How To Spot Key Changes

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how to spot key changes

Listening to this short video will help you to better identify when key changes in music occur. Featured are 8 curated songs by famous artists including Janis Joplin, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys, Bon Jovi, The Beach Boys, Kermit the Frog, and Beyonce. How to spot key changes is not always easy. This video lesson will help you identify even the less obvious ones.

How To Spot Key Changes – More Info

Generally speaking, songs with key changes are usually limited to one change. However, there are indeed many tunes with multiple key changes. For example, Beyonce’s “Love On Top” includes many changes towards the end of the track.

One of the reasons why songwriters, music arrangers and producers include these key changes is to prevent a song from sounding too monotonous. This shift in music keys is usually up in pitch (not down) which provides a song with an audible lift, giving it a new dynamic. Average listeners many not be able to explain a key change. But most folks can detect when something in the sound of a recording has suddenly changed. Listening to a few examples of songs with key changes will make detecting them in the future very easy.

Key changes in songs actually come in two categories: key changes and what’s known as ‘modulation.” The difference is, when a key change occurs, the song will continue in that new key for the duration of the song. Modulation, on the other hand, refers to a key change somewhere in a song, but the music eventually returns to the original key. A wonderful example of a modulation occuring in a song is Eric Clapton’s Layla – both the original and acoustic unplugged versions.

Key changes usually involve moving a song’s key up either a half or whole step. Doing this tends to breath new life into a song, especially very repetitive songs. Less common are downward key changes.