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[February 2019, abridged]

Note about this abridged version

This abridged version of my book “Modulation for young musicians: A, B, C, …


notation” is offered for free download to make it widely accessible to anyone interested
in classical music.

Jaime Kardontchik

February 2019

Note: This is an abridged version. The complete book may be purchased at


Amazon or your local bookstore. Its ISBN number is:

ISBN: 978-1796238846
Preface

The book is based on my previous book “Modulation in classical music for young
musicians” (April 2017). It adds at the end a new chapter on string quartets by Haydn
and Mozart. The book uses the A, B, C, D, E, F, G notation. (Another identical book
using the Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si notation is also available.)

Chapter 1 of this book explains in plain words and tones the grammar of Classical
Music. Its intended audience is everyone who is interested in music, from children to
adults. From Chapter 2 and on the audience for “Modulation for young musicians” are
teenagers attending Middle and High School and students in their first two years of
college. The grammar of classical music, as used by Bach in his Preludes and by
Haydn and Mozart in their Sonatas and string quartets, is explained using multiple
examples. The book is intended both for piano students and for students playing any
other “classical” instrument, like the violin or the clarinet. If you know what a “scale” is
and you play scales on your instrument – then you are ready to read and understand
this book.

What are my expectations from you?

The book can we used in two modes: It can be used to understand how classical music
works. The simple grammar rules of Classical Music enable us to compose from simple
tunes for one instrument to complex symphonies combining orchestras and the human
voice that we enjoy listening again and again. Understanding these rules can produce
great intellectual satisfaction and provide one with basic tools for future use in the field
of the Arts. I liken Classical Music to Classical Mechanics, where the simple rules of
Galileo and Newton, the great physicists of the 17th century, explain the world
surrounding us: from the simple movement of a pendulum, with its constant period used
to construct the first clocks, to the periodic movement of the planets around the Sun.
Knowledge of Classical Mechanics was essential to put the man on the Moon in the 20th
century. This book teaches you the rules of Classical Music directly from the works of its
great composers. Most people will use the book in this mode, and it is fine for me.

But I want more from you: I want you to become creative.

Although there is great pleasure in reading good books, no one would suggest to restrict
the teaching of a common language to the next generation to just reading and rhetoric,
learning to repeat with precise pathos the words of the great novelists and writers of
previous generations and nothing else. Oddly enough this is precisely what happens
today with the language of music: students are taught to read and excel in performance.
The element of writing or composing is missing from the music curriculum of young
musicians. There are reasons for this failure and I briefly explain them at the beginning
of Chapter 1.

The process of original writing, expressing one’s own thoughts and feelings, is complex.
No one really knows how an incoherent babbling child becomes an eloquent speaker
and writer. We just keep reading to them good stories, teaching them basic rules of
grammar on how to build good sentences, engaging them frequently to encourage them
to speak their mind and then hoping for the best.

This book does just this. Bring a pencil and paper, sit at the piano, play again the piece
by Bach, Haydn or Mozart you just learnt to play and understood how the composer
built it. Did you like a theme or phrase? Try writing a few bars with your own variations
about that theme. Play them. Do not like it? Modify your sketches until you feel that they
satisfy you, that they sound “good”. Then go to the next piece. Choose a phrase you
liked from that piece: it will become the subject of your new composition. It does not
need to be long: Just a few bars of your own will be enough. And so on. Think about
this: this is exactly the way you learned developing and expressing your thoughts in
writing in a common language at school. One good short story at a time, day after day.
Presented by your teacher or that you read from a good book. And then your
homework: a brief written composition about the story you have just listened to or read.

February 2019
Contents

Chapter 1: The theory


Abstract 9

Introduction 10

The grammar of classical music 11

1.1 – The major keys 11


th
1.2 – The 7 chord 16
1.3 – Creating expectations 19
1.4 – The minor keys 22
th
1.5 – The 7 chord for minor keys 25
th
1.6 – The 9 chord 26
1.7 – A detailed example of chords and modulations: A Haydn sonata 28
1.8 – Additional items in the toolbox of the musician 35

Chapter 2: Bach
Abstract 41

Introduction 42

2.1 – Bach – Prelude in C Major BWV 846a 42


2.2 – Bach – Prelude in C Major BWV 939 63
2.3 – Bach – Prelude in C Major BWV 924 64
2.4 – Bach – Prelude in D Minor BWV 926 69
2.5 – Bach – Prelude in D Minor BWV 875a 71
2.6 – Bach – Prelude in C Major BWV 924a 76
2.7 – Bach – Prelude in F Major BWV 927 78
2.8 – Bach – Prelude in D Major BWV 936 79
2.9 – Bach – Prelude in C Major BWV 933 80
2.10 – Bach – Prelude in D Minor BWV 935 82
2.11 – Bach – Prelude in C Minor BWV 934 84
2.12 – Bach – Prelude in D Major BWV 850a 85
Chapter 3: “Papa” Haydn
Abstract 89

Introduction 90

3.1 – Haydn – Sonata in G Major Hob XVI No 8 90


3.1.1 – 1st movement: Allegro 91
3.1.2 – 2nd movement: Minuet 96
3.1.3 – 3rd movement: Andante 98
3.1.4 – 4th movement: Allegro 99
3.2 – Haydn – Sonata in C Major Hob XVI No 15 101
3.2.1 – 1st movement: Allegro 101
3.2.2 – 2nd movement: Minuet and Trio 104
3.2.3 – 3rd movement: Air and Variations 109
3.3 – Haydn – Sonata in G Major Hob XVI No 27 110
3.3.1 – 1st movement: Allegro con brio 111
3.3.2 – 2nd movement: Minuet and Trio 119
3.3.3 – 3rd movement: Finale Presto 123
3.4 – Haydn – Sonata in D Major Hob XVI No 19 127
3.4.1 – 1st movement: Moderato 127
3.4.2 – 2nd movement: Adagio, ma non troppo 134
3.4.3 – 3rd movement: Assai allegro 140

Chapter 4: Intermezzo: scores and graphs


Abstract 143

Annotated scores versus graphs 144

Chapter 5: Mozart
Abstract 151

Introduction 152

5.1 – Mozart – Sonata in G Major K 283 152


5.1.1 – 1st movement: Allegro 152
5.1.2 – 2nd movement: Andante 157
5.1.3 – 3rd movement: Presto 160
5.2 – Mozart – Sonata in F Major K 280 168
5.2.1 – 1st movement: Allegro assai 168
5.2.2 – 2nd movement: Adagio 172
5.2.3 – 3rd movement: Presto 173
5.3 – Mozart – Sonata in Bb Major K 333 175
5.3.1 – 1st movement: Allegro 175
5.3.2 – 2nd movement: Andante cantabile 185
5.3.3 – 3rd movement: Allegretto grazioso 192

Chapter 6: Classical string quartets


Abstract 197

Introduction 198

6.1 – Haydn, string quartet No 60 Op 76 No 1 in Sol Major 199

6.2 – Mozart, string quartet No 21 K 575 in Re Major 221

Chapter 7: Composition in classical style


Abstract 239

About the author 241


Chapter 1: The theory

Abstract

What makes a collection of notes a good piece of music, something


that gets stuck in our brain? Why is it that we keep listening and
enjoying the music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven – composers
long dead two hundred years ago? What makes a piece of music
memorable? What are the rules of the grammar behind the music of
the great masters? If we can understand the rules – then we could
also teach them to kids. This chapter explains in plain words (or
tones) the grammar of classical music. The next chapters describe a
practical method that could be used by teenagers (or any adult
interested in composing good music) to learn the basics (and some
more) directly from the works of the great composers of classical
music.

© 2017 Jaime E Kardontchik. “Modulation for Young Musicians”, Chapter 1.


Introduction

What makes a collection of notes a good piece of music, something that gets stuck in
our brain? Why is it that we keep listening and enjoying the music of Bach, Mozart and
Beethoven – composers long dead two hundred years ago? What makes a piece of
music memorable? Is musical creativity an innate property – an ability that some people
have and most do not? Or can be nurtured? If so, what could be taught and how? Is
musical composition different from, say, writing a novel?

Of course, a good composer, as well as a good novelist, has something original to say,
otherwise people would not listen to him/her. But, besides the fact that one uses letters
(consonants and vowels) and the other uses tones, the process of becoming a good
composer (in writing or in tones) is similar: 1) read (or listen to) the works of good
writers (or musicians) and learn from them, 2) study the basic rules of grammar (how to
build a correct phrase and how to move from one sentence to the next) and 3)
experiment and try a lot until you break the barrier and begin producing consistently
good results.

It is a fact that we have been blessed by good writers during the last several centuries
and when we want to suggest a good reading to a young person we do not have to go
back to Cervantes or Shakespeare: there are good enough writers in the 20th century
and today to choose from. Unfortunately, this has not been the fate of the “serious”
music (the music that we hear in the concert halls).

The premise of this book is that the culprit for this failure in the field of music lies in the
second pillar: the grammar. The grammar of speech has been quite steady for the last
several centuries. Even more, if anything, it has evolved towards simplification and
unification. This has enabled generations of pedagogues to codify it in simple rules and
teach them to the next generations, creating a positive feedback that brought new good
novelists and writers to the field.

The grammar of music went in the opposite direction: it became more and more
complex, with more and more rules to include the diverging compositional caprices of
each and every new composer that became the favorite of the day. As a result, if you
open today a book on modern Harmony (Harmony is the grammar of music), you are
lost immediately in an almost infinite jargon of words difficult to comprehend and
useless to help you in your main objective: composing music or teaching a new
generation of children how to compose music (or how to speak with tones.) We will try
to restore in this chapter the broken link with the classical great composers.
The grammar of classical music
1.1 - The major keys
You are probably already familiar with scales. Figure 1.1 shows the scale of C Major. It
consists of seven tones (for convenience we have repeated the first tone at the end,
one octave higher.)

Figure 1.1: The scale of C Major

The first tone of the scale is called the ‘tonic’, in this case the tone C, and it gives its
name to the scale. This is a very peculiar way to build a scale. It was invented (or
perfected) by musicians around the 18th century as a good compromise that offered
both enough simplicity, on the one hand, and flexibility, on the other, to build (compose)
complex works of music. If we look at a keyboard, notice that there is no key between
the E and F and similarly between the B and C at the end. The ‘distance’ between them
is a minimum. This distance is called a ‘semitone’ or ‘half-tone’. The distance between
all other consecutive notes in the scale is double: 2 semitones or, simply a ‘whole tone’.
For instance, the distance between the D and the E is 2 semitones, because looking at
the keyboard we see that between them there is another note (a black key in this case).

Since there are 12 tones in an octave (7 white keys plus 5 black keys), we can build 12
major scales in the same way keeping the same distance between tones as in the scale
of C Major. For instance, Figure 1.2 shows the scale of D Major:

Figure 1.2: The scale of D Major

Notice that we have kept the same relative distances between successive tones. For
instance, the distance between the 3rd and 4th tone (F# and G, respectively) is again
one semitone, as it was in the scale of C Major. If you are going to write a long piece
based on the scale of D Major (or, musicians will say: based on the D Major key) adding
a sharp sign every time that an F or a C appear becomes a tedious matter, so we just
put the sharps signs at the beginning of the staff at their correct position, a notation
meaning that, from now on, any time you see an F or a C in the score we really mean
F# and C#, respectively. Figure 1.3 shows the same scale in D Major using this short-
hand style:

Figure 1.3: The scale of D Major in short-hand notation

Notice the apparent similarity of the D Major scale (compared to the reference C Major
scale) when one moves the sharps to the beginning of the staff. Using this shorthand
notation (putting the sharp – or flat - signs at the beginning of the staff), it is easy to
write down the 12 possible Major scales: Each one begins with a different tone (one of
the 12 possible tones) and is modeled on the C Major scale. They are all shown in
Figure 1.4 and Figure 1.5 and in an order that has become ‘standard’ in music: In Figure
1.4, we begin with the C tone (C Major scale) and we progress in jumps of 5ths adding
one sharp at a time to get the scales of G Major, D Major, …, C# Major. The scale of C#
Major has 7 sharps. We can also go back in 5th intervals and begin adding flats instead
of sharps. In this case we get the scales of F Major, Bb Major, Eb Major and Ab Major,
as shown in Figure1.5.

Fig 1.4a: (from top to bottom): Major scales in C, G, D, A


Figure 1.4b: (from top to bottom): Major scales in E, B, F# and C#

Figure 1.5: (from top to bottom): Major scales in F, Bb, Eb and Ab

But why stop here? Why not move another 5th and add another flat to get the Db
Major? But we already created 12 scales based on the 12 keys of the keyboard. It does
not seem logical that we would get a ‘new’ different 13th Major scale. And as we will see
immediately, this intuition is correct. Figure 1.6 (top) shows this ‘new’ scale in Db Major.
Figure 1.6 (bottom) shows the previously created scale in C# Major.

Figure 1.6: top: the new scale in Db Major. Bottom: the scale in C# Major

If we compare tone by tone these two scales, there is no difference whatsoever


between them. For example, the first tone in the scale of Db Major is Db. The first tone
in the scale of C# Major is C#. But C# and Db are one and the same key in the
keyboard! A similar conclusion we reach comparing all the other tones in these two
scales. One could say that using 7 sharps to create the scale of C# Major is more
clumsy and difficult to read than using only 5 flats to create the scale of Db Major. This
is why some musicians prefer to compose in the key of Db Major instead of the key of
C# Major. It is a matter of individual choice and taste.

Musicians have summarized in a graphic way, called the “Circle of Fifths”, the property
that we fall back into an existing scale if we try to add more flats. The “Circle of Fifths” is
shown in Figure 1.7.
Figure 1.7: The Circle of Fifths for the Major Keys

Notice that if we jump clockwise around the circle, adding a flat after the key of Ab Major
in order to get the Db Major key, we “fall” instead into the key of C# Major: we do not get
a new scale neither we go “off a cliff”. Similarly, if we jump counterclockwise by a 5th
and add a sharp after the key of C# Major, the new key, G# Major, happens to be
identical to the existent key of Ab Major.

There is nothing magical or divine in this Circle of Fifths. It is just a nice diagram that
summarizes how to build 12 similar Major scales based on the scale of C Major. Again,
by ‘similar’ we mean that the intervals between successive notes in the scales are
similar to the corresponding intervals in the scale of C Major. Why jump by 5ths? Why
not use any other interval for the jump? Why not begin with the scale of C Major and
jump only a 2nd interval to begin a scale in D Major adding only one sharp? Because it
won’t work: you will not get a new scale similar to the C Major scale. If you want to get
all the 12 major scales by adding each time just only one sharp (or, if you decide
instead to go the other way and add instead flats), the only way to obtain similar scales
– with similar intervals between their notes - is to go in jumps of fifths.

One could now begin composing music based on a single key. For instance, Figure 1.8
shows the first sentence of Mozart’s piano sonata in C Major.
Figure 1.8: Mozart piano sonata in C Major, K 545, 1st movement

If you ever played the piano you surely played this sonata. What do we mean when we
say that a piece of music is written in the key of C Major? Simply: that the melody (and
its accompaniment) uses only the seven tones found in the scale of C Major. Figure 1.9
shows another example, this time in G Major, from Beethoven’s piano sonata Op 49 No
2, which, most probably you played as well.

Figure 1.9: Beethoven piano sonata Op 49 No 2, 2nd movement

Why is it so important to build a piece of music on a single key? What is wrong if we


begin a melody with a few tones belonging to the scale of C Major, continue it with
several tones belonging to another key, say, E Major and then finalize the melody by
adding some tones belonging to yet another key, say, Bb Major? Experience tells us
that it just does not sound nice: the melody line begins to fade and we get instead
dissonances, too many. A melody is like a sentence in a common language. If you want
people to be able to follow you when you speak, you have to build your sentences
correctly, following the grammar of speech. Similarly, if you want people to listen to a
melody, it has to have a good structure. In music, it usually means having the melody
written in one key (In these examples and in what follows, we do not differentiate
between the melody proper, usually written in the treble staff, and its accompaniment,
usually appearing in the bass staff).

1.2 - The 7th chord


A melody is like a sentence in common language. What if we want to make something
more complex, like a speech? How, do we combine many sentences? How do we avoid
becoming repetitious and dull? Well, if we always talk in the seven notes of C Major we
will end up losing the attention of our audience. In classical music this is done in two
interrelated ways: First, we built an expectation that something is going to happen. And
then we move to another key to continue our story. In music this is called “modulation”.

We create the expectation that something is going to happen by using the 7th chord.
Each major key has a combination of four tones that is unique to the key and you will
not find in other keys. Before entering into the explanation of the feeling of expectation,
let us first explain how to build this chord. We will explain how to build this chord in the
key of C Major. The procedure of building the 7th chords in the other keys is exactly the
same. The simplest explanation of how to define (or build) this chord is graphical. Figure
1.10 shows again the scale of C Major with some other continuation tones in the next
octave.

Figure 1.10: how to build the 7th chord in the C Major key

The 7th chord is built by choosing the 5th tone of the scale (in this case the G) and piling
up on top of it three tones selected by skipping each time one tone of the scale. The
bottom tone of the chord, in this case G, is called the ‘root’ of the chord. The resulting
chord is shown in Figure 1.11.

Figure 1.11: the 7th chord of the C Major key

We call the chord as the ‘7th chord’ because if we align all the sounds of the scale
between the root of the chord (the G in this case) and its top (the F) we get 7 tones (see
Figure 1.12)

Figure 1.12: There are 7 tones between the root of the chord (G) and its top tone (F)

For the same reason, we call the B tone ‘the 3rd of the chord’, or simply ‘the 3rd’, we call
the D tone ‘the 5th of the chord’, or simply ‘the 5th’ and – although it might sound
confusing – we also call the F tone ‘the 7th of the chord’, or simply ‘the 7th’ (this may be
confusing at first look, because the whole chord is called the ‘7th chord’, but depending
on the context in which it is used it will be clear when we refer to ‘the 7th’ as the tone on
top of the chord or ‘the 7th’ as the complete chord itself).

The same procedure is used to build the 7th chord in all the other keys. Let us take, for
example, the key of E Major. Figure 1.13 shows the scale of E Major with some added
tones in the second octave:

Figure 1.13: How to build the 7th chord in the key of E Major

Figure 1.14 shows the resulting 7th chord in the key of E Major.

Figure 1.14: the 7th chord in the E Major key

The 7th chord is unique to a key. Why do we say this? Let us take, for example, the 7th
chord of the C Major key (Figure 1.11, repeated here to have it at hand):

Figure 1.11: the 7th chord of the C Major key

Why do we say that this chord is unique to the key of C Major? Well, on one hand it has
an F without a sharp: hence this chord cannot belong to any Major key that has sharps.
Notice that all the keys that have sharps (G Major, D Major, etc.) include at least the F#
in their scales. Hence, the F without a sharp cannot belong to any of these keys. On the
other hand, this chord also includes a B: this rules out all the keys that have flats (F, Bb,
Eb and Ab), since all of them use the B flat (‘Bb’) tone instead of the B. In summary, you
can never see this chord in any other Major key, except the key of C Major.

Once we defined how to build the 7th chord in the key of C Major it is easy to write down
the 7th chord in all the other keys. Figure 1.15 shows, for example, the 7th chords in the
keys of a Bb, F, C, G and D Major.
Figure 1.15: The 7th chords in the keys of Bb, F, C, G and D Major

Since the 7th chords will be used to move (‘modulate’) from one key to another within
the same piece, it is better this time to put them together under one key, with the sharps
and flats included as necessary, so you get used to their appearance. This is shown in
Figure 1.16.

Figure 1.16: The 7th chords of the Bb, F, C, G and D keys

We showed before that the 7th chord in the key of C cannot appear in any other key.
The same is true for all the other 7th chords. For instance, let us look at the 7th chord of
D Major (the last chord in Figure 1.15 or 1.16). It has a C# tone. Hence, we can rule out
all the keys with flats and also the keys of C and G that do not have a C# tone in their
scales. What about the other keys that have sharps, the keys of D, A, E, B, F# and C# ?
Well, we also see that this chord has a G tone: This rules out the keys of A, E, B, F#
and C# that have a G# tone in their scales. Hence, the only key where this 7th chord fits
is the key of D Major.

Notice that when trying to find out to which key a 7th chord belongs to, we only looked at
its 3rd and 7th tones. So, if we really are looking for what is the simplest chord that can
tell us in what key we are (or towards which key we want to move if we want to
modulate to another key in the middle of a piece), we really do not need a chord
consisting of 4 tones: 2 tones are enough: the 3rd and 7th tones of the 7th chord. The 3rd
and 7th tones of the 7th chord are the most important tones of this chord. They tell us in
which key we are or, if we wish to continue the piece in another key, they can be used
as indicators of which direction are we heading to.

1.3 - Creating expectations


So, we created a melody and played it in the key of C Major. We liked it and we would
like to retell it to our listeners in a slightly different way. If we tell it again in the same key
it might sound repetitive and the attention of the listeners might recede. Hence, we
decide to retell it in the key of G Major. How do we move (‘modulate’) from our first
sentence written in the key of C Major to our next sentence written in the key of G
Major? We first create the expectation that something is going to happen by introducing
something unexpected, something that does not belong to the previous sentence, at
least one tone that does not belong to the original key of C Major. But we do not only
want to suggest that change is coming but also point out in which direction we are going
to go. Classical musicians found – from their experience – that the best way to achieve
these two goals is by using the 7th chord of the new key, in this case the G Major. This
chord has an F# note, that clearly does not belong to the original C Major key. The ear
(and the brain) is a very sensitive device and this F# - that does not belong to the
hitherto discourse - will immediately grab the attention of the listener. And by using all
the four tones of the 7th chord, that are all tones that belong to the G Major key, it will
also signal the direction we are going to, providing a smooth transition to the new key.
Bach shows us the way in, perhaps, his most famous and popular piece: the first
prelude in the first book of his Well-Tempered Clavier (see Figure 1.17).

Figure 1.17: Bach, Well Tempered Clavier, book 1, Prelude 1


The piece begins in the key of C Major (we do not see any sharp or flat at the beginning
of the staff and all the notes in the first few bars clearly belong to the C Major key.) But
in bar 6 unexpectedly an F# tone appears, repeated four times, once in every beat of
the bar. The F# tone clearly does not belong to the C Major key. But where is the 7th
chord? Well, we usually do not play all the four tones of the chord at the same time: it
would be too rude for such a delicate melody. We play them, instead, one after another
(this is called an “arpeggio”). If you look at the first beat in bar 6 (include both the treble
and the bass staff) you will find the four tones of the 7th chord in the key of G Major.
They do not have to be in the same order as the chord, D – F# – A – C, from root to top.
In a piece they are usually not. In our case, the C appears first (in the bass) followed by
the D, F# and A in the treble staff. To be sure that the listener does not miss it, Bach
repeats the 7th chord in the second, third and fourth beats in the same bar. And then, in
bar 7 we are already in the new key, the key of G Major. And if you look carefully at bar
7 it is almost a repetition of the 1st bar of the piece, transposed from C Major to G Major.
That is, it is a retelling of the story with slight nuanced changes, to avoid making it
repetitive, but at the same time, close enough to the original melody to keep intact the
core of the story the composer wanted to convey.
1.4 - The minor keys
We can create a lot of good music using the twelve major keys and their respective 7th
chords. However, if we would like to convey also dark feelings and extreme emotions
or, quite simply, noble and elevated feelings, writing pieces exclusively in the Major
keys will not do the job: Melodies written in the Major keys are too “bright”. Hence,
classical musicians also added 12 minor keys. The reference minor key – from which all
the other minor keys are derived – is the A minor key, whose scale is shown in Figure
1.18.

Figure 1.18: The A minor scale

This scale looks initially similar to the scale in C Major, except that it has a G# instead of
a G, but the relative distances between successive tones are completely different. In the
C Major key we had a relative distance of one semitone between the 3rd and 4th tones
and between the 7th and 8th tones (the last being the repetition of the tonic tone), with all
the other distances being whole tones. Here, in the A minor scale, the semitone
distances are between the 2nd the 3rd tones, between the 5th and 6th tones and we have
an additional semitone distance between the 7th and 8th tones. Furthermore, between
the 6th and 7th tones (F and G#) the distance is three semitones! Quite a different
creature compared to the C Major scale. If you play this scale you will notice
immediately that it sounds completely different from the C Major scale.

All the other minor scales are obtained – similar to the Major keys – by jumping in
intervals of 5th in one direction to add sharps or in the opposite direction to add flats.
The results are shown in Figure 1.19 for the sharp keys and in Figure 1.20 for the flat
keys.
Figure 1.19: The minor scales in A, E, B, F#, C#, G#, D# and A#.

A cross-like sign before a tone, like xG in the last scale in A# minor, means technically a
double sharp: xG =G##. But G## = A. One could have just written an A instead of xG.
But this would have destroyed – at least formally – the way we define and build the
scale in a key, moving one tone after the other without skipping any tone. Furthermore,
if a composer is writing a melody in the key of A# minor, he would prefer to write down
the tone as xG, instead of A, because it clearly indicates then to the reader the key he is
using in his piece. An A tone in the written score would appear as a foreign tone to the
key of A# minor (although it is not, and the ear does not care: for the ear an A and a xG
are the same)

Figure 1.20: the minor scales in D, G, C and F minor

A new sign appears in the 7th tone of the scales of C and F minor: it is not a sharp
neither a flat. It is called a “natural”. The “natural” before a note means: just play the
plain tone, in this case B (for the scale of C minor) or E (for the scale of F minor). As it
was the case for the Major keys, there are only 12 minor keys. For instance, if we try to
create a new minor key by jumping another 5th and adding a 5th flat, we obtain the scale
Bb minor:

Figure 1.21: the Bb minor scale

But this Bb minor scale is identical tone-by-tone to the scale of A# minor (that uses
seven sharps). As before, it is a matter of individual choice, whether to use the Bb minor
key (with only five flats) or the A# minor key (with seven sharps). The complete set of
Major and minor scales can be summarized in the generalized Circle of Fifths for these
scales, shown in Figure 1.22.
Figure 1.22: The Circle of Fifths including both the Major and minor keys. Major keys
are drawn in full lines and minor keys are drawn in broken lines.. Major keys are
indicated using uppercase letters, minor keys use lowercase letters. Major and minor
keys that share the same number of accidentals (sharp or flats) are abutted together.

1.5 – The 7th chord for minor keys


The 7th chords for the minor keys are defined and built in the same way that they were
defined for the Major keys. For instance, let us find the 7th chord of the C minor key that
has three flats. We repeat below, in Figure 1.23, the scale of C minor with some added
notes in the next octave:

Figure 1.23: The scale of C minor with some added notes in the next octave
As before we select the 5th tone of the scale (in this case a G) as the root of the chord
and we select the three tones marked in Figure 1.23 above the root, skipping each time
one tone of the scale. We end up with the chord shown in Figure 1.24:

Figure 1.24: the 7th chord for the key of C minor

But this chord is identical to the 7th chord of the key of C Major! If we continue
building all the 7th chords for the minor keys we end up with the same result: there are
no new 7th chords: the C Major key (that has no flats nor sharps) and the C minor key
(that has three flats) share the same 7th chord. Similarly, the G Major key (that has one
sharp) and the G minor key (that has two flats) share the same 7th chord, and so on.
Keys that have the same tonic tone share the same 7th chord, irrespective of
whether they are Major or minor.

What can we do if we are in the middle of a piece of music and we want to modulate,
say, from the key of D Major to the key of D minor? Is there a way to provide a clue to
the listener that we are going to switch from a Major key to a minor key that share the
same tonic (or the opposite, from a minor key to a Major key)? Yes, there is: the 9th
chord.

1.6 - The 9th chord


The 9th chord is built (or defined) in the same way we built the 7th chord: we continue
adding tones to the scale in the next octave. For example, in the key of C Major the
expanded scale is shown in Figure 1.25.

Figure 1.25: The expanded scale of C Major with the tones selected for the 9th chord
Figure 1.26 shows the 9th chord in the key of C major:

Figure 1.26: the 9th chord in C Major

We do now the same for the key of C minor. Figure 1.27 shows the expanded scale of
C minor:

Figure 1.27: The expanded scale of C minor with the tones selected for the 9th chord

Figure 1.28 shows the corresponding 9th chord using the selected tones:

Figure 1.28: the 9th chord in C minor

Notice that for both chords we use only tones that are available in their respective
scales. Hence, in the key of C Major the top tone is a natural A, whereas in the key of C
minor the top tone is an A flat. Hence, major and minor keys with the same name (same
tonic tone) can be differentiated by their 9th chords.

The 9th chords are unique and can be used to identify any key, Major or minor. Using
the same analysis we did before for the 7th chords, the 3rd and 7th tones of the chord
eliminate all the keys except two, in this case the C Major and C minor. The 9th tone of
the chord serves to differentiate between the C Major and the C minor keys. The 3rd, 7th
and 9th tones are the most important tones of the 9th chord and together they uniquely
define the key, Major or minor.

7th and 9th chords are the chords used to modulate, to transition, from one key to
another during the course of a piece of music. They provide both the anticipation that
something is going to happen and also the clearest sense of direction where the music
is headed to.
It will be instructive to redraw the Circle of Fifths so that instead of abutting together a
Major and minor key that share the same accidentals (sharp or flats), as was done
previously in Figure 1.22, we abut instead together keys that share the same 7th chords.
This is shown in Figure 1.29.

Figure 1.29: The Circle of Fifths with all the Major and minor keys. Major and minor keys
that share the same 7th chord are abutted together.

This figure shows the expected result that, for example, the “A Major” key and the “a
minor” key are abutted together (since they share the same 7th chord.) However, at the
bottom of the Circle we get three unexpected results: the letters of the abutted chords
do not match. For example, the “Eb Major” key is abutted to the “d# minor” key. The
puzzle is solved if we remember that Eb and D# are one and the same tone: they are
just two different names for the same key in the keyboard. An indeed, although the 7th
chords of the “Eb Major” key and the “d# minor” key might appear completely different
(in the first chord you will see tones with flats and in the second chord you will see tones
with sharps) the two chords are identical. Musicians have a name for this: the two
chords are ‘enharmonic’.

1.7 – A detailed example of chords and modulations: A Haydn sonata


Now that we know all the keys, Major and minor, and all the 7th and 9th chords, let us
look at a simple example of how Haydn used these tools to generate pleasant and
attractive music. Figure 1.30 shows the beginning of a Haydn’s Sonata.
Figure 1.30: Haydn Sonata in E minor, Hob XVI No 34, 1st movement

Before analyzing it, I would suggest that you play it at the piano (or listen to it on the
web) to get immediately the feeling of this sonata.

Immediately, at the beginning of the first bar Haydn writes:

Figure 1.31a: bar 1 (part)

That is, Haydn includes a F# in the key as a global indication (every F appearing in the
piece should be played as F#) and plays in the bass the tonic chord of the E minor key
(see Fig 1.31b):
Figure 1.31b: tonic cord in the E minor key

It does not matter whether all the tones of this chord are played together or one after the
other (in “arpeggio” form): the brain ‘processes’ arpeggios and chords in a similar way,
in the sense that they both ‘center’ the brain in the key of E minor. Putting this chord at
the beginning of the piece is a direct hint to the listener that the piece will be in the E
minor key. Just play it and you will get immediately the feeling that you are in the key of
E minor. But … you could find the tones E, G and B in other keys too. For example,
these tones are also part of the scale of C Major. To clarify the matter Haydn
immediately follows with:

Figure 1.31c: end of bar 1 and beginning of bar 2

Remember what the 7th chord of E minor looks like:

Figure 1.31d: the 7th chord of E minor

Hence, Haydn writes down in the last chord of bar 1 the 3rd and 7th tones of the 7th
chord of E minor (D# and A), the most important tones of the 7th chord, to leave no
doubt that we are indeed in the key of E minor. We emphasized before that the 7th
chords are used to provide the means to move from one key to another. But they also
have another important function: they are used to reinforce the present key. This is the
function that the chord plays in bar 1.

Haydn finishes the task by “resolving” this chord into the tonic chord of E minor again at
the beginning of bar 2. The 7th and 9th chords create “expectations”. You can “feel” this
when you hear them. The brain – either by Nature or by learning – wants these
expectations to be “resolved” or come to a rest. The sensation of rest is achieved when
these chords are followed by the tonic chord of the key.

Haydn continues developing the piece in the key of E minor until suddenly in bar 6 a
foreign tone appears in the bass: A#:

Fig 1.31e: bar 6

Usually, in classical music the modulations are between “neighboring” keys, keys that
have almost the same number of flats and sharps and, therefore, whose scales share a
large number of tones. Transitions to faraway keys are seldom encountered. This has to
do with minimizing dissonances that might be unpleasant to the ear during the transition
from one key to the next. Looking at the 7th and 9th chords of the neighboring key of B
minor:

Figure 1.31f: 7th and 9th chords of B minor

We see that the A# in the bass together with the E and G in the treble (see bar 6, at the
end of the first beat) are just the 3rd, 7th and 9th tones of the 9th chord. We also see in
Haydn’s score that the 9th chord ‘resolves’ into the tonic chord of B … Major!

Figure 1.31g: the tonic chord in the B Major key


Hence, bar 6 marks the modulation from E minor to B Major. Classical composers
sometimes liked to surprise their listeners by creating the expectation that they were
going to move to a minor key and then suddenly ending up, or ‘resolving’ in the Major
key with the same tonic tone. Or, perhaps, it was just the spirit of the time to end or
‘resolve’ into a ‘positive’ bright mood. Bars 7 and 8 are a repetition of bar 6, but with
‘spice’ added to it: bar 7 begins with an A natural, creating the expectation in the listener
that we are going back to the original key of E minor. But no! The 9th chord of B minor
brings us back immediately to B minor. And the same happens in bar 8.

Bar 9 begins suddenly again in the key of E minor: it is a repetition of bar 1.

Fig 1.31h: bar 9

Is it permissible to jump suddenly from the previous key of B Major back again to E
minor without a 7th chord enabling the transition? Well, if this creates a nice artistic
effect, why not? It surely does. However, Haydn does not break the grammar rules.
Between the previous section ending in B Major and the new section in E minor he adds
a silence sign with an added fermata (the fermata is the semicircle with a point in its
center added on top of the silence sign). The ‘fermata’ means: stop following the
metronome and take a deep pause. It is like breaking the piece. Hence, what follows is
technically a separate piece. A separate piece may begin in any key.

The piece continues a few bars in E minor until in bar 11 we find again a foreign sound:
a G#.

Fig 1.31i: bar 11 and beginning of bar 12


Haydn is also kind enough to emphasize that the following D note is natural, which
technically speaking is not necessary: a pianist would play a D natural with or without
that sign, since the piece was defined such that only the F notes appearing on it should
be sharp. However, by emphasizing that the D note is natural, Haydn is telling us that
he is abandoning the E minor key: the scale of E minor does have a D#. Hence, we are
given two clues that we are abandoning the E minor key: a G# and a natural D.

Looking for a 7th chord of a neighboring key we find one that meets these requirements:
it is the 7th chord of the A minor key:

Figure 1.31j: 7th chord of A minor

Well, this time Haydn has used all the four tones of the 7th chord: the tones of the two
last chords in the treble staff, when put together, form the complete 7th chord in A minor.
And they ‘resolve’ correctly into the tonic chord of A minor in the next bar:

Figure 1.31k: The tonic chord in A minor

But not for long! After entering the A minor in bar 12 with the tonic chord in A minor, he
announces at the end of the same bar that he is transitioning to a new key: a natural G
appears:

Figure 1.31l: bar 12 (and beginning of bar 13)


The natural G indicates that we are abandoning the A minor key. Another indication
appears at the beginning of the next bar (bar 13) where we see both in the treble and
the bass an F#, that clearly does not belong to the A minor key (Remember that a
global # sign was assigned to F at the beginning of the piece, so when we see an F in
the piece you should interpret it as an F#). Are we going back to the E minor key? No,
because in this key the D should be D# and we see clearly in bar 13 a lot of natural D
notes. So, towards which key is Haydn moving? The answer is provided in bar 13 itself:

Figure 1.31m: bar 13 and beginning of bar 14

The complete bar 13 is just a large and expanded implementation of the 7th chord of the
key of G Major. All the notes in bar 13 belong to the 7th chord of G Major:

Figure 1.31n: 7th chord of G Major

And indeed it resolves correctly in the next bar (bar 14) with the tonic chord of G Major:

Figure 1.31o: tonic chord in G Major

The above analysis shows you two things: a) how to read a piece of classical music to
understand how Haydn handled the movement from one key to the next, or, from one
sentence to the next: This could give you some ideas on how to compose your own next
piece of music; and b) that you may end up getting lost with so many 7th and 9th chords
and changes of keys and fail to see the structure of the whole piece. The next chapter
will show you that there is another way to do this analysis that is both fast, interesting
and gives you a graphical picture of the overall architecture of the piece, a picture of the
forest that is lost here in the details of the trees.
1.8 – Additional items in the toolbox of the musician
Part of the toolbox of a musician is to create not only expectations but also surprises.
So, occasionally you will find in a score, say, a 9th chord of the D minor key followed by
a passage in the D Major key instead. The musician does not have to tell the listener
what is exactly what is going to happen, either a transition to a Major or a minor key. Or,
perhaps, even no transition at all.

Occasionally, you are in a minor key and in a brief passage you want to go ‘from here to
there’ using a fragment of the minor scale that includes the seventh tone of the scale.
For instance, you are in the A minor key and would like to make a gradual descent from
A to E:

Figure 1.32a: gradual descent in the A minor key using a fragment of the scale

The transition from G# to F has a 3 semitone step and if you play it at the piano (or any
other instrument) you will find that it raises the feeling of being too “rough”, especially if
your piece is more of a “melodic” character. In this case you can eliminate the edgy
feeling by deleting the sharp, as shown in Figure 1.32b:

Figure 1.32b: melodic descent from A to E in the A minor key.

This does not mean that you moved to another key (say, C Major or F Major): It is just a
short (modified) fragment of the minor scale that does not change the key. You are still
in A minor, and if you would like to transition to another key you will have to use
something more effective: the 7th or 9th chord of the new key. As you can imagine, there
is also a short “melodic” ascent from E to A that eliminates the rough edges of the G#:

Figure 1.32c: melodic ascent from E to A in the A minor key


But this is quite less often found in the works of the classical composers. Take, for
example, the beginning of the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s “Pathetique” sonata:

Figure 1.33a: 3rd movement of Beethoven’s piano sonata No 8 Op 13; bars 1-11
Figure 1.33b: 3rd movement of Beethoven’s piano sonata No 8 Op 13; bars 12-17

The whole section is in the C minor key. However, in the 2nd half of bar 6 you find a
foreign note: F#. A closer look shows that we have here a strange looking chord:

Figure 1.34: chord in 2nd half of bar 6

We will return to this chord in the next chapter, after we introduce the Neapolitan chord.
When you hear this sonata you feel at this moment an expectation that something is
going to happen. However, this expectation evaporates in the next bar that returns to
the main key of C minor. Even a more dramatic moment appears in the second half of
bar 12, where we have two strongly accentuated tones that do not belong to the key of
C minor: an E natural in the bass and a B flat in the treble.
Figure 1.35: bars 12 and 13

Beethoven inserted here a 7th chord in the key of F minor

Figure 1.36: 7th chord in the key of F minor

You feel the intensity, as you hear the piece, as if Beethoven is trying to move a
mountain. However, no key change follows and the intensity dissipates in bar 13 in a
subdued “melodic” scale descent in C minor, like a sign of resignation to an unknown
tragic fate. Beethoven wrote this piece in 1798, at the age of 27, around the time when
the first signs of his deafness appeared.

Oftentimes when you read a score you find suddenly tones that do not belong to the
key, but they are obviously not part of any 7th or 9th chord either and they do not lead to
any key modulation. For instance, take the following beginning from a sonata by Mozart:

Figure 1.37: first bars of Mozart’s piano sonata in F Major K 547a

At the end of the second bar we find a natural B, suggesting that we are going to leave
the F Major key, but “nothing” happens next: we are back to F Major as strongly hinted
by the tonic chord in F Major in the bass at the beginning of bar 3. In bar 3 Mozart
restores the sound to B flat, as it should be, but immediately adds a G# tone that clearly
does not belong to the F Major scale, but he still remains in the same key of F Major.
Nothing would have happened if Mozart would have written the beginning of the sonata
as follows, without the foreign tones:

Figure 1.38: modified Mozart’s sonata without the foreign tones

If you play the modified version, it also sounds “good”. However, Mozart’s original
sounds better. What happens? Why Mozart decided to write that way, with the foreign
tones? What does the natural B achieve in bar 2? If we listen carefully we might find
that it creates some “expectation” that something is going to happen. Perhaps if we take
a second look at the six semiquavers at the end of bar 2:

Figure 1.39: six semiquavers at the end of bar 2 with the foreign B natural tone

It would appear that we have here a repeated tone (C) that – together with the strong
accompaniment in the bass – completes the tonic triad in F Major. If the function of this
repeated tone is just to emphasize the key, what is left from these six semiquavers
when we extract out the C tone is this:

Figure 1.40: bar 2, the six semiquavers without the repetitive C

This is just a broken 7th chord of C Major (the root G is missing). However, if you hear
again the original version of Mozart it seems to create some expectation that something
is going to happen, we are going to transition to something else, perhaps to C Major
(which finally does not). This adds ‘spice’ and interest to the music.

What about the six semiquavers in bar 3?


Figure 1.41: six semiquavers in bar 3 with the foreign G# tone

Again, we have a repetitive tone (A) that – together with the tones in the bass
emphasizes the tonic chord of F Major. Here, the G# (together with the Bb) eliminates
the sensation of repetitiveness to the ear of the A tone by adding some ornamentation,
or slight movement, around this A tone. And if you compare the original version with the
modified one, one can only say that Mozart knew what he was doing: It just sounds
better.

At the risk of trying to figure out what was going on in Mozart’s brain when he sat down
to write this sonata, the following is perhaps the skeleton that went through his mind:

Figure 1.42a: what Mozart had in mind

This can be summarized simply as three big tonic chords telling the unaware listener
that he was going to hear a piece in the key of F Major:

Figure 1.42b: what Mozart had in mind


Chapter 7: Composition in classical style

Abstract

This chapter of the book will be written by you. Till now you were on
the receiving side, learning the grammar of classical music and
learning from Bach, Haydn and Mozart how this grammar could be
used to create beautiful works of art. But your experience will not be
complete until you yourself will try to be on the other side, the
creative side. Remember when you learned a spoken language: In
Elementary School, after you learned the rudiments of reading and
writing, you were asked to come with something of your own, to write
a few sentences about simple subjects. Later in Middle School these
short sentences evolved into more elaborated one-page
compositions and finally, in High School, you were asked to write
complete essays about complex subjects. The same process
happens with the language of music. Do not despair trying to invent
first beautiful ‘melodies’ – they will come by themselves and when
you least expect it: it is called “inspiration” and there is little you can
do to try to be inspired. However, when the ‘inspiration’ suddenly
comes from nowhere, you should be prepared to write it down on the
spot with all the added 7th and 9th chords and modulations. In simple
words, you cannot write an essay, if you did not gain experience
writing first many short compositions, and before this, even shorter
ones: two-three brief sentences with a simple motif. Writing a simple
and unassuming motif to begin with is less complicated than one can
think and it takes only a couple of seconds. I will give you one:

Without further ado, sit at the piano with a notebook and pencil at
hand and begin writing music in classical style. No matter which style
you will use later in your life, knowing to write in classical style will
always help you.

© 2019 Jaime E Kardontchik. “Modulation for Young Musicians”, Chapter 7


About the Author

I previously published three books on Modulation. The first was “Modulation in


Classical Music”. It was written in 2016 and can be downloaded for free from the
IMSLP website. The book is in a format of a “research dissertation”, trying to cover
everything, from piano works to string quartets. Its last chapter (“Chapter 4”) explains
the computer code used to generate the modulation graphs of all the books.

The second book I wrote was “Modulation in Classical Music for Young Musicians”.
I published it in 2017 and can be purchased from Amazon or from your local bookstore.
It is directed to a young audience, teenagers attending Middle or High school. You will
find here a gradual step-by-step teaching of the grammar of classical music, with many
examples taken from works by Bach, Haydn and Mozart.

The third book I wrote was “Modulation in Beethoven’s sonatas”. I published it in


2018. The basic requirement to read this book is technical and artistic maturity. If you
are already playing Bach, Haydn and Mozart, this book is for you.

Before writing these three books on Music, I was designing integrated circuits for high-
speed communications and as an aside hobby I was reading books on quantum physics
and writing papers on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). My interest in music arose
when my laptop became insufficient in speed and memory to simulate some complex
systems in CFD. Looking for another area where my limited personal computer could be
of use I ran into the problem of how the brain could create music. Being by education a
physicist, it was quite natural to try the experiment on myself and see if I could create
some music. The result was “Short pieces for young pianists”, which included also a
simple Sonata in the style of Beethoven, which I wrote during October-November 2015.
You can download the scores and listen to a recording of the pieces at the IMSLP
website.

I point this not to brag about it, but to make the point that if I could compose
reasonable music, then everyone who plays a classical instrument could do it. It
is just a question of willing and determination.

How these three books on Music came about? Literature and Music took different paths
at the beginning of the 20th century. The grammar of speech has been quite steady for
the last several centuries. Even more, if anything, it has evolved towards simplification
and unification. This has enabled generations of pedagogues to codify it in simple rules
and teach them to the next generations, creating a positive feedback that brought new
good novelists and writers to the field. As a result, if you want to suggest a good reading
to a young person you do not have to go back to Cervantes or Shakespeare: there are
good enough writers in the 20th century to choose from.

You will be in a difficult spot trying to point out to a teenager works of ‘serious music’ of
the 20th century worth listening to. ‘Serious music’ took a wrong turn at the beginning of
the 20th century. The grammar of music went in the opposite, even extreme, direction:
the old grammar was discarded and new ones were built from scratch. As a result, if
you open today a book on modern Harmony (Harmony is the grammar of music) you
are lost in an almost infinite potpourri of rules and words difficult to comprehend and
useless to help you in your main objective: composing music or teaching a new
generation of children how to compose music (or how to speak with tones.)

Much of the ‘new music’ is a type of algorithmic music, music that one could create
sitting at a desk and writing computer code. This might satisfy the sense of beauty of a
machine endowed with artificial intelligence. However, human beings have a different
sense of what beauty is. This human sense of beauty was developed during thousands
of years of evolution. It is imprinted in the human brain in ways we do not understand
yet.

My books try to restore the broken link with the classical great composers. Everyone
learns how to write a text message and a one-page “Curriculum Vitae”. A few become
later great novelists and writers. By analogy, I reasoned that if the young generation
could receive a good education in the grammar of classical music and how the classical
composers used it when they created their works, then they could be encouraged to
embark into the next natural step: not just to enjoy listening and playing their music, but
to be also creative and begin writing simple music compositions. There is no essential
difference between learning how to write in a common language and how to write
music. And – as in any other field of the arts – a few of them could become great artists
and composers of good music, music that satisfies the human sense of beauty.

The author is a Physicist (PhD in Physics) and Engineer in the Silicon Valley, California.
In his free time he enjoys reading books and – sometimes – playing the piano.

February 2019