The CEG are in there. And that is what the V7 chords notes in G7 resolve to .
    So when you see G7/ C7
    You make your half step resolutions on impact with the C7 chord on C,E,G then you just add in the Bb
    Note delayed
    Once you have sounded that it is a C7 by having Bb
    In there, now you follow same process for this portion
    { C7/F7}
    Same thing, except
    Now it's based on the Key of Fmaj
    Until you sound the F7 delayed FACEb
    Then it moves on to be { F7/Bb7} etc.

    So the important thing to note here is that
    You can make any melodic contour and any rhythmic motion , in any form.
    ( Here the form is
    B7/E7/A7/D7.......etc. continue through all 12 dominant chords )

    But you can make 500 million songs all different with that Progression or any other .
    It's just getting used to these things
    And this 1 single excersise with take you a long way to understanding modulation.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
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  14. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    Now after saying all that above.
    You shouldn't modulate if you haven't yet got used to all the chords still in the KEY!
    Like ex
    How much you used to these Progressions?
    KEY of C major ( yes I know so boring of a key right?)

    Cmaj7/ F#dim7/ Dmin7/ G7/

    Cmaj6/ Fmaj7/ Bb7/ Cmaj6/

    F#dim7/ Fmaj7/ Emin7/ Ebdim7/ Dmin7/G7/Cmaj

    Cmaj7/ B7/ Emin7/ C#7/

    Amin7/ Dmin7/ C#7/ Cmaj7

    Bmin7b5/ E7b9/ Amin6

    Cmaj7{Gmin7/C7/Fmaj7} Fmin6/ Abmaj7/Cmaj


    Fmaj7/ F#dim7/ Cmaj7( G in bass)

    There's a couple for you in key of C ( zero modulation.
  15. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    Then just one more thing, here is how to start using the information in my above comments in a way applicable to pop music ( the information in this video will work in a daw as well )
  16. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    A very basic but very common modulation, is by major 3rds.

    So In KEY of C major

    Modulate to E major and Abmajor

    If you want keep it simple

    Use I IV and V chords for your
    Tonic I
    Subdominant IV
    And Dominant V

    Then just practice traveling between
    C major E major G# major
    With I IV V progression
    Using the Voicings and info in the above video.
    Try these

    Dmajor, F#major A#major
    { Gmajor, Bmajor, Eb major }
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