I like to write music by repeating melodies, except I usually shift the notes a whole step or sometimes a minor third every measure. So let's say a song starts with a melody in A minor, the next measure it's the same melody but shifted to B minor, then C# minor.

What is it called when that happens? I asked my music teacher about it and he said it's called "modal music". Is that correct? I'm mostly curious so I can explain to people what I'm doing when I write.

  • 1
    Modal is definitely not the word you're looking for. – endorph Nov 23 '16 at 7:47
  • Giant Steps by John Coltrane – Matthew James Briggs Nov 23 '16 at 21:29

If it involves both repetition and transposition, it's called a sequence. It can involve the melody or the harmony alone, or both together. It doesn't have to be limited to a measure in length either. It can involve an exact transposition (a "real sequence") or adjustments to remain in one key (a "tonal sequence"). It can be modified in other ways. The Wikipedia article goes into some depth on this.

  • Thank you that's pretty much the answer I was looking for. The Mozart Minuet example is exactly what I was talking about. So modulating sequence seems to be a good fit. – pyotrangelov Nov 23 '16 at 21:51

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