Tip #108 – Innate Pulls of Dominant Modulations

Take a look at the melody below and analyze it the best you can:

Notice how the melody seems to be for the most part centered in an E Mixolydian mode.

However, you have those two measures highlighted in blue that hint at a temporary modulation to B Mixolydian. Then, it returns back to E Mixolydian.

If you play this melody, the transition works so smoothly. Why?

Well, think about the B Mixolydian mode. The mode itself is built around a B7 chord. In common music theory practice, the B7 chord will resolve (typically) to a chord with a root in E.

Thus, that is why the modulation from B Mixolydian is smooth, because it has the innate pull to resolve back to a centered tone of E anyways.

So, for this tip’s overall lesson: when using temporary modulations, consider the resolution of the scale/mode as well as the chords built on it for a seamless transition.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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