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Five ways to modulate to the parallel minor


Continuing on in this series of posts, I am now going to give my 5 favourite ways of changing from the Major key to its parallel minor, C Major to C minor.

1. This is by far the simplest way. Take a C Major scale, preferably chilled overnight in the fridge, and simply lower the third E to Eb, modally that's E Phrygian (-1) = Eb Lydian +. That’s it, just resolve to the key of C minor and serve with a French salad.

C Major – E Phrygian (-1) = Eb Lyd + = C minor

2. Next, for this one you need a really hot oven. Take a fresh C Major scale and move up a fifth to G Major, then drop B Phrygian down to Bb Lydian + (G Melodic). Now, making sure to wear oven gloves, switch to the equivalent scale of G Harmonic minor and its mode Bb Ionian +. Now the touch of class, move back through the circle of fifths to B Alt bb7 (C Harmonic minor) and resolve to a C minor chord. Great with lobster and mulled wine.

C Major – G Maj – G Mel – G Harm min – C Harm min – C minor.

3. This is the mediteranean take on the above recipe. Take a luke warm C Major and this time go back to F Major before dropping A Phrygian down to Ab Lydian +. Now the flair of the locals, simultaneously move forward a fifth and play the equivalent of the Ab Lydian #2 mode from C Harmonic minor. Such a nice touch. Eat immediately. The contrast here is between the Ab Lydian + and Ab Lydian #2 is quite fruity.

C Major – F Major – A Phrygian (-1) = Ab Lyd + (F Mel) - Ab Lydian #2 – C minor

4. This one is great for that picnic with guests. C Major goes along to mode VI Aeolian and, surprisingly, flattens it. You want it nice and bruised to bring all the juices to the surface. Now just move along to E Phrygian b4 and drop its root and voila, Eb Ionian + of C Harmonic minor. Great with a pint of stout.

C Major – C Harmonic Major – C Harmonic minor

5. Finally, one perhaps for special occasions so use only your finest cutlery. Take a C Major that you have placed in the freezer the night before and place squarely in the centre of the table. Now, flatten the fifth and third at the same time. You may need an extra pair of hands for this. Make sure they are both really flat then this is the really tricky part. Have a fire extinguisher present, just in case. Now, swap the C Melodic b5 (C D Eb F Gb A B) scale for the enharmonically equivalent one of G Harmonic Major (G A B C D Eb F#). The usual flavour is turned on its head and the ear bending, tongue twisting effect is mesmerising. All that is left is to drop the F# to F and we have G Mixolydian b6 from C Melodic and now we can settle into C minor at our pleasure.

C Major – C Melodic b5 – G Harmonic Major – C Melodic – C minor

You may need a bit of a workout after that feast so a 30 minute run up and down as many modes as you can is recommended.

This is part of section IV of The Modal Method, albeit with a culinary tinge. Hope you enjoyed it.


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