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In this post, you all helped me modulate from the original tonality of C major to a new tonality of Bb Major. Now, I am trying to find my way back to the original key.

This is what the chords are without any modulation/transition between the two tonalities:

enter image description here

I understand that the simplest means of firmly establishing a tonality is the cadence.

The strongest cadences are those in which the dominant precedes the tonic triad. The thing is, coming out of the Eb F Bb F progression (in B-flat remember), the B natural is jarring/disruptive. So, in the notes pictured below you'll see that I tried to make the move to V of C more natural by having a D minor chord precede it (I would use a secondary dominant, D7, but I don't want it to sound too contrived/academic/obvious. That is to say I want it to sound effortless.) IV-ii-V-I looks to me to be a very normal progression in C major (subdominant -> dominant -> tonic), so I went with that.

Cadences with the subdominant preceding the tonic are less decisive. I still wanted to try it, though, so you'll see that I just threw the C major immediately after the F major. I feel as though it sounds okay but not particularly satisfying (it sounds like we run into the new (original) tonality by accident).

If I'm not mistaken, the F major chord in both examples serves as the pivot chord, because of its placement and the fact that it is common to both the original tonality (C major) and the new tonality (Bb major)

Please let me know your thoughts on the modulations I've set up here, and please let me know if you have any other suggestions in mind. The setting is pop rock.

The issue of timing is another concern of mine--does the modulation need its own section? Or should I make the bridge long enough to encompass the modulation within the given length? In the actual composition, the section would likely be 16 bars or so.

enter image description here

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    i'm begging you to just trust your ears.
    – Esther
    May 28 at 2:04
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    The way this question is written gives off a strong impression that you've got your head on your shoulders, so to speak - IMO, you sound like you know what you're doing! Personally, I feel like Bb F C is about as effortless as it gets. But if you don't like it or want something different, that's fine. Another option I thought of was Bb Bdim7 C, where the Bdim7 is a pivot chord (could also be a G7 instead with the same functions!), although this can be a bit jazzier/academic-sounding for pop-rock. Diminished chords are a common modulation tool, see if that is something you want to explore.
    – user45266
    May 28 at 8:51
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    And honestly, I think you ought to have a little more faith in your instincts. It sounds like you know what you want from your music with a high degree of precision, which is great. But if you second-guess every chord you write, you'll have a hard time progressing. It can be better to think in terms of finding a solution rather than search for the solution. Eh?
    – user45266
    May 28 at 8:54
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    I don't recommend throwing in the C major right after the F major. Any repeated chord progression does not make a good pivot passage.
    – Dekkadeci
    May 28 at 12:01
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    @user45266 it's something I struggle with everyday
    – 286642
    May 28 at 20:14
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--edited--

I don't like the plagal cadence. That to me looks very strongly like a IV-I-V in F, and I'd really be expecting another F chord next.

Your second series looks very nice to me. You have a nice collection of shared chords, and the G major really kicks it away from B♭ or F keys.

Rather than saying "this is the answer" like I did in my previous answer, I'd like to point out a couple things:

  • always keep in mind the possible of use a dim 7th (including respelled ones). If you treat B♭ as ♭VII of C, then the dim 7 on b♮ gives a very nice stepwise bass motion, with the b♮ immediately erasing hints of F or B♭ keys. (B♭--b♮ dim7 (or half dim 7) --C)
  • also consider relative keys and tonic keys. C isn't that closely related to B♭, but C minor shares the same key sig as E♭ major, so you could play around that with something like: (B♭--B♭7--E♭--g min--c min/g--G7--C maj) for kind of a Bachian chorale feel.
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    To be clear, this answers the question in the title but doesn't do a great job addressing OP's full inquiry. Being perfectly honest, you might have a case to be made on Music: Practice & Theory Meta for this one, but why not play it straight and edit in a solid explanation of why you think the progression you gave will work? There's clearly substance hidden below the surface, but it's an iceberg of an answer and as such IMO should be a comment in its current form.
    – user45266
    May 28 at 8:59
  • @Tom-- Yeah, okay. IMO the OP could probably be about 3 unique questions, but I'm not afraid to roll up my sleeves and add details. It's kind of throwing spaghetti at the wall when it comes to deciding what is or isn't useful material to add, at least for me. May 28 at 9:49
  • @user45266 I'm not much for rules. I'd rather try again than have the guy's question yanked on grounds that certain modulations are already spelled out in the official Compendium-o'-Theory. May 28 at 9:50
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There are lots of ways to pull off a Bb to C modulation. Much depends on how many measures you want to take and what sound to get. The usual suspects are the direct move: just go Bb then C; this works well for a big change; it's also popular with country or pop music.

Another more roundabout is to move to the relative of Bb, Bb->gm then, gm-G (or gm-G7) then proceed to C.

Also, you could pivot on the note D as the third of Bb and root of dm giving Bb6-dm6-G7-C.

Extending things is possible (around the Circle of Fifths and the Montgomery Ward pattern): Bb-Eb-Ab-fm-D7-G7-C. The Ab could be entered as the subdominant of Eb and left as an Augmented Sixth: Bb-Eb-Ab7-C64-G-C.

There are a lot of patterns in the (free) books: https://ia800609.us.archive.org/34/items/supplementtotheo00rege/supplementtotheo00rege.pdf

https://archive.org/details/howtomodulatesim00shep

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  • Thank you for such a thorough response. I appreciate the variety of options you share. I also downloaded the reference material you included. Thank you!
    – 286642
    May 28 at 22:03
  • Would "Bb6-dm6" be Bb/D - dm/F? Or is this to mean Bbadd6 and dmadd6? Just confused by the shorthand.
    – 286642
    May 28 at 22:04
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    Bb6 is D,F,Bb dm6 is F,A,D' it's the first inversion.
    – ttw
    May 28 at 22:05
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    An alternation is the Bb/D and dm/F that was mentioned. The 6 is the figured bass notation; scores using a figured bass would write a D on the staff with a superscript of 6 which indicates the interval above the bass with the 3 understood. (No symbol means the 53 chord or root position.) So what I wrote is a cross between writing the roots of the chords and indicating the chord type by figures. As it turns out, indicating the bass note or the chord root is sufficient so the same figures are used.
    – ttw
    May 28 at 22:16
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    A quick outline: (triads) nothing means root position,6 or 63 means first inversion, 64 means second inversion. For sevenths:7 means root position, 65 is a first inversion, 43 means second inversion, and 42 (or 4) means the third inversion. When I sketch things without a staff, I use letters; if possible, I write out the bass line. In either case, I get to use the same figures.
    – ttw
    May 28 at 22:21

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