A Minor to F Minor?
January 17, 2011 4:54 AM   Subscribe

Musictheory filter: Im writing a song and id like to combine two parts, the first is in a minor (and ends with an f major chord) and the second is in f minor. Im looking for simple and complicated transitions.
posted by freddymetz to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My first reaction is that you could have the b-part in the relative minor of F major instead, which is d minor, and thus no elaborate transition is required; you'd just go stepwise down in the bass, or go past A major (dominant before d) or something simple. If you want more action in your transition, you'd just harp around in one of the two modes.

If, on the other hand, you really prefer to end in F major and have the b-part in f minor, that's unorthodox no matter what; it would indicate a sudden change of mood, color, universe, you name it. This would most likely work best if you'd actually skip a transition and just enter in the new mode.
May I suggest in this case, however, that you shift to f# minor? Then your third (a) stays the same while everything around it gets way more exotic.
posted by Namlit at 5:31 AM on January 17, 2011

thanks for your answer! It is a sudden change in mood but i dont want to be like voila! here it is..i wanna make it more subtle. To clarify, the basic underlying chord progression is part a: a C G F (e) and part b is f and Eb.

Ill go to the piano to try your suggestions out right now :)
posted by freddymetz at 7:01 AM on January 17, 2011

Seconding an abrupt change (if you're ending on F major, you've got the tonic connection there).

If it's modulation you want, though, you could go up to the C major, and add the 7th - giving you the dominant of F minor. You could do it with a descending scalic bass - Am -> Gdim7 -> Fm. Both of these options rely on the E as a pivot (dominant of old key becomes leading note of new ones); if your F minor has a more modal character (ie it uses E flat and never/rarely E natural) that doesn't really work.
posted by monkey closet at 7:06 AM on January 17, 2011

Sorry, missed your comment above. If the second chord of b is E flat, we’re in modal territory. My answer probably isn't much use.
posted by monkey closet at 7:08 AM on January 17, 2011

The thing is, it's hard to make a "subtle" transition from Am to Fm as those keys aren't very closely related. However, the obvious pivot chord would be a C major, like monkey closet says; it's the III in Am and the V in Fm.

It never hurts to look at Beatles songs for modulation ideas. Things We Said Today comes to mind, which begins in Am and modulates to F as well as to A.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 7:22 AM on January 17, 2011

f-major - d-minor - a-minor - c7 major - f-minor
posted by Namlit at 7:32 AM on January 17, 2011

Anatoly P's link talks about the Neapolitan (II flat) chord. Again, it depends on the mode of your song (in this case, though, whether the 6ths are raised or lowered - so are there more D flats or D naturals?) but this might be another way through - II flat in A minor is B flat - IV in your new key.

The best advice I had on modulations in song structures was to work backwards - figure out how you want to approach the new key first, then work backwards to the original key.
posted by monkey closet at 7:39 AM on January 17, 2011

I was just thinking about how Haydn didn't even bother to make a graceful transition in this sonata. The initial statement is in G, switches after 2 sections to g minor, sits there for another two, and then switches back. To transition out of g minor he simply does a chromatic run back up to the dominant. Pretty lazy sauce, Papa Haydn.
But I think it's kinda funny, as a "where was I going with again... oh just back to the theme" moment.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:08 AM on January 17, 2011

A slightly jazzy method:

F -> Dm7 -> G7 -> C7b9 -> Fm

Or, I've always liked the way "Needles and Pins" modulates up a major third; maybe there's some inspiration here:

[last bar of chorus] C# (V of F# major) ->
[bridge] A# (III) -> G# (II) -> F# (I) -> F7 (V of new key, Bb major) ->
[first bar of next verse] Bb (I)

The actual jump is really bold--just straight-up dropping from F# to F7--but the preceding stuff distracts you a bit. First there's surprise--when the C# doesn't go back to F#, which it always did previously in the song. Then there's relief, when the descending bit does indeed bring you back home to F#. (But also a little tension, because you're only on the third bar of the bridge--you know it's not over yet!) Then more surprise as you head to F7, but it's not that much of a shock, since you knew something was going to happen. Then great relief as you resolve up to Bb--the various jumps you just went through were without leading hints, but finally you ended up on a dominant 7th, and by god, it went exactly where it was supposed to. (Another nice thing is that you saw Bb just a moment ago, as A#. The very first surprising chord turned out to be exactly where you were headed.)

So, trying to adapt that approach, maybe something like this:

F -> Ab -> C -> Db -> Eb7 -> Fm

The C is familiar from the previous key, but I -> III -> IV -> V is common enough that it's not a shock when you leave again. (I -> III7 -> IV -> V might be more common, but leaving out the 7th on the C means you're not sure whether you're back home or not; C7 would be a dead giveaway that you're heading out again.) Finally, a deceptive cadence gets you to Fm instead of Ab, which is maybe a little unexpected but still pretty bog-standard, so there's no shock.
posted by equalpants at 1:07 PM on January 17, 2011

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