Discovering the Magic Chord Modulation
The magic chord modulation is a powerful songwriting tool that can help us establish key changes and special moments in our songs. Here, we will learn what is the magic chord modulation, examples of songs that use it and how we use this in our own songs.
This blog post aims to summarise the fourth and final part of our video ‘4 Chord Tricks The Beatles Knew (and you should too!)’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.
What is the Magic Chord Modulation?
For us to understand the Magic chord modulation, let’s take a look at the bridge of “Something” by The Beatles. There is a part where a G Major chord is followed by an A Major instead of C Major, which is what it would normally go home to. After this, A Major becomes our new key centre instead. In this situation, G Major is being used as the magic chord, and is also known as the pivot chord.
A magic chord is basically a flat seven major chord. If we take a look at all of the chords of A Major, we’ll find that the seventh chord will always be a vii dim chord. And it turns out that in any Major key, it is fine to swap out the vii dim chord with a flat seven major chord instead.
Flat seven means that we take the diatonic root of the seventh chord, and flatten it by a semitone. So, in the case of the key of A Major, that would result in G# being flattened to G Natural. From there, we can either choose to use G Major or G Dom 7 as our magic chord.
It doesn’t matter whether you choose a Major or Dom 7 as your Magic chord, as both are fine, and the choice is just a stylistic one.
Click here to download a free PDF containing major and minor line cliches in 2 positions, that you can use to experiment with magic chord modulation on:
How to Use the Magic Chord in Your Songs
One method of using the magic chord is of course to just simply chuck it into your chord progressions. In this instance, this wouldn’t be modulation, but it would just be us using the magic chord in a progression.
However, another thing that we can do is that we can try starting in a different key from our reference song. So, for example, we could choose to start in the key of D Major. The first thing that we’ll do is that we’ll plan out our chord progression by finding out the V of our key. In the key of D Major, our V is A Maj, and thus our V7 is A Dom 7.
From here, we need to find a key that has A Dom 7 as it’s flattened seventh chord. We can do this by counting a whole tone up from our V7 chord, which in this case would be B. Thus, we now know that B Major is our new key centre that we will modulate into from D Major, using A Dom 7 as our pivot chord.
Conclusion: Discovering the Magic Chord Modulation
The magic chord modulation is a powerful technique that allows songwriters to introduce captivating key changes into their music. By understanding the concept of the flat seven major chord and its relationship to the original and target keys, you can create magical and surprising moments in your compositions.
If you want to explore the magic chord modulation in more detail, click here for a playlist on how to adapt chord progressions from other songs in really creative ways.
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