Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I've never been a big fan of modulations. Rather than seeming to grow from the music itself, they more often feel like cheap tricks by the composer to maintain the listener's attention. This is especially true (to my ear) of the repertoire for concert band. I'd rather the music stay in the same key and use rhythmic and melodic variation, along with same key harmonic variation. I usually like music to create and nurture a mood, or an alpha wave type trance, and modulation tends to alter the mood.

Working with the trumpet on the Christmas carols made me aware of a good reason for modulation. The trumpet has a very limited useable range, restricting the available keys for various tunes, depending on where the notes fall on the scale. If you were to arrange a piece for various instruments, when you come to a trumpet solo you might want to modulate to a key suitable for that melody in that key.

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