what type of modulation moves to the relative minor of the parallel major? For example....The key of b min moving to the key of g# min. g# minor is the relative minor of B Major which is the parallel major of the song's original key (b min). To add another concept,a D# Major chord is used as the intermediate transition chord between the modulations.

  • Is it really a modulation, or does the key come back to Bm immediately, or almost immediately after G#m? In the latter case, that would be modal substitution. Feb 12, 2023 at 0:56
  • Ah, the “Light My Fire” progression. Transposed a step down those are the two chords used in the verses. (It’s not really called that) Feb 12, 2023 at 7:00
  • TY John........@ 1079505......It actually modulates yet again after the G#m modulation to Dm....(Coda)....So.....starts in Bm mods to G#m and ends in Dm. The song is Unbreak my heart by Diane Warren
    – user90561
    Feb 12, 2023 at 12:56
  • It starts in Bm, modulates to Dm, the solo is in G#m, if my listening is working!
    – Tim
    Feb 12, 2023 at 16:15
  • Thanks, for an interesting song, that got some of us really thinking - at least me.
    – Tim
    Feb 13, 2023 at 11:49

4 Answers 4


Since you mentioned “Unbreak My Heart” I can say the modulation from Bm to G#m is less significant than the modulation from Bm in the verses to Dm for the choruses, which is the same distance from Bm but in the opposite direction. That is a chromatic mediant modulation as would be Bm to G#m (see my next paragraph). The modulation to Dm is clever. It uses the bVII chord of Bm and turns it into a V in Dm.

The G#m modulation is for an instrumental interlude and actually modulates from the Dm chorus, not from Bm. @Dekkadeci said Bm to G#m is a chromatic mediant modulation. He is right but he didn’t have a musical example and was not aware that the song actually goes from Dm to G#m. Dm to G# is not a chromatic mediant modulation, it’s an extraneous modulation like @Tim mentioned, or a tritone modulation. It gets there with the D# chord you mentioned, which is the V of G#m and also a sub V of Dm. It then returns back to the original key of Bm by using the bVII of G#m as a V to pivot back to Bm, another chromatic mediant.

Here is the basic layout of the entire song:

Intro Bm/Verse Bm/Chorus Dm/Verse Bm/Chorus Dm/instrumental G#m/half verse Bm/Chorus and vamp out Dm

  • Mentioning that tts is interesting.+1. It is usually used to get a major, but I played it at a concert last week to a minor.
    – Tim
    Feb 13, 2023 at 11:46
  • TY John for the full explanation....my mistake and apologies to all for not interpreting the Dm to G#m as I was comparing each individual modulation only to the original key signature (Bm) and not to the previous key change (Dm) (still learning). My inquiry to this song actually stems around the bright D# Maj pivot.....it is very dramatic and beautiful, sandwiched between the two minors.
    – user90561
    Feb 17, 2023 at 14:30
  • @Robert I agree, it is a striking chord. It is simply the V of G#m but seems to come out of nowhere. This song uses pivot chords that are related to both the previous and next key seamlessly. Feb 17, 2023 at 15:24

This would be a modulation to a chromatic mediant.

This type of modulation also occurs in the battle theme "That Person's Name Is"/"That of the Name" from Bravely Default, which swings from A minor to F sharp minor twice (and reverts to A minor once).

  • Wouldn't it be chromatic submediant?
    – Aaron
    Feb 12, 2023 at 17:45
  • 1
    @Aaron - From what I've read, the term "chromatic mediant" applies to both mediants and submediants.
    – Dekkadeci
    Feb 13, 2023 at 6:27
  • Yes, I see now. I've learned something. Thanks.
    – Aaron
    Feb 13, 2023 at 6:33

My 'bible' labels it as extraneous modulation - if the key has actually changed. I was considering what John wrote, where one minor chord went straight to another, as described, as in 'Light my Fire'. Which was simply a change from one chord to another, related in a 'parallel' way.

The D♯ is not surprising - being the V of the new key.


You could call it 'moving to the relative minor of the parallel major'.
Or if you must hang a label on it, 'chromatic mediant' (which is generally agreed to cover sub-mediant as well).

The whole 'mediant relationship' idea is a bit artificial anyway. Yes, it's reasonably painless to shift to a triad that has one note in common, and it's reasonably painless to shift to another triad of the same flavour - major or minor. I'd suggest that that's sufficient excuse for 'chromatic mediants' and for a lot of other shifts besides.

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