The Unusual Link Between Chords & Keys

If you're ready to leave the comfort of songwriting in one key center, then this lesson will be awesome! The sound of smoothly flowing through one key into a completely different / new key can be both challenging and extremely rewarding musically. This lesson breaks down one of the smoothest ways of drifting between keys - the "Pivot Chord" modulation...

Whether you’re listening to chord changes and trying to transcribe what’s going on, or, if you’re composing your own original chord progressions, there’s a really cool technique that instantly helps any group of chords really stand out from the crowd.

The best thing is that this technique is so subtle - your listeners generally won’t even realize there’s something more complex happening. The idea I’m talking about here is referred to as “Modulation.” And, it’s good for ear training practice, or for creating your own original compositions.

In this lesson, we’re going to listen to a group of chords and then analyze what’s happening so that you can learn how to have this technique occur within your own songwriting as well.


Alright, let’s break-down the first thing that you’re going to need to learn in order to have some success drifting through keys (like you just heard me do there in that example).

The first thing is to make sure that you understand the basic harmony for the chords that exist within a key center. Our chord progression has two separate keys that drift between one another across the 8-bars of the chord progression.

Those keys consist of, “A Major” and “G Major.” So, let’s learn about the chord harmonies involved with building triads out of each of those keys.

Next, you’ll need to understand how to apply a blend between the two keys. This step involves taking advantage of any chord(s) that are shared between the two keys that you will be involving in your key modulation.

For this example, we've chosen the keys of "A" and "G" Major to modulate. A shared chord between these two keys is the "D Major" chord.

If we zero in on the “D” chord, we can begin to understand how it could get used to drift between keys. Since "D Major" is shared between both keys, it can function as a "Pivot" chord. With the "D" we have established a musical link across both keys.

Key Drift Example Progression:

Any chord progression that you compose can drift between key signatures. But, prior to composing your piece from scratch, you may want to study how some other songwriters have done work just like this.

Studying other music will help you to start applying this musical effect with some learned experience. Classical pieces use this technique a lot; like Mozart’s Sonata #12. But, pop music by Whitney Houston and rock songs by Bon-Jovi also contain this technique as well.

Have a listen to songs that drift between keys and learn some of the techniques, then try out composing some music like this on your own as well.

If you’d like to learn more about topics like this one and many others, join my web-site as a free member and start by taking a look at my “Intermediate and Advanced” Guitar Programs.

Those courses, run through topics like this one in great detail, - with the Advanced guitar program spending a lot of time teaching the; keys, scales, harmony along with exercises and drills to help you understand all of this information directly to the guitar neck – all done with instructional videos and handouts that are not only detailed but also easy to follow - so that you can use the information to compose and perform your music.

As always, thanks for joining me, if you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up on YouTube and subscribe for more, (remember to hit that bell when you subscribe so that you’ll never miss any of my uploads to YouTube).

Until next time, take care and we'll catch up again on the next video. Bye for now…



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