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  From Ted's Toolbox. Beginning Modulation.

by Mark Thornbury 6/1/06

My first experience with Ted Greene, unlike many others, was not that of a teacher, but of a performer.I attended a private party In 1975 made up of fellow musicians, mostly guitarists, and we each paid a $5 entrance fee to cover Ted & beer. I sat in the front row, about 4 feet away, and for the next 2 hours experienced something that I had never seen before in my life.I had become accustomed to watching Joe Pass every weekend at Donte's for months, and loved every moment, but THIS was something that I had never seen done before. Not like this.

An attendee brought a Revox reel to reel, and recorded the event, and although the recording was of a very poor quality, I aquired a copy & was able to relive much of what I had experienced. Many of the songs were unknown to me, except for "People", "Girl Talk", "Over The Rainbow", "Summertime", and "Danny Boy", but I played the recording for my parents who were able to fill in most of the other song titles.

In a way, the most beautiful thing for me was that Ted sort of never stopped playing.he would play a lot of musical pieces in between the known songs, sort of little compositions which would weave in & out & in between. Beautiful little ditties that reminded me of old movie music, from the 40' & 50's. And he was constantly changing keys!

I soon had the opportunity to study with this remarkable man, and I barraged him with all sorts of questions, as I had been attempting to analyze the recording, and was pulling my hair out.

Ted gently introduced me to his Toolbox, his collection of ideas collected from many sources, concerning the making of music. One great shock for me was the discovery that most of these pieces of "incidental musical interludes" between the standards that he was playing were not, in fact, pre-arranged, but WERE IMPROVISED! And here I thought that improvisation was playing a flurry of notes based upon the D Dorian mode!

Ted introduced me to Systematic Inversions, Chord Scales, Common Chord Progression Formulae, as well as showing me the songs that I had heard him play. There are quite a number of musical tools which he showed, and one of them is the art & science of MODULATION..

The first thing Ted told me about modulating to another key was that in "Modern" 20th century music a new key can be immediately introduced with a ii7 V7 of whatever key you want to go to, and it will pretty much work.

BUT.Ted, being Ted, then told me that there is an entire venerated history of modulation from the Common Practice Period (1600-1900) which should be studied and evaluated, because many beautiful sounds do originate from the subtle and gradual evolution of modulation from 400 years ago to the present.

So we started with studying Traditional Harmony, and studied basic 3 and 4 voice triads in the more common formulae such as I IV V, I iv IV V, etc. and this led to the first concepts of Modulation: Closely related Keys.

The first Closely related keys of a scale are going to be the keys of IV and V, and then ii, iii, & vi ( 5 closely related keys). These keys are not too hard to get to, all one needs to do is re-think the number of a chord to the new number in the new key, hence it becomes a 'pivot chord' because it provides a "swing" preceding the 'target' key.

Ted then gave me a set of 10 simple examples, or formulae, to try these ideas out, and it makes a little more sense when written out:

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