I,m having some trouble figuring it out a nice way to change from B major to A minor. So far i've tried B -> E -> A -> Am, but it doesnt sound smooth, and I have no much knowledge about music theory and modulation, if you can help me I could learn from your answers. Thanks!

Edit: I forgot to add some context. Im asking for modulation because we are playing a guitar song in B major and we want to play another song without stopping playing, but to modulate, that song is in A major, then we want to go back to B major. Maybe we should transpose from B to C major, but i want to learn modulation. Also, instrument=guitar. Hope you can understand, english is not my language

  • Is the other song A minor or major? You list both. Feb 4, 2021 at 21:10
  • You could always try the first song in key A. What absolute reason is there for it to be in key B?
    – Tim
    Feb 27, 2022 at 15:33

7 Answers 7


You're going down a note, and it doesn't help that you're going from major to minor. This modulation is in danger of feeling like a 'downer' however skilfully you disguise it. But if you must...

My absolutely favourite way of getting into a new key is the Nike method - 'Just Do It!' Wrap up the song that's in B, set straight off again in A minor.

If that's too direct for you, think melody as well as just chords. A strong melodic line can lead you just about anywhere! Suppose the first song ended with a simple 3,2,1 scale. Use the same melodic shape in a link passage using II7 and V7 of the new key. Like this.

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If you want to get to A minor, you don't want a chord of A major muddying the waters. A straightforward "V I" cadence E (or E7) Am will get you there.

The A major chord will probably mess up the "harmonic rhythm" as well. (That's just a fancy term for which are the "strong" and "weak" chords in a progression, similar to the strong and weak beats in counting any rhythm.) In B E7 A Am, the B and A chords are likely to be "strong" and the E7 and Am "weak", but if you are trying to get to A minor, you want the final Am chord to be "strong". In other words, your chord progression modulated to A major, and then stuck an A minor chord on the end, without a clear reason for it to be there at all.

To establish the new key even stronger, you want a "II V I" cadence which is Bm (or Bm7) E (or E7) Am.

Note the Bm, not B major. So your first task is to get to that Bm chord, which should be easy, since flipping back and forth between the tonic major and minor keys is barely a "modulation" at all.

You could throw in another "minor-sounding" chord before the Bm to begin de-stabilizing the B major before you modulate - for example B(major) F#7b9 (with a G natural not a G sharp) Bm E Am.


The commonest modulation route is to play the V of the new key just before the I. When you're in B, an E or E7 is a natural progression, as the B is V of that E, which then becomes the V of the target key, Am. It ought to sound the smoothest change. Try different voicings for the E/E7 - or even E9. It has worked millions of times so far!


If you are just strumming chords to match songs, then one idea would be to play an F#7-B7-E7-am (dm-am-E7-am optional afterwards). A good way to find these patterns (unless just going directly which can be good, too) is to find a cadential pattern in the target key and approach that target as a whole. There are several, (V7-i, ii0-V7-i, ii-V7-i, iv-V7-i, etc.) all go through a V7-i pattern to fix the key.

More exotic would be something like a iv6-V in the target key, (dm-E followed by am) or F7-a64-E7-am (this is very dramatic so should be used sparingly.) Of course, then the question is how to get to F; you could play a C63 (notes E-G-C-E) from B then go directly to an F7 chord.



B Esus2 E7 Am

B A#sus4 A# Am

Bmaj7 B7 Emaj7 E7 Am

B7 Bdim7 Am

B Bm E7 Am

B Bdim E7b9 Am

These also work if you're going to A major.


Here's what I managed to come up with:

(1) B E(or E7) A F7(or D# dim or D# dim7, perhaps even D# half dim). By using the appropriate voicing, you could get a nice topline of D# B C# D# E using this progression. You may replace some of these chords with inversions and/or add extension notes (This applies to all of the progressions I write in this answer) For instance, depending on context of the song/piece you might want something like A F7/A Am which has a pedal tone A.

(2) B Bdim C(C7) F Am. If appropriately voiced gives a chromatic "line cliche" of F# F E F (if you add extension of F# on the Am it will be one more F# there)

(3) F# A(A7) D(D7) G(G7) Am. This, if nicely voiced, can provide a topline of c# e f# g a.

(4) B Bb(Bb7) E7 Am. Here I used Bb, a non diatonic chord in both B major and A minor. However in the progression, Bb is led to from B using chromatic movement, common technique for changing even just chords (and not key yet). On the other hand, Bb or Bb7 is what might be known as the tritone substitution chord of E7, so it functions as E7 but has a different flavor, perhaps a bit alien or exotic.

(5) B G#m(G# dim7 etc.) Am. If that's too direct for you, maybe for example extend it to B G#m A F#(F#7) B G#m A Am (a parallel major to minor chord change can sound nice) or B G#m A F# G#m A E(E7) Am.


... Im asking for modulation because we are playing a guitar song in B major and we want to play another song without stopping playing ... Maybe we should transpose...

OK, but what is the "normal" reason to modulate? A dry, technical explanation is tonal contrast. But that just begs the question: why tonal contrast through modulations? I think the reason is hinted at in @LaurencePayne's answer: tonal contrast evoke emotion.

You could come up with some pivot chord type smooth modulation between B major and A minor. Keeping the second song in its original key of A minor.

You could transpose one or both of the songs. You could do relative keys B major and G# minor, or parallel keys B major and B minor.

Each of those has some emotional potential, or potential "mood". You really should try them all and then choose.

If you want to learn about modulation for its own sake, I thought the same as @LaurencePayne. You basically work in the dominant chord of the new key. The textbook smooth modulation is to use pivot chord (chords common to both keys) and then the dominant of the new key. In the case of B major to A minor the E major chord is both a pivot chord and dominant, it's in both keys B: IV & Am: V. You can make that have a bit more pull and color by using the plain triad E major and then the dominant seventh chord E7. Notice that when you use the E7 it changes the D# of key B major - that's the tone providing the major quality to B major - to become D natural - E7 = E G# B D. So, that sort of changes the major quality of D# into the minor quality of D. That creates a "darkening" or mood/emotion.

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