Modulating Progressions from One Key to Another

Welcome to the world of modulation: something that I think Scaler excels at. In this short tutorial I am going to outline how easy it is to change (ie. modulate) from one key to another. But first a little music theory.

Every major key has a relative minor (natural) key that uses the same notes. The relative minor is the Aeolian mode of the major key, which is the scale but starting on the sixth note of the major scale. The relative minor of C major is A minor and its notes are A,B,C,D,E,F,G.

The easiest modulations to do are to keys that have a key signature 1 sharp or 1 flat different from the original key. So for C major the easiest modulations are to

  1. A minor (the same key signature),
  2. F major (key signature = 1 flat),
  3. G major (key signature = 1 sharp),
  4. D minor which is the relative minor of F major and has key signature = 1 flat, and
  5. E minor which is the relative minor of G major and has key signature = 1 sharp.

But you can modulate to any other key.

I am going to start with a simple four chord progression in C maj

Now simply click on the MOD page

On the left-hand side of the window is the Circle of Fifths, which we will use to help us to modulate to the new key (the Circle of Fifths, is shows the relationship between the scales and keys in Western 12 tone music). Above the Circle of Fifths is a drop-down menu giving various modulation options, but for this simple modulation we will leave it on “PROGRESSION”.

This means that when we modulate to the new key it will also show us the chords of our progression in the new key.

The circle actually consists of two circles: the outer one is the major keys and the inner one the minor keys.

Now simply click on the key to which you want to modulate (in this example I am choosing to modulate to E min).

And the page now shows you a suggested path for your modulation,

and your progression in the new key.

Note that, if there is more than one path, there will be a little grey arrow to the right of the SUGGESTED PATH.

If you click on this arrow another suggested path will be displayed.

I am going to use this path to modulate to E min. And because I already have a G maj chord in my original pattern

I am going to use just the last three chords in the modulation path

I add these to a new pattern,

and then add my pattern in the new key to a new pattern

The final song (?) is

Finally, the on-line Scaler Course has an excellent module on Modulation, where @Tristan explains all the types of modulation very clearly, and there is also a short video from Plugin Boutique.

I do recommend the on-line Scaler Course as it covers many topics from an introductory level to more advanced topics.



Thanks for that. I’m studying the Scaler course, but this was really useful.

The one bit I can’t get is getting the modulation chords into a new pattern.

Are you dragging them onto the pattern button? I can’t seem to do that. I have to select the chords and right click to bring up the move menu.


Have you tried selecting the chords then right-click and “add to new pattern”?

Thank you for this clear explanation. But what if you want some chords for a transition from verse to pre chorus or chorus in the same key? And what if you modulate to a bridge in a different key but also with a different chord progression then those in the original part (where you then modulate from)?

HI @Bennyman,

Sorry I haven’t got back to you sooner, but I am not ay home at the moment.

A brief answer to your two queries is

  1. You can use any diatonic cords to move between sections in the same key.
  2. To modulate between sections in different keys where there are different patterns use the modulation page.

For your point 1. it would be nice if Scaler could also propose suggestions, since they say Scaler is very much ment as a tool for those, like me, with no or almost no knowledge of music theory. But thank you.

It can do this on the MOD page.

Simply navigate to the MOD page and choose Progression as the MODUATION PRESET.
Then select the DESTINATION SCALE to be the same as your original scale and Scaler will propose a modulation path or paths.

In the example below I have created three patterns in Eb min

and I want to create a path between patterns 1 and 2.

I switched to the MOD page and using the PATTERNS option I selected Eb min as my destination scale.

Scaler presented me with six options for moving between the patterns. By clicking on the grey arrow to the right of the suggestions I found a pattern that had a chord which was the same as the last chord in pattern 1 (Cb maj 7).

I added the last two chords from the suggestion to pattern 1

Which gave me the following chords for my song

Thank you. I can do that now. Happy with it!