Jazz Blog - January 2, 2006

Ear trainer update - modulations

Online ear trainer - click to try!The random melody generator now includes modulated sequences.

A modulated sequence is a short phrase which is repeated, starting on a new note. Because the melody line itself doesn't change (the distance between each note remains the same), the repeated phrase is played in a different key. Thus, we can say the sequence has modulated into a new key.

Modulated sequences are quite common in jazz solos and are frequently used to connect inside and outside playing. The "out" part of the sequence is connected to the "in" part by the fact that the shape of the melodic line is the same. This connection adds cohesion to the solo and helps the listener identify the "out" portion as a deliberate act, rather than a bunch of funky notes.

EXAMPLE

Original phrase: C, D, G, E

Same phrase, modulated up a minor third: Eb, F, Bb, G

Notice that the spacing between the notes hasn't changed from the original phrase to the modulated phrase. We're playing the same melodic line but we've now started on an Eb instead of a C. If you were playing the above over a C7 chord, the original phrase is the "in" part, and the modulated phrase would be the "out" part.

Enough reading, try it out!

Comment by Felix

I have been having some trouble getting the application to play chords descending. It does find ascending, but I have selected descending in the dialog box. I prefer to hear chords going downward from the melody pitch on top. I am a firm believer in melody harmonization. We spell chords from the bottom up but we voice and should be hearing chords from the top down.

I am not ready for the melodies yet.

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