28 Ways to Create Great Segues: Segue #4
By Jon Nicol
28 Ways...Moving from Song to Song with Different Keys
In the first installment of "28 Ways," we looked at three different ways to get from one song to the next within the same key. Now we start looking at moving from one key to the another. So prepare yourself for the greatest key change of all times...
Segue #4- Song to Song: The Barry Manilow Key Change
This is what a friend of mine called it when I'd modulate up a whole step from one key to another without a preparatory chord. (btw--he's the Barry Manilow fan, not me...let's just establish that fact right now.) I'm taking a few liberties, because the "Barry Manilow Key Change" is referring to an in-song modulation. But Barry Manilow is way more fun to reference than "the sudden key change" key change. Try using the BMKC two ways:
First, the way Barry intended it: inside the song. Modulate the first song's last chorus or verse to the key of the next song. This works best if you're going up a whole or half step. (Disclaimer: I can't be held responsible for what might happen if you modulate down, or higher than a whole step. Now I'm not saying it can't work, but...).
As I write this, one of my upcoming worship services I've planned has us singing the classic hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy" in the key of D, modulating to the key of E for the last verse, and then going into the old school, "We Fall Down" by Chris Tomlin in the key of E. (Isn't it sad that some Chris Tomlin songs are now considered "old" and "classic." It took 30 years for How Great Thou Art become "old." But I'm of track, arent I?)
By the way, I mentioned that transition between those two songs in the last section. Using it twice illustrates how these different segue tricks and techniques can be combined.
In the way of full disclosure, I am, in fact, not using the Barry Manilow Key Change for this arrangement of "Holy, Holy, Holy", even though it works really well. If you really want to know, I'm moving from D to E in by way of the "flat 7" (b7) chord. It's one of my favorite tricks to modulate (my four year-old would call it a "sweet move,” that is, if he understood modulations). If you want, go ahead and download my arrangement of Holy, Holy, Holy to see how I make the transition. If you want to see an example of a key change without a preparatory chord inside a worship song, check out Be Thou My Vision.
Let's try a second way to use the "Barry Manilow Key Change" (and here is where I take some liberties with the reference to the king of all things cheesy pop--true Barry fans, just settle down...). Do this: end the first song in its original key and immediately begin playing the intro to the next song. Easy enough, but a few things to consider:
Make sure no one in your band is holding out a note from the last song. That will cause many ears to cringe and possibly bleed. I'm not lying...
The sudden jump in keys could be provocative (in a good way), but make sure it isn't a time during the worship service where you want quiet reflection.
It could be especially effective if the whole band modulates at once. (Note: whenever transitioning the band en masse, practice it. A LOT. It only takes one person to change your great idea for an awesome segue into one of those "what was I thinking?!" moments.)
The key change doesn't always have to go up. Maybe you're ending How Great is Our God (key of C) and you decide to go to Blessed Be Your Name in B. End How Great is Our God with a bar of C and the next bar begins the Blessed Be Your Name intro in B. Again, really sweet if the whole band goes with you - so practice.
The next section will continue to look musical segues between songs in different keys.
September 28, 2009Tweet