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Can I modulate to a...
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Can I modulate to a mode?

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Eminent Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 12
Topic starter  

I've been asking a lot of such questions... Apologies if this is annoying... I'll also try to be more active and try to help others if I can, since so far I've just been posting my own threads. Apologies for this as well.

I'm working on an instrumental song, and in one part I want it to modulate (I want constant interest and elements of surprise, I don't want it to sound straightforward, that's the one thing I'm trying to avoid, and I must admit it's not at all easy). The modulation goes to a Dmaj, preceded by an A7, but once I'm on that Dmaj, instead of playing the D major scale, I'm actually playing a melody in the D Phrygian Dominant scale, and using chords from that mode as my chord progression, and of course resolving on Dmaj to complete the Phrygian Dominant sound.

It sounded fine to me and didn't sound like it's off, but I'm not sure, so I decided to ask. I ideally want it to appeal to the listener, musician and non-musician, and I want them to be able to relate to it and actually be able to make sense of it, while at the same time not being able to predict everything (if I ever get anywhere with my music, that is). So is such a modulation "allowed" (using that term loosely here) in music, if I want the listener to like it and not feel like something is wrong? The logic I'm using is this: if A7 modulates nicely to Dmaj, then by that logic I'm not restricted what to do after that and what mode or scale to play in, since the modulation already happened, and by that logic to me it sounds like it should work with no problems. I couldn't really think of any examples of songs that do something like this, since I don't believe it's common in music, so it would be really nice if someone can suggest something like this. So, any thoughts on this?

Active Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 13

Personally I'm a great believer in if it sounds good to you then it will sound good to others. As for being 'allowed'? Yeah definitely. All the best music comes from breaking the rules not sticking to them!

Lachlan Horne. Guitar tutor for 40 AMAZING THINGS YOU CAN DO WITHT THE MINOR PENTATONIC SCALE web tutorial - Free lesson at

Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921

Pretty much any modulation is "allowed" - even ones that are really jarring usually have a theoretical construct behind them that explains things, like geometric modulations (key changes based on drawing a shape, like a triangle or square, inside the circle of fifths).

The one you're using is called a parallel modulation. The A7-Dmaj harmony sets up D as the tonic, but you are using a parallel scale - a scale that shares the same tonic note of D.

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