[Smt-talk] Popular Songs with 3 or more modulations?

Neal, Jocelyn jneal at email.unc.edu
Tue Jun 17 09:25:23 PDT 2014

Dear Devin and all,

Two examples from the general pop (and tonal) musical world:

Shania Twain, “If You Wanna Touch Her, Ask” moves up by successive whole-step modulations from C to D, to E, and then F#.

Scooter Lee, “Dizzy” (a club and line-dance hit) spins through Ab, A, Bb, drops to G,  moves back up through modulations and finally winds up in B.

More on the Twain modulation and several others in her songs plus one from Faith Hill, in “Country-Pop Formulae and Craft: Shania Twain’s Crossover Appeal,” Expression in Pop-Rock Music, 2nd ed., ed. Walter Everett. New York: Routledge, 2008, pp. 285-311.

All best-
Jocelyn Neal

Jocelyn Neal

Department of Music
CB #3320 Hill Hall
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3320
jneal at email.unc.edu<mailto:jneal at email.unc.edu>

From: Smt-talk [mailto:smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of Devin Chaloux
Sent: Sunday, June 15, 2014 11:53 PM
To: smt-talk smt
Subject: [Smt-talk] Popular Songs with 3 or more modulations?

Greetings list,

Listening to Beyonce's 2011 single "Love on Top" from the album "4" has prompted an inquiry to those on this list. For those familiar with the song, the end features four successive modulations of the chorus up by a half step (thus moving from the initial key of C major to the final key of E major). It's a particularly striking example of modulation in pop music, especially recent Top 40 hits. I'd venture to say that even finding two modulations in one pop song is a fairly rare occurrence in the last 10 or so years of Top 40 radio...let alone three or four.

I seem to recall Brian Hoffmann presented at least one example at the recent MTMW meeting, but the name of the song is escaping me at the moment. Are there any others that you can think of?


Devin Chaloux
Indiana University
Ph.D. in Music Theory (enrolled)
University of Cincinnati - College-Conservatory of Music
M.M. in Music Theory '12
University of Connecticut
B.M. in Music Theory '10
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