Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

What is modulating?

Several weeks back, Gunnar recorded a song. I can’t remember what it was.

Anyway, Mark remarked how he liked the way he “modulated” in one particular area of the song.

So, my three part question is, What is modulating? What does it accomplish? And how is it done? :thinking:


It was grandfather’s clock
To the best of my knowledge, a chord modulation is one method of changing keys. It involves walking a note or chord up or down chromatically to a note or chord in the key you’re going to, preferably in such a way as to lead the ear to expect the chord change.
That’s basically me waxing eloquent and using big words to lend credibility to my dissertation, without any substance of fact.
Yep, I’m a real joy to live with lol :joy::joy::roll_eyes:


Gotcha. Thanks Gunnar, after you responded and explained it, it reminded me that Ben uses some modulations in the banjo version of Red River Valley.

Thank you. :+1:


In music , modulation is the change from one tonality (tonic, or tonal center) to another. This may or may not be accompanied by a change in key signature.

"And how is it done?" in thousands (or more) of ways.

simplest way I can think of…you want to change form a D (5 chord) to a G (1 chord) in the key of G
to modulate you throw in a D7 between the two…this makes a pleasing/natural
sounding transition.and creates expectation of the chord you’re going to.

You will often hear a simple chromatic modulation between the 4 & 5 chords or between the 1 & 4 chords.

It can get really involved and can be studied for years…


It sure can. Back when I was on the road with Rascal Flatts, they had a keyboard player that was one of the best musicians I had ever been around. During soundcheck on several days, I’d ask him to just improv through all the keys (all 12 of them), and I’d challenge him to modulate to each key in a different way. It was amazing! He blew my mind every time. I wish I video recorded it because I swear he played every single note on the 88 key pianer.


@Fiddle_wood - you sure know a lot about music, I’m always impressed by your answers to things.

@BanjoBen - rascal flats, Taylor swift, … just how many famous groups have you played with, anyway?!


haha…the smart sounding stuff is a quote.

I’ve mostly just picked up scraps of knowledge here and there over 40+ years ofj playing with people who knew more about it than myself.


here is an excerpt from a book I am writing for folks like me who just want the nuts and bolts of music theory without extras thrown in…


Book??? When does it get released and will Ben carry it in his store?

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Working on that with the Grand PooBah (Banjer Ben) hisself!

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That’s so neat! Can’t wait for it to come out! I could always use more theory…


Wow, that’s awesome!