I am reading Reger's book of modulations, and his analysis does not seem to me to be the most consistent. This example (No. 72, from a minor to F♯ Major) comes across as particularly odd:

Excerpt from Reger

Here is the weird bit compared to a (IMO) less convoluted alternative.

Alternative analysis

Why would he assign a minor dominant and a minor subdominant in a major key when he could have used only basic key-based triads? In case you're wondering: In several other examples, he doesn't mind pivoting on the first chord.

Do you think he probably didn't care that much, or is there some deeper logic to consider here? Do you prefer the alternative?

  • Do all the examples that pivot on the first chord come after this example in the book, or does at least one of those come before?
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 12:58
  • 1
    With pleasure! Just to make sure: Do you mean modulations where the first chord is also a pivot chord?
    – Pladask
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 13:34
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    Here's one (No. 32, from C Major to d minor): i.imgur.com/g3a6Akq.png
    – Pladask
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 13:45
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    From reading the introduction to the book, it seems to me that Reger is trying to give illustrations of various methods of modulation. One always needs more ways to go from one chord to another. There are some other books like Frank Shepard's "How to Modulate" from a few years later that do similar things.
    – ttw
    Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 15:15
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    Echoing @ttw here that I don't get the idea Reger is showing the simplest or clearest methods to modulate, but rather a glossary of ideas. Also, I think the notes/chords chosen are the point rather than his explanation. TTW, you should reframe your comment as an answer!
    – nuggethead
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 21:05

1 Answer 1


I’m a long time professional musician, not an academic .. my only experience is with Schönberg's “theory of harmony”. Arnold takes much longer to modulate (generally) than Reger. My experience says: let’s not overlook the supremacy of the melodic - in modulation. While it’s handy to have a composer lay out harmonic logic to go from here to here ... fine. But my experience says the lines within your SATB are critically important - to modulate you have to hear the lines. That is not always so easy. Logical harmonic structures? sure, but music is essentially deeper than logic. If logic were the ruling factor - math majors would be the best composers ... and they are not. Music is more than any one of its aspects.

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