We will show the existent closely related tones first and then we will talk about each one in detail:
Dominant and subdominant closely related keys
They have just one (or no one) accident related to the main tone.
Parallel closely related keys
They have the same tonal center among them.
First of all, let’s talk about Dominant and subdominant closely related keys. The degrees that have just one accidental note in relation to the main tone are IV and V degrees. The sixth degree doesn’t have any accidental note. As we are used to, let’s check these affirmations. Take as example C major harmonic field. The fourth degree is F major, the fifth is G major and the sixth is A minor. See below the scales of each one of these tones:
F major scale: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E
G major scale: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#
A minor scale: A, B, C, D, E, F, G
Notice as the scales of four and five degree (F and G) have just one accident (Bb and F#, respectively) related to the main tone (C). A minor scale doesn’t have any accident, since it is a relative minor.
Very well, these are some closely related keys that we can use to do modulation. Another option it would be taking relative tone of degrees IV and V (because they have the same notes of these). Let’s see this in our example:
F relative minor: D minor.
G relative minor: E minor.
D minor scale: D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C
E minor scale: E, F#, G, A, B, C, D
As it was to be expected, these scales have the same notes as in F and G scales. Therefore, they also have just one accident in relation to C scale. In the point of view of the tonic, they are the degrees II and III of the C harmonic field (D is the second degree and E the third degree).
Parallel closely related keys, on the other hand, are parallel keys. Let’s check C major and minor scales:
C major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B
C minor scale: C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb
Notice as the parallel key has three accidents in relation to the main tone. But, besides having three accidents, the central tone is the same to parallel tone, and this makes that this tone has an affinity with the original tone. The solving, in both cases, goes to the same C tonic (tonal center = C), wherein this tonic, when we think in the chords (C and Cm), differs only one note: the third. This is why a parallel is also considered a closely related key.
Nice, we already know which ones are the closely related keys. The practical use of them, as we mentioned in the beginning, is to know how to choose where we can modulate in a song. Choosing modulate to a closely related key, we are choosing a tonality that has some affinity with the main tone, this will result in a transition well accepted to our ear.
Distantly related keys
The tones that are not closely related keys are considered distantly related keys. Nothing prevents that the song has modulation to distantly related keys, but this must be done with a lot of care and conscience.
Sometimes the composer’s idea is precisely radicalize and turning the harmony upside down, but it is needed be aware of it. Please don’t try to insert abrupt modulations if the idea is just diversifying the harmony. You should try first the closely related keys.
We will work with modulation in the next studies, so you can use these concepts. For now, try to “feel the taste” of the closely related keys in relation to the original tone. Get used to this idea, and then your ear will be sharp to recognize not only the fact that the tonality has changed, but also where it has gone.
Go to: Scales application
Back to: Module 8