1

In Sword Art Online - Swordland (Main Theme) (https://musescore.com/user/13887436/scores/4364901), it goes through a series of modulations and was wondering how the modulations work and how they prepare for it.

It begins in E minor and from what I can tell, beings to prepare at measure 9 to a modulation to C#m that happens in measure 11. Measure 9 contains the chords F#m7, D#dim, back to F#m7 and measure 10 is G# which is the V chord of C#m.

  1. My question is why does the F#m work as a preparation? Was there something before that set this up? Or are we just simply saying "Oh, we're in E major temporarily now and doing a ii -V chord progression?"

modulation 1

0
1

My question is why does the F#m work as a preparation?

Although the right-hand has an apparent F#m chord, when the left-hand is included, the chord is revealed as a D# half-diminished chord. D#m7b5 (half diminished) is the ii chord in the key of C# minor. It's followed in the next measure (m. 10) by G# major, which, of course, is the V chord. So, measures 9-11 form a ii-V-i progression in C# minor.

Note that the E in m. 9 is a suspension from the previous measure, and is not part of the overall harmony of m. 9.

2

Let me start with the first question: all those chords in bars 9 and 10 iv -> ii -> V7 -> i cadence in c# minor. This cadence adds the sharps that would change e minor to E Major, so it feels like a lift to E major, landing on its relative minor, c#.

Bar 19 There are some similarities here. In bar 9-11 we moved from e-minor to c#-minor, down a minor 3rd. In bar 18-19, that's happening again: c# minor moving down a minor third again to b♭. But the difference is that in 9-11, the cadence strongly led to the NEW key, while in 18-19, it very strongly leads to the old key, c#. This isn't really a modulation at all-- it's quite jarring, and deliberately so.

The same thing happens again in bars 25-27: a big set-up for a landing on e♭ minor, but instead jumping down to c minor. So in each of those cases, they are landing a minor 3rd down from where you'd expect.

Imagine a movie trailer with a lot of sudden cut scenes. This is kind of the musical equivalent of that-- a series of musical cut scenes.

So what holds it together? The constant repetition of a couple of rhythmic / melodic devices in the right hand: first a 3-3-2 division of 8, and later, then a kind of buhhhh-buh-buh-buhhhh in bar 11, which has a 6/8 feel and can be counted 1, (2)-and-a, 1, (2)-and-a. . . In both rhythmic devices, the scales mostly move in a very similar way: holllld-step-step-holllllld.

4
  • A couple of clarifications regarding your mm. 9-10 analysis: 1) Do you mean iv/ii ("four of two"), or do you mean there is a iv chord and a ii chord? 2) I don't understand your reference to E minor and E major; it's just a V chord in C# minor, isn't it? – Aaron Mar 21 at 3:27
  • (1) Because they're 7ths and the doubled notes can just be thought of as passing tones, then I'm not too picky about whether to label that as iv->ii or a kind of conglomerate. The important thing is that it's part of a cadence in c#. (2) e minor would normally like to modulate to C rather than C#. So in this case, there's an implied shift to E major. Since the composer repeats this pattern throughout the piece WITHOUT modulating, I think it's worth pointing that out. – Bennyboy1973 Mar 21 at 4:04
  • (1) I think we might be misunderstanding each other "iv/ii" (four of two; i.e., an applied/secondary chord) would be G#min (equivalent to the minor v chord in C# minor), but I don't see G#min anywhere. If you mean "there is a mixture of iv chords and ii chords", consider changing the notation so as not to confuse other readers. – Aaron Mar 21 at 4:17
  • Okay, I will. . . – Bennyboy1973 Mar 21 at 4:44
0

A simple answer is - yes, the ii V I sequence is so strong that jumping straight into a ii V I in a new, unrelated key is a common device. (It leads us into C♯ minor, not E major, here.)

1
  • 1
    "The ii-V is strong with this one" -- Obi One-Chord Kenobi – Aaron Mar 21 at 23:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.