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This video is an introduction to modulations and key changes. We explore many examples of modulations you’ve probably heard before, some which are direct transpositions up from their original key, and others that are more complex.
Key changes can be as simple or as difficult as you want them to be. At their heart, they make things sound different, so it can be an effective trick for extending the usability of a section to prevent it being bland, or to brighten it up or darken it by lifting it up or down respectively.

The following lessons are HIGHLY recommended if you are confused by anything in this video.

Writing in Major Keys:
Writing in Minor Keys:
The Dominant Chord and Secondary Dominant Chords:
Borrowed Chords:

Annoying Enharmonic footnote- In this video I refer to the keys of G# major and C# major which are theoretical keys. If I were to write this music out, I would certainly choose a key signature like Ab major and Db major, since double sharps (and B sharps) are a pain for me.
However, when referring to a key, the context is important- when we are transposing up from C a half step, we are literally sharping everything in the key of C, and it is helpful to think of that as C# Major. It is not, in my opinion, helpful to NOTATE it like that, which is why I included the key signatures of traditional keys and not the goofy ones with double sharps and what not. I’m only writing this because I know that by saying the words “G# Major” I’m going to receive an influx of comments saying that G# major is not a key, and if you decide to comment on me being wrong for that I’m going to call you pedantic and annoying 🙂

LINKS TO SONGS WITH KEY CHANGES + TIME STAMPS (Links not working as intended- click link then skip to time stamp mentioned!)

Half Step Modulations:
Michael Jackson- Man In The Mirror 2:52
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough 1:34

Whole Step Modulations:
The Temptations- My Girl 1:44
Whitney Houston- I Wanna Dance With Somebody 3:37
Didn’t mention this one in the video, but Whitney again with an incredible wholestep change in I Will Always Love You 3:10
Me – Come Back Home 2:41

Larger Modulations:
Mr. Big- To Be With You 2:28
Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On 3:24
Bon Jovi- Livin’ On A Prayer 3:24

Parallel Major/Minor shift-
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (between choruses and verses)

Parallel Mixolydian/Dorian:
The Beatles – Norweigan Wood (between choruses and verses)

Neighbor Key change-
Twenty One Pilots- House Of Gold (Between Verses and Choruses)

Honorable Mentions:
The Supremes- I Hear A Symphony
John Coltrane- Giant Steps
Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
Toni Braxton – Unbreak My Heart

I had to film this video FIVE times before I could start editing it. It was a disaster, first two times the audio was wrecked due to an intermittent low frequency hum that mysteriously started and went away. Third video I forgot to record an entire section (my fault for not working off a script). Fourth time the video was totally out of focus. Finally the fifth time I got it. It was a lot of wasted time and effort and was basically a lot of failure. The only reason I was able to get it right and not rush it out the door is cause my AMAZING PATREON SUPPORTERS are patient enough to fund these lessons and I don’t have to rely on appeasing the youtube algorithm by posting every week whether my videos are in focus or not!
So a big thank you to them, especially the following folks:

Joe Buote
Nick White
Patrick Ryan
Christopher Swanson
John Arnold
Jon Reddish
Brandon Combs
Morgan M.
Lord of the Chords
Phillip Sharp
Don Watters
Bradley Bower
Marek Pawlowski
Linas Orentas

This video has been reuploaded since I made a mistake in the first version- I accidentally thought Livin On A Prayer modulated up a half step (that’s why it’s in that section of the video). Stupid mistake, should have double checked! It’s why the editing is a bit wonky there 😛

Also this video has been copyright claimed by like 7 companies before it even went live, I find that simultaneously entertaining and disappointing.

Jake Lizzio

After performing in highschool bands and talent shows, I began teaching during my Senior Year in highschool at Crystal Lake South in 2004.

I went on to teach at Piano Trends Music Company in Crystal Lake, and there I began expanding my skills outside of just the guitar and began performing for weddings and private events. After leaving to teach privately, I began recording my students and myself.

This hobby eventually turned into a profession after I acquired the experience and equipment needed to produce quality audio and music. My goal now is to provide the highest quality online music lessons available and within reach to all who are interested.

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Music Theory and Songwriting Course FAQs

Probably! Only about 15% of this course is dedicated to the guitar, while the remaining concepts are taught in a way that can easily be applied to any other instrument. However, since all the theory taught is viewed through the lens of the guitar, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you own a guitar before pursuing this course to finish.
This is not a course on guitar playing or technique, but on theory and songwriting. The only skills you are expected to know is how to read guitar tablature, and the absolute basics of guitar playing (how to fret a note, open chords, etc)
I can confidently say that this method of learning will be more effective and valuable for many types of students. Since there is no wasted time or filler, it is more time-efficient than real life lessons where the teacher or student can get distracted. The printable materials are of a higher quality than most private lessons. And the ability to replay a lesson over and over is invaluable for students struggling to understand difficult topics.
Not quite- my YouTube channel explores more advanced topics without explaining the prerequisites. 95% of the content in this course is totally unique and unexplored on my channel, and is taught in a linear fashion as to make sure you’re totally competent by the end. There are only two lessons that include cross over with my YouTube channel. However, after some lessons, you are directed to specific YouTube videos I’ve produced to help expand on your understanding of the previous topics and to help weave my channel in with the course.
Nope! Once purchased you’ll have access for life, including any additional lessons or worksheets that get added in over time.
Currently, no. But I am working on getting a physical version of the course made instead of digital-only. Stay tuned!
If you are not satisfied with the course content or accessibility, you may request a refund within 30 days of purchase.
The sale price of $200 will only be available during special holiday promotions. Sign up to my email list to know when the next sale begins.
Reach out to me directly on my email and let me know your situation, I might be able to help =)