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

Robinson, Thomas trobinson at ua.edu
Tue Jun 17 10:50:54 PDT 2014

Dear Devin and Colleagues,

While such modulations may be rare in the Top 40, they are quite prevalent in contemporary gospel, an obvious and multifaceted influence on “Love on Top.”  Look no further than Kurt Carr’s “We Lift Our Hands in the Sanctuary.”  Here is a rundown of timing and keys:

0:00 C#
1:11 D
1:41 D#
2:24 F (skipped a step)
3:42 F#
4:00 G
4:17 G#
4:51 A
(false ending)
5:09 A#
(false ending)
5:27 B
5:47 C

This example is a bit extreme as most modulations in this genre are reserved for the latter half of a song.  The influence of gospel upon “Love on Top” goes deeper than the modulations, however.  Hezekiah Walker and John P. Kee’s “I’ll Make It,” for example, is quite akin rhythmically and harmonically to Beyonce’s track.

Best wishes,

Thomas Robinson
Associate Professor of Music Theory
Associate Director of Graduate Studies
University of Alabama School of Music

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