Oh, how I love Key Changes!

I really do.

But not gratuitous key changes.  Well placed, smart key changes.

This concept was recently brought to my attention when listen to the AMAZING new album of Sara Bareilles.  Her song “Machine Gun” (which is an absolutely fantastic song) utilizes a great key change (from F) to Aflat for the chorus, followed by a smart key change back to F for the verses.

I love this for three reasons:  1) It really makes the chorus “pop”.  2) It  brings out her “money” belt note (‘C’) in the chorus and 3) Both key changes are melodically driven; the melody takes us to these new keys making the transitions smooth and unforced.

Two other interesting examples written in more of a theatrical context:

From the movie Enchanted, “That’s how you know” has an incredibly ingenious key change in the middle of both the verses and chorus.

If you’re not listening for it, you probably don’t even notice, but this key change becomes and integral part of the musical idea of this song and really drives the song forward.

Lastly, Legally Blonde‘s opening number has an great key change from the verses to the chorus.   The first verse is in E, with the melody ending on B, which serves as the leading tone to the new key of the chorus (C).  (Ok, enough music theory talk! No more!)

P.S.  Legally Blonde might have the record for “most key changes in a musical”.   Seriously every song has like 20.  Can you count the ones in this clip?

We also built a key change into the chorus of our song “Blue Horizon”.  Check out Natalie Weiss’ version below.

What are your favorite key changes???  Leave a link!

This entry was posted in michael kooman, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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