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Many pop tunes will modulate up a semitone near the end of the piece in order to gain energy or excitement. This is known as a Truck Driver's Gear Change, and some tunes will even do it multiple times for that extra kick. I've often wondered; are there any pop (or other) tunes which at regular intervals modulate DOWN?

It seems like a good way to put your listeners to sleep, but maybe it would work in the right musical genre. (I also think it could be very funny if done correctly; I wonder if PDQ Bach ever tried it.)

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Here is a non-comprehensive list of such pieces: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TruckDriversGearChange

Under the "Subversions" sections you can find some pieces that modulate down.

e.g.

Inverted in "Tonight" from West Side Story, which moves down a half-step with each successive chorus so the final one can end calmly and quietly.

  • Interesting. None of the pieces have what I'd call "Truck Drivers Gear Change Down"; although they do modulate down, the tune's inherent key changes are complex enough that the modulation isn't immediately obvious (as it is in, say, "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life"). – Daniel Griscom Jun 11 '15 at 16:20
  • Then look no further than Europe's subtlest and most cerebral band: youtube.com/watch?v=MSsTS6c8KOU I found this following the links on that page, and it does indeed modulate a whole step down in the first verse. – Some Dude On The Interwebs Jun 11 '15 at 16:58
  • Perhaps I'm not expressing myself well, but that tune has its central melody bracketed by intro/outro, both a minor third above the melody. It isn't an inversion of the Truck Driver Gear Change. (Entertaining tune, though: thanks.) – Daniel Griscom Jun 11 '15 at 20:28
  • Well, it is immediately obvious, though :P – Some Dude On The Interwebs Jun 12 '15 at 5:12
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Mariah Carey's cover of I Want To Know What Love Is drops a semitone during the second chorus (the Foreigner original doesn't change key).

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