I am analysing the chords from songs I like, in order to understand why I like them and to reuse the ideas in contexts that suit my voice and playing styles better.

I am going through Lush - Single Girl now, a song in the key of A major. Verse goes like:

A                              D
Single girl I don't wanna be a single girl
A                              D
Single girl I don't wanna be a single girl

So I IV.

Then the next section is:

F           G        C         F
Don't wanna be on my own again tonight
F           G           D
Don't wanna put out the light

F, G and C are not diatonic in A major, but I see them as borrowed from relative parallel minor. Which is the best way to notate them? Am I right with:

bVI         bVII     bIII      bVI
Don't wanna be on my own again tonight
bVI         bVII        IV
Don't wanna put out the light

Or should I write it as modulating to A minor (but then again D would be non-diatonic)?

  • 2
    They're said to be borrowed from the parallel minor. The relative minor has the same chords basically as its relative major. There must be many more factors than the chord structure that means you like a song, I hope!
    – Tim
    May 2, 2018 at 10:09

4 Answers 4


Listening to the tune, it sounds like a modulation to a new key, so I would avoid thinking about borrowed chords here. Since the new key doesn't sound minor and includes no minor chords it seems like C Major would be a better choice for the name of the new key.

Try to focus on what you need to know when you attempt a Roman numeral analysis. When keys modulate, I would simply notate the relevant keys:

    A: I  IV    I  IV C: IV V     I  IV    IV V  A: IV
    |  A  D  |  A  D  |  F  G  |  C  F  |  F  G  |  D  D  |

Looking at things this way makes sense (to me at least) because the chords in the second section seem to want to land on C (with the IV - Vs); this is frustrated by the final chromatic D that leads back to the original key.


I hear a brief resolution to tonic on "own again." As such, I would personally want a way to show that with my analysis.

You're right that F, G, and C are diatonic in A minor (the parallel minor, not relative; parallel keys share the same tonic, relative keys share the same key signature). But these chords are also diatonic in C major; they're I, IV, and V! In fact, this is where I hear that brief resolution, so I think it's best to hear that section as:

  I  IV  V  IV  V

We call this an extended tonicization. Instead of a single V/V resolving, we have a few chords in the temporary key.

This way we can easily see the cadential progression in C, which is ♭III in the overall key of A major. In other words, it's a brief phrase in the relative key of the parallel key!

You'll end up returning to A with the D chord. In fact, you may even want to approach this from a standpoint of "text painting"; I can't help but notice that our return to A begins on the word "light," and the reintroduction of that F♯ sure sounds bright.


If you want a key centre for the second section C major could be useful. Don't worry too much about how to label C major in relation to A Major. They weren't thinking about 'modal interchanges' or any such 'theory'. There's not much functional harmony going on here.


@Richard's answer provides the essential explanation this is an extended tonicization, but I want to add an additional point.

Borrowed chords can also involve a chromatic mediant relationship.

For example, the chord F major can be seen as a borrowed bVI in the key A major. It's also the case that the tonic A major chord and F major are chromatic mediants.

We can also see a chromatic mediant relationship in the to tonic regionss A major and C major.

Finally, when the second part centered around C repeats, the D goes to F another chromatic mediant pair.

In examples like this - where the chords don't function as borrowed chord - I think the chromatic mediant is simply a desired, colorful sound. In this song we hear that unique sound at the connections between the two parts in A and C.

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