I know this question may seem broad, but I am a very mathematical person, I've never had much "ear" for these things.

I have a slow tempo song, about 90bpm with a VI - I - IV chord progression for a chorus, however when heading into my bridge I am adding a V onto the end for transition into another key, I can hear it in my head so clearly, but nothing I play can satisfy me.

Is there a technical solution to knowing which key to jump into next? And also, for knowing where in that key to start?

For reference the key is E.

And I really like the V for moving keys, I would like to keep it I just don't know where to go from there.

  • 1
    What key are you transitioning to and from? Jul 21 '18 at 15:31
  • From E. I can't figure out where to go. That's sort of what this question means.
    – Ryuzaki
    Jul 21 '18 at 15:44
  • You can jump from any key to any other key with the right progression. I'd recommend reading Modulation by Max Reger. It will appeal to your mathematical mind. Cadence!
    – user50691
    Jul 21 '18 at 20:57
  • 1
    The question doesn't really make any sense unless you can give a bit more info. What are the chords of the bridge? Your chorus is: ||:C#min / E / A :|| it sounds like? What are the chords of the bridge? What style is the tune/song? I'm assuming that your are looking for some sort of V to lead into the Bridge. Does it change key, or stay in E? There are lots of ways to transition, and all very "mathematical", but if you could spell out the chorus, with or w/o the V you want to add, it would be a lot easier to figure out what you're looking for.
    – Robert J
    Jul 22 '18 at 4:39
  • Simple: use a secondary dominant. Simply make the 2nd to last chord of your profession either a ii or a IV of new key, make your last chord a V in the new key and boom, new key. If you want to be sneaky use common tones and pivot chords. If you want to be bold, don’t. Jul 22 '18 at 14:54

How to develop a good key change depends largely on what key you are transitioning to and from. As a mathematically-oriented person, you can probably find logic in the notion that you want to transition over chord progressions that are shared between both keys, preferably leading to the dominant of the new key (V) and then resolving to the tonic of the new key. This is one of various techniques for implementing a key change, but the most reliable.

If you can work in the subdominant of the new key as well, all the better, as in this classic example by The Beach Boys, "Don't Worry Baby," which transitions up a whole step from E to F# using a progression that is a very simple to understand and useful example:

The main progression is:

E: I - IV - V - I

Well, it's been building up in side of me for, oh, I don't know how long...

To transition to the new key, the song uses ii - V in the original key followed by "ii - V" in the new key, before resolving to the tonic of the new key.

ii - V

but she looks in my eyes

iii(F#: ii/I) - VI(F#: V/I)

and makes me realize (when she says)

F#: I - IV - V - I

F#: Don't worry baby

Note that the transition involves setting up a chord progression that resolves to the tonic of the new key by transitioning to the chords relative to the new key, but with some overlap with the old key (iii in E, ii (supertonic functioning as subdominant) in F#).


Sounds like your sequence is C# (or C#m) to E to A for the chorus. Then you want to put a B at the end somewhere. That B (V of E) is almost duty bound to expect an E after it. After all, it is the dominant chord of E.

To modulate, or change key, you need the dominant of that key. Let's say the new key will be F, then you'll need C to get there.

If you wanted to go back into a chorus, the usual way is to play the dominant of the first chord, at the turnaround. In your original, it would be G# - leading to either C# or C#m.


If you don't want B7 to lead back to E, try going to C#m, C# major, C major, Bbmajor. We can give those 'theory' explanations as leading-note resolutions, interrupted cadences or a b5 substitution.

But 'Theory describes, it does not command'. Theory can be good at describing and labelling what you've done, it's not so good at telling you WHAT to do!

Is there a melody to this song? Where do you want it to go?

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