I've been analysing 'If I Ever Lose My Faith In You' by Sting. I'm trying to understand the theory behind the chord sequences but i'm a bit stuck and would appreciate it if anyone could help me.

The song starts out in A major but the chorus modulates up to E major. I'm interested in how he creates this subtle modulation and also the chords to the chorus.

The two bars before the chorus are: Amaj-F#m7 before landing on E major. I was looking at this as a IV-ii-I in E. This isn't a cadence though is it so could you help explain why this works so well?

The chords to the chorus are again not diatonic for half of the chorus. The chords are E, F#7, G6, A. F#7 and G are both outside of the key. I know that the G could be thought of as the 3rd from the parallel minor (E minor). I'm not sure about the F#7 though?

Then in the bridge the chords are F#m7, G#m7, Amaj9, B, F#, G#, A. It sounds like it may have modulated but i'm not sure.

Thanks for your help

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  • we can do nothing without a picture
    – Neil Meyer
    Jan 17, 2017 at 17:38
  • Although the first chord may be A, with G and D following, to me that bit's in D. The F# in the chorus sounds F#m. Also question the chords before the chorus. Sound like A and G to me. The sus bits throw the chords somewhat.
    – Tim
    Jan 17, 2017 at 18:44
  • 2
    @NeilMeyer - a picture of what?
    – Tim
    Jan 17, 2017 at 19:44
  • A picture of the score
    – Neil Meyer
    Jan 18, 2017 at 6:28
  • I will listen to it in the next few days and attempt an answer.
    – L3B
    Feb 7, 2017 at 22:19

3 Answers 3


I should explain first of all that I was unable to listen to the YouTube version. I get no sound. So I went to the A&M video of a recording session, and my answer is based on what I heard there.

First of all I disagree that the verse is in A. True, there's a lot of E7 going on, which tends to IMPLY A. But I never hear an A chord. All I hear in the verse is an alternation between E7 and B minor. Then there is a substitution of a B7 for the B minor, which behaves as a V7 for the E, throwing the Chorus into E for sure, though there's still the occasional dominant 7th hint, but now the E alternates with B and B7. No B minor to be found. A substitution of a B minor for a B7 throws us back into the verse again.

I never do hear the wild variety of chords that you refer to in your question, not even in the bridge section, which admittedly does go a bit further afield. But since I never do hear an A chord, and you definitely do, I don't think my analysis is going to satisfy you any, so at this point I give up! (You must be hearing root changes that I'm missing. Or, perhaps they really aren't there and you're imagining them? I hate to suggest it, but it does occur to me.)

EDIT: Well now that I've seen the sheet music, the verse certainly IS in A. Sorry to go off track. On the other hand, this is NOT the same as the version I listened to -- the A&M recording session. So perhaps that can be my excuse!

  • As to how the modulation is accomplished, if there really is a modulation from A to E, as you believe, it's done by substituting a B7 (the V7 of E) for the B minor which is the ii of A. Effective but simple.
    – L3B
    Feb 14, 2017 at 1:57
  • Thanks for having a listen. I'm pretty sure the verse is in A. Not just because of what it says in the score but also because of the melody and chords used. I don't know if the version you listened to was in a different key to the original, I actually don't hear an E7 until the chorus. I would be interested to see what you think once you've looked at the score. Thanks for contributing
    – alierrett
    Feb 15, 2017 at 10:52

It is a curious chord progression, and not one that lends to a tidy analysis. The verse progression from A - G - D is already a bit weird. He keeps starting the verses on A which leads us to take A as centre, but the G chord is not in A. I would say the verse is in D but that it revolves around A.

The chorus with its progression: E-F#7-G6-A-E seems to be playing with E major, and B minor. The F#7-G6 is an interpolation from B minor (V7 to bVI) then it goes to IV (A) and back to I (E). This rather strong B minor interpolation of course effects the feel of the E major chords which comes across quite colourful in a B minor context.

To address your question directly about the modulation. This modulation, A - F#m7 - E, your analysis seems good to me. There is no cadence that's true, the modulation is rather stark. But remember going from IV to I is a type of cadential movement; at the very least it is a strong movement, in this case the ii chord is also added. ii is closely related to IV though (the relative minor chord of IV).


I don't think we can dispute the tonal centre of the verse is A. So we need to find a way to include the G chord in that tonality. The bVII chord is commonplace in pop music. Can we just leave it at that?

E major is the dominant of A. Modulation to the dominant is possibly the least remarkable one possible! It would have been fine to simply wrap up the verse in A major then jump straight into the new key, but he smoothes it out by using the melody note E as a pivot, and there's a hint of a plagal cadence as F#m7 includes an A major triad.

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