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Hello how are you? :) delighted to be here in my first post, I am a graduate of Sound Engineering and I am currently studying modern harmony in a self-taught way, I have been able to understand the bases of harmony with the help of some books I bought. I also study songs and try to determine the key they are in so that I can understand harmony and melody.

A day ago I listened to the musical group Frou Frou and I loved the use of their arrangements and vocal melodies, there is a new song called "A new kind of love" and analyzing the melody I came to the first conclusion that it was in G# /Ab Locrian, this simply by determining the notes that the voice sang, as these also belong to several other scales, for example, F# Aeolian, or D Lydian, or A Major which would be the source scale, how can I know how they approach the harmony and melody? ie from A Ionian or D Lydian etc? the keyboards play at the beginning a C#m7 and F#m7 in cluster voicing and at the beginning of the verse the bass makes a progression from D E F# A and this makes me feel that the rest falls in D. Am I right?

I saw a page (Hook Theory) that mentioned that the song was in F# Aeolian but for some reason I don't feel the rest in F#,

That is why I approach you to know how I can interpret this and we can also talk about the harmony of this group which, in this song, there is a lot of use of clusters and a maintenance of chords that look good in the progression of the verse, for example the C# note that is present throughout the verse,

I look forward to your answers, thank you very much

2 Answers 2

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It all sounds pretty well in A to me - albeit a rather out of tune A. The bass is landing on that A very frequently.

Incidentally, had it been A♭ Locrian (it certainly isn't), since it's from parent key A, we'd call it G♯ Locrian. Key A has G♯, not A♭.

Songs and other musical pieces will often 'stray' into other modes, and even into parallel keys, so it's nothing out of the ordinary. The place any piece feels like 'home' will be what we determine as the key. At very least, the key signature will be 3♯ for my money!.

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  • The melody definitely puts one in A out of context, and so does the bass line, but the chord changes have such a minor-key feel to them that it's difficult to agree that the key is A major.
    – phoog
    Jul 7, 2022 at 8:00
  • it is interesting to read your comments, so far I agree more with this comment since the melody rests on A, in different parts of the song. It's evident in the verse with the first phrase "A new kind of Love" falling back to A. And then in the chorus, it rests on C# momentarily but straightens out the cadence with the final phrase "With a feeling" resting again in A. In addition, the cluster chords at the beginning correspond to the iim7 and iiim7 that are present in A Ionian. If so, the bass would be making a IV - V - VI - I progression throughout the song.
    – abulubulu
    Jul 7, 2022 at 10:09
  • @abulubulu "A new kind of love" is the beginning of the phrase. "Genetically altered" is the end of the phrase, on the F# chord, with the vocals on the A, the third of the chord.
    – Aaron
    Jul 7, 2022 at 14:06
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It's understandable that one would hear D as being the tonic — the rest point. It is the starting point of the chord progression, thus very prominent to the ear, and the A at the end of the progression is the harmonic return to D, thus reinforcing it.

However, F# is the true target. The way to hear this is to listen to the way the lyrics in the verse aim toward that point where the bass in on the F#. Every time the vocals pause on a long note (i.e., sustain a lyric longer than the others), the bass is at F#. Put another way, every vocal cadence (or "mini-cadence") in the verse occurs on a bass F#.

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  • I understand, do you think my approach of analyzing the melody is correct? for example in the following song link, I immediately consider F# Phrygian, do you think the song was approached from F# Phrygian or from another scale for instance B Aeolian?
    – abulubulu
    Jul 7, 2022 at 4:26
  • @abulubulu It's in B minor (aeolian). There's nothing wrong with your method overall; I think you just need more experience in developing your ear. It's highly unusual for popular music to be written in any mode other than major or minor, so if you believe a song is written in some other mode, you should question your conclusion.
    – Aaron
    Jul 7, 2022 at 4:57
  • "highly unusual for popular music to be written in any mode other than major or minor": Modal songs are common in popular music. "It's in B minor": if that's so then why does B appear so prominently as a dissonance?
    – phoog
    Jul 7, 2022 at 7:58
  • I just heard Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love" for the first time in many years(<bsp><bsp><bsp><bsp><bsp>)decades. Definitely mixolydian.
    – phoog
    Jul 19, 2022 at 9:56

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