Von: Siegfried Knoepfler

Datum: 4. Juli 2007 KW27 21:52:10 MESZ

An: cyberpluckers

Betreff: Re: [CP] Chromatic Question: Modulation? / New music demoes on my Web site


Sorry, Cyberpluckers,


for replying only as late as today ... and sorry to those who are tired of my pet topic, "modulation".


   However, if you want to know WHY some tunes appear to need "extra-diatonic" chords and WHICH chords are appropriate in such situations then you should read on.


   But first, in order to avoid a dry discussion, I'd like to mention a new recording I put up on my Web site: If you go to http://www.anaughtiharper.mynetcologne.de/music.html  and click on "Wanderlieder-Trilogie + Bonus" you'll hear four songs played on my d'Aigle autoharp (in my usual "work in progress" version):


1.     "Das Wandern ist des MŸllers Lust" [Key of A, cf. http://www.ingeb.org/Lieder/DasWande.html]

2.     "Geh aus, mein Herz, und suche Freud" [Key of D, cf. http://www.ingeb.org/Lieder/GehAusMe.html]

3.     "Wer recht in Freuden wandern will" [Key of G, cf. http://www.ingeb.org/Lieder/WerRecht.html]

4.     "(There is a) Tavern in the town" [Key of C]


(Because of limited Web space I had first to remove a couple of MP3 files, alas.)


The choice of keys and their sequence serves also to hint at my reasons for preferring a chromatic 'harp (although I have an F/C diatonic, as well, and at times I "pump felt" on it, for sure!). I won't say anything more regarding this point, since Karla, one of my autoharp heroes, has said it all, see end of this mail.


   Now to "modulation" and the cause for recording aforementioned tunes!


   What all 4 have in common is that they modulate for 2 or more measures into a key different from their "home key". However, they do not Modulate (with capital 'm', "in the big scheme of things" (Kathie  Hollandsworth) !) because they return to their main key, they do not wander off to another one (as does, for example, the [sometimes disputed] 3rd part of "Ragtime Annie"). Kathie H. as well as other musicologists prefer to reserve the term "modulation" for the latter kind, see her posting quoted below. Lacking another term for "changing the key within a tune", I have to stick to my use. (As a concession, I propose to distinguish Kathie's use as "major modulation" from mine as "minor modulation".)

[Annotation: In order to avoid confusion with modes (major and minor), I prefer meanwhile the terms "micro-modulation" (for short, intermediate modulation) and "macro-modulation" for modulation "in the big scheme of things".]



   Recognising the (temporary) change of key in a tune helps to find the best fitting chords on the chromatic autoharp.

   Take the first of above mentioned tunes: Counting measures in 2/4 time, it changes its key from A to B with measure #7 and stays there for 4 measures; i.e. with measure #11 the tune returns to the key of A. (Fortunately, it uses from the key of B only the subdominant and the dominant-seven, in other words: the IV and the V7 chords. So I can play the tune in these keys without having a B chord on my 'harp!)

   Measure #7 contains the notes sequence b-b-c#-b-a#-b where clearly the a# isn't part of the scale belonging to the key of A and therefore would need an extra-diatonic chord for being played. If you have dim7s on your 'harp you may be tempted to use one [C#dim7] for this note, but for sure, it would sound all wrong. On the other hand, if you use instead of the E7 chord (= V7 of key of A)  the E chord for playing the b notes and the F#7 chord for the c# and the a# notes, you are doing it just right. And this just so because E and F#7 are the IV and V7 chords, respectively, of the key of B. In other words, it is essential to see that the tune modulates here from A to B.


   Just for the record: Tune #2, also 2/4 time, changes from the key of D in measure #5 to the key of A and returns to the key of D with measure #7. Tune #3, in 4/4 time, changes from the key of G in measure #7 to the key of D and returns to the key of G with measure #9.


   Tune #4, Tavern in the Town, is an especially interesting case, which deserves a closer look. It consists of an A and a B part (the A part being repeated after the B part). While the B part is absolutely innocuous, the A part presents a real surprise: Counting measures in 4/4 time, the tunes initial 3 and a half measures are actually in the key of G! Only then the tune launches into its home key of C!

   This surprising fact can be easily verified. Look at the notes (prefixed to the syllables) for the first phrase:


/g/There /g/is /g/a /a/tav/g/ern /f#/in /g/the /e/town, /g/in /g/the /g/town,


   It sounds outright wrong if you use the F chord for playing the a note for the syllable "tav"; needed here, instead, is the D7 chord, as well as for the f# note. For the other notes, g and e, the C chord fits best. And the C and D7 chords are exactly the IV and V7 chords for the key of G. QED

   (In fact a similar situation as with tune #1.)



   Conclusion: It is important and helpful to recognise and identify (temporary) changes of key within a tune, whether one calls it modulation or not. For me, the term modulation comes handy for designating situations as in the tunes discussed here and so I keep using it my way.

   It is important and helpful to be aware of such modulation because seeing it immediately determines the chords best fitting the melody notes.


   Moreover, I plead for explicitly marking such (temporary) modulations in music sheets prepared as handouts for autoharp students. With demarcations of key changes, chromatic autoharpers see clearly when to reposition, and in which direction, their left hand along the button rows. In my own music sheet copies, handouts or other, I do it by adding appropriate key signature signs (sharps, flats, naturals) at the respective bars (and then erasing or masking superfluous accidental signs!).

   Two years ago I arranged Bob Wills' San Antonio Rose for my autoharp (keeping absolutely true to the original melody, of course), made a music sheet and sent it to Mary Ann for printing it in AQ. The copyright clearing process still drags on, unfortunately. I wish I could use it soon as an example for the way I propose for clearly demarcating modulations. [I play the tune in the key of D. The tune's structure is ABCA', each part consisting of two phrases. Undisputedly the whole C part modulates into the key of A, but I contend that the 2nd and 3rd measure of each phrase of parts A, B and A' modulate temporarily into the key of G. As soon as Mary Ann can print the sheet you'll see for yourself!] Already in 2005 I recorded my version of San Antonio Rose (playing it on my ZephyrHill 'harp), but for copyright reasons I don't dare to upload it to my Web site.



   Alas, a too long posting again. Sorry!





Siegfried in Cologne, Germany





Am 29.06.2007 KW26 um 01:42 schrieb [cyberpluckers digest]:


   <   ...   >




Message: 10

Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 15:10:22 -0400

From: "Hollandsworth, Kathryn"

Subject: Re: [CP] Chromatic Question

To: cyberpluckers


I would also say that (c) many tunes don't modulate - they never leave

their "home base key" in the big scheme of things - but they just need

more chords than are contained in a diatonic arrangement. They need

notes that are outside the diatonic scale, but that doesn't mean they

modulate to a different key.




John & Kathie Hollandsworth




Todd asked:

     Do you play chromatic because:


a) it allows you to transpose easily, playing the same redundant chord

patterns from song to song, obviating the the need for multiple 'harps?




b) it allows you to modulate from key to key within a given song that

travels freely around the circle of fifths, sort of Hal's single key D

Chromatic theory?


  The answer may be a + b, but if you had to choose?

  Or perhaps there's a c) you'd care to elaborate on?




   <   ...   >


Message: 13

Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 15:51:44 -0400

From: "Karla Armstrong"

Subject: Re: [CP] Chromatic Question

To: "'Todd Crowley'",



Todd asked:


     Do you play chromatic because:


a) it allows you to transpose easily, playing the same redundant chord

patterns from song to song, obviating the the need for multiple 'harps?




b) it allows you to modulate from key to key within a given song that

travels freely around the circle of fifths, sort of Hal's single key D

Chromatic theory?


To which Karla replies:


This is like asking, "Do you walk to school or carry a lunch?"  8~)


Many have already hit on the various reasons for playing chromatic autoharp.

It does offer great versatility, it does allow for wider repertoire, and,

for whatever reason, it is the frame of reference for most beginning



As for me, well, I guess I like a challenge.  I like a tune with complexity

and I like striving for the level of accuracy that a chromatic demands in

order to sound as good as possible.  Again, no indictment against diatonic

instruments or their proponents.  I own 'em and play 'em myself.


My goal is to become Ivan Stiles (I have an outside chance, now that he cut

his pigtail off!  Now all I need to do is lose some weight...)  As he aptly

demonstrated at MLAG, he is one of the rare players who has mastered both

chromatic and diatonic, and that is my goal.  But I'd still grab my

chromatic out of a burning house before anything else (given people were

safe and sound!).  All blessings,  Karla 8~)