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Thread: Solfege - Dick Grove Modulation and Tonicisation

  1. #1
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    Solfege - Dick Grove Modulation and Tonicisation

    Hi,

    I hope someone can give me some perspective on how they view/hear modulation using solfege.

    To give you a bit of background, I have a fairly decent understanding of theory and up until recently I practiced ear training by work tracks out by ear (as well as doing exercises like singing intervals, recognising them etc).

    A few months ago I got the chance to look over a friend's copy of Dick Grove's See it Hear it course. Then I started to learn moveable solfege.

    Now I can, for example, sing a scale and then change any of those notes to be a new function in a new scale (so for example I could sing C major and then 'pivot' at the E note and change the E into the 'so' of A major)

    But when i come to trying to use this skill in transcribing music away from a keyboard I seem to come unstuck.

    I think the problem is because in music theory there are often multiple ways of viewing the same thing.

    If we take a really simple example like The Beatles' Please Please Me (in E major)

    The vocal line is 'do-ti-la-so-la-so-mi-la-ti-la-so' and this is against a I-IV progression of E major (do-mi-so) and A major (fa-la-do)

    and everything is really simple to hear and understand the function of each note. Then we have the ascending chord progression:

    G major - A major - B major


    Normally I guess I would think of these chords as bIII - IV - V

    From my understanding of Dick Grove's grid concept I should probably think of it as modulating to G major and then modulating back to E major (although in theory you could think of it as modulating to A major and B major)

    So here's my question:

    One of the things I don't really like about the fixed-do solfege method is that everything is in reference to the fixed note C, and because of this the fixed-do solfege loses any notion of a note's function in the key.

    The key benefit of moveable-do solfege is that it teaches you to hear in relation to a keynote....and that seems great up until the point that there is a key change.

    From my knowledge of classical music theory you can see small deviations from the key like secondary dominants as being tonicisation of another key (but not necessarily movement away from your current key) and the less 'info' we are given about the new key the more different ways we can view the modulation. It seems even more ambiguous when we talk about movements from major to the relative minor.

    So does anyone have any tips or guidelines on hearing modulation in music (besides simply looking for new dominant chords and ii-V-I progressions to a new keynote?)

  2. #2
    Guitarist/Oudist/Composer jazz oud's Avatar
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    In your example, I wouldn't call that a modulation, but modal interchange (aka borrowed chord).

    The G is just taken from E minor, and A and B are still IV and V in E.

    So if you wanted to sing the G, it would be me-sol-te.


    The bigger issue with movable do for me is that minor keys can be both La-based (relative minor) and Do-based (parallel minor) and it can sometimes get confusing.

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    Thanks for the reply jazzoud.

    This was probably a bad example, my overall question is more along the lines of:

    How do you know when you are supposed to hear a modulation? Is it a function of experience (there are some that are glaringly obvious and then there are other examples that seem somewhat on the fence) or is it a function of analysing the music and seeing the different ways that it can be understood from music theory (and then choosing the one that fits best), ?

    Overall my understanding is that 'mi-fa' and 'ti-do' are the giveaway clues to what scale is being used (when talking about major). Once accidental notes are being introduced they can either be used for 'flavour' (so adding in some nice chromatic feel) or they can be an indicator that we are (at least temporarily) drifting from our key. So in a sense a new 'half-step' movement can either be chromatic movement or it can be a signal that maybe we have changed key and this new half-step movement is the 'ti-do' or 'mi-fa' of a key that we have modulated to.

    Better examples for The Beatles would probably be something like 'Free as a Bird' or 'Magical Mystery Tour' where there seem to be a few key changes (without me spending any time sitting there and transcribing or analysing the songs)

    Currently, pieces like Minor Swing by Django Reinhardt feel to me that they are essentially in a single key but have lots of chromatic notes...I never really feel that the key has shifted so I'm perfectly comfortable with this piece.

    Then there are songs that utilise a truck driver's modulation which are really obvious.

    But finally there is a category that isn't immediately apparent right now. My instinct is that in the same way that I can tell what 'do' is when we are looking at single key songs, I will develop the ability to detect the feeling of modulating to a new key through experience (as I come to notice that there seems to be a new 'do' that the music wants to resolve around) From what I can gather, this is the view that Bruce Arnold has (and he seems to be of the mindset that as it is perception, one day you may 'feel' as if a musical move is a modulation, another day you may feel as if it is simply a little chromaticism but maintain a strong sense of the initial key)

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  4. #4
    Compose /Arranger / Jazz Prod. Phil Kelly's Avatar
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    I'm not sure this helps to establish a"modulation " ..or a "tonicizational shift" you can hear ...

    but: anytime you are playing a scale ( say a C MA scale:

    CDEFGA etc and you make a tritone leap either up or down:

    i.e: C D E F G A >Eb /D#

    that alone will be enough to let you enable your ear to shift to either:

    the key of Bb ( MA or mi ) ...oe E ( MA or mi )

    you can amake this tritone jump at any point in the beginning scale , and it will lead your ear to another par of keys a tritone apart *

    C D E F G > G# /Ab to D = Eb or A ( MA or mi )

    C>Db /C# to G = Ab or D ( MA or mi ) etc etc




    *...with the exception of the tritone in the original key ..which will still leave you in the same key.


    Swing ..or I'll kill you ( Bill Potts )
    RIP

  5. #5
    Guitarist/Oudist/Composer jazz oud's Avatar
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    From what I can gather, this is the view that Bruce Arnold has (and he seems to be of the mindset that as it is perception, one day you may 'feel' as if a musical move is a modulation, another day you may feel as if it is simply a little chromaticism but maintain a strong sense of the initial key)
    Think about it this way: why do you think that classical composers always return to the original key at the end, after all the modulations? I think it's because even a fairly casual listener retains some sense of the 'home' key. Which means that on some level, all of the modulations are superimposed upon or heard in relation to the original key. So it's not an either-or situation, you can hear it as both in a new key but also in relation to the original key.

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