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Key Centers

Tonality, atonality, modulations

polytonality and polymodality

Polytonality and Polymodality

     It is the use of two or more distinguishable key centers, simultaneously. However, the term bitonal can be used instead of polytonality, referring to the use of two key centers in the musical composition.      One of the most important aspects… Read More »Polytonality and Polymodality

harmonic ambiguity

Harmonic Ambiguity

     A chord is ambiguous when it can be associated or implies more than one tonality or mode. As an example, every major or minor triad can be associated to two or more tonalities. For instance, the C major chord exists… Read More »Harmonic Ambiguity

polymodal chromaticism

How to Use Polymodal Chromaticism

     The term polymodal refers to the use of more than one mode at a time. Usually the layered modes share the same tonic, like C Dorian and C Lydian. Polymodal chromaticism is related to the fact that it is possible… Read More »How to Use Polymodal Chromaticism

modal mixture

How to Use Modal Mixture

      This technique is used to explore contrasts between different modes that share the same tonic root of a given chord. It can be used more freely if the used chord is ambiguous enough to allow the implication of several… Read More »How to Use Modal Mixture

modal modulation

How to Use Modal Modulation

     Using this technique implies that you already know how each mode sounds and how to make chords that sound like the mode. If that isn’t the case, take a look at this post of how you can make “modal… Read More »How to Use Modal Modulation

modal interchange

Modal Interchange

     In this post, I will be showing you how you can effectively use modal interchange and add variety to your chord progressions and (re)harmonizations. This is a technique that consists in temporarily borrowing chords from a parallel tonality or… Read More »Modal Interchange

chromatic harmony

Chromatic Harmony

     In this post we will be looking at a technique to use chords from different keys as a way of introducing some novelty or surprise in your chord progression and without having to necessarily make a permanent modulation. We… Read More »Chromatic Harmony

multi-tonic systems - coltrane changes

Multi-Tonic Systems

     This system consists in symmetrically dividing the octave in three or four parts. If we consider C to be used as octave, then we will get the pitches C, E and G# or Ab. When using these three pitches harmonically,… Read More »Multi-Tonic Systems

types of modulation

The Types of Modulation

     Using modulations in music, temporary or definite, lends a sense of sophistication and brings freshness to your music. That said, this technique is something you should develop; the ability to modulate to any key; being able to come and… Read More »The Types of Modulation

modulation and contrasts

Modulation and Contrasts

     A modulation is the shift from one tonal or modal center to another. Its most striking effect is the melodic and harmonic contrast or tension that is created when the shift occurs.      This device may be used for a variety… Read More »Modulation and Contrasts

chromatic mediants

Chromatic Mediants

     A mediant or submediant relationship refers to the relative distance of a third interval, ascending or descending, to a reference pitch or tonic. In the case of a C major scale, with C being used as reference pitch, its diatonic… Read More »Chromatic Mediants



     The chromaticism of the nineteenth century diluted the tonal system in such a way that it was only natural that the system would eventually be abandoned altogether. This new music without a tonal center, that was weakened or lost, eventually… Read More »Atonality

darkest to brightest modes

Darkest to Brightest Modes

     Now that you have a good idea of how each mode sounds and considering that we are dealing with modes from within the same tonality, it is time see how they relate to each other in terms of feel and… Read More »Darkest to Brightest Modes

tonality in music


     Simply put, tonality is a system of musical organization using the same set of notes and chords in which there are perceived relationships with the pitches or chords from within the same group of notes – stabilities, attractions and… Read More »Tonality

circle of fifths

Circle of Fifths

 It is a geometrical representation of the relationships among the twelve tones of the chromatic system – all the notes in the equal temperament; their corresponding key signatures and associated major and minor keys. If you start in C and… Read More »Circle of Fifths