How to go from E minor harmonic to A minor harmonic?

Edited: November 8, 2018, 11:11 AM · Hi, I want to join two classical music melodies and I don't really know what to do. I'm looking for tips, any help is highly appreciated, since I'm a total rookie in composition. I want to do a simple transition, just a few notes.

Let me explain: the first melody is in the key A minor, but not the natural, the harmonic minor, which is like the natural minor except the 7th grade is sharp, so it's #G. This first melody later changes to E minor harmonic scale, and the first melody ends there.

Ok, let's go on. The first melody ends descending from a #D-E trill to an E. The new melody I want to play continuously is in the key A minor, harmonic again. It starts with an A. The problem is that if I play it just like that, it sounds weird, and I think I need to play some notes so i can change smoothly from E minor harmonic to A minor harmonic.

How can I approach this?

Replies (14)

November 7, 2018, 7:26 PM · I sayeth thus:
Thou overthinkst.
November 7, 2018, 7:30 PM · Paul -
It sounds as if your "Dorian Scale" notes are implying the secondary dominant of A minor - a B or B7 chord (V/V) which will resolve on the dominant E. I think it perhaps sound like the second melody should continue in E or Em because of that but you continue in Am.
It's hard to tell without seeing or hearing anything though - just a guess.
November 7, 2018, 10:35 PM · haha, I'll try to put it as nicely as I can but Cotton is exactly right: not only are you overcomplicating things, you're complicating things by using wrong terminology bordering on the absurd.

The best analogy I can think of would be along the lines of:

"I have a horse but it's got four wheels and an engine. I call it a horse, because it gets me from place to place"


Your "A dorian" scale is really just an E harmonic minor scale. As Paul suggested above, it normally implies that it wants to go to an E of some sort, most likely E7, which would then fit A Harmonic minor.

Harmnonic minor, natural minor, melodica minor, dorian, and all those modes are a related to harmony. It's a huge topic, but you have to know what chords go over your melody to make sense of all this. It's kind of a chicken and the egg thing, sometimes melodies come from harmonies, sometimes harmonies come from melodies.

Last but not least, without knowing what your melody is, no one can help you. When composing using a scale , each note of a scale has a different role in terms of importance, and the ones you emphasize often suggest the harmony.

Your question is too vague and the answer would also be too complex considering that the most basic harmony courses at the college level last an entire school year

Edited: November 8, 2018, 6:19 AM · Sorry, as you can all see I'm a beginner at this. I'll post the melodies later so you can give me a hand. I just want to create a bridge between melody 1 and melody 2.

Thank you, you're absolutely right, it's E harmonic minor. Let me change it.

November 8, 2018, 9:14 AM · Perhaps use a C to step from the E to the A?
November 8, 2018, 10:46 AM · Paul,
I'm not sure if you're overthinking or not. But it would help to actually SEE the music. Have you taken a class in harmony?

There many ways to modulate (go from one key area to another). One used in one time period would have been jarring to a listener in another. As Denis said, it's a little too complicated to post.

But a good starting place is simply to know what a "closely-related key is." It means a key within one sharp or flat, including the relative minor. So each key has 5 possible closely-related key. For example, D is closely related to G and A and their relative minors, but not to E. So maybe start there?

Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata is famous (and often used as an example in theory classes) for its modulation from C to E, two totally unrelated keys. But Beethoven does it so skillfully you don't notice.
Prokofiev, on the other hand, would beat you over the head with it so you couldn't help but notice.

Modulation is kind of an art all by itself.

Edited: November 8, 2018, 10:59 AM · Here it is:

The ending melody 1, in E minor harmonic should have a ritardando. The melody 2, in A minor harmonic is the one I'm trying to join. Notice also the tempo changes.

Edited: November 8, 2018, 12:39 PM · In this context, your first measure isn’t actually emphasizing the D#. I wouldn’t even’t look it at as an E harmonic minor scale (even though you could), for me the D# is just a neighbor tone on a very weak beat to give emphasis to the E.

If this is the only music you have so far, then the possibilities are near endless. You need to write more music, or figure out what harmonies you want over it.

Just with those three measures alone, the composition is actually more suggesting the key of Em than Am... no key change whtastoever:

the first beat of 2nd measure (E C B A), strongly suggest Am (the IV chord of Em)
The second beat suggest (B G F# E) Em
The third beat with the trill suggests a B7 suspension-release (G to F#)
The fourth beat suggests a resolution to Em
The next measure suggests Am throughout

You do not need a bridge between the measures, as it’s a quite standard harmonic progression. But if you felt you really needed one, you can split beat 4 in two , and have it go from E to the G# below (which suggest a secondary dominant od E7)

The last measure shouldn’t be thought of A harmonic minor either. That G# is just a neighbor tone to accentuate the A.


This is the most direct and obvious solution, but again context and intent matter a whole lot more, and ultimately your music could be anything. I can easily think of so many other possiblities. The one above is merely the most “traditional” and bread and butter style

November 8, 2018, 1:15 PM · I like it the way it is too. Just a little ritard before the key change and you're good to go.
November 8, 2018, 4:07 PM · If all else fails there is always the "trucker's gear change" :)
November 8, 2018, 4:49 PM · Paul,
In order for a minor scale to be called "harmonic," you need to have the relationship of the unraised 6th to the raised 7th. It's the augmented interval that makes it harmonic. So the first bar doesn't sound like E harmonic minor because you didn't present c natural going up to D#. Likewise, the second measure would have to have f natural to G#. But that's just splitting hairs with definitions.

No, the third bar does not sound like E minor. "Just a neighbor tone to accentuate A" is a leading tone.
The pitches E, A, and G# all emphasize A minor.

Basically, it sounds fine. A suggestion might be to use the E at the end of the second bar as a common tone: try tying it over to the next bar instead of going down to A.

But here's the real question: why are you starting in the key of E minor anyway? For most tonal music, it would be unusual. Of course, we don't know what is happening in the first bar. Is that a piano in A minor?

A more convincing chord to lead to A minor would be an E major chord: that would be the dominant of A minor and be very logical. What you have now is actually a v instead of a V chord. That doesn't make harmonic sense.

November 9, 2018, 3:04 AM · 3rd bar comes straight out of some well-known piece for flute by Bach! possibly after transposing :-) I agree with Scott, this is all in A minor and it is basically fine as is. Paul as you well know, E is the dominant note in A minor, so it is normal to have a lot of E's in an A minor piece :-)
November 9, 2018, 5:55 AM · You're fine. You're just going I-IV which is a totally normal thing. The trill and rit arguably overdramatise what is a very simple transition after not very much music - you are giving a heavy arrival on the tonic without going anywhere first. I'd suggest either extending the first section (a lot) - or weakening the end of the phrase, possibly by just omitting the crotchet E and resolving from the trill straight into A minor.
Edited: November 9, 2018, 10:47 PM · "No, the third bar does not sound like E minor. "Just a neighbor tone to accentuate A" is a leading tone.
The pitches E, A, and G# all emphasize A minor."

Depends what you mean by third bar. I don't count the first empty bar. And if you mean the bar that has E A and G#, i never once said it was Em.

The previous bar however has strong tendencies towards the key of Em , it starts as I said on what could be an Am, followed by Em, followed by B7 to Em. The new bar that changes tempo is definitely an Am chord

As to whether it changes key to Am or not is up in the air, as the composer has not shown what came before, what comes after, what style he's trying to convey... It could be anything , it can be harmonized in the most unpredictable ways... Only the composer can decide.

If you have the notes A C E, Am would be the most obvious harmony behind it, but a composer can put just as well turn it into a C major chord, a D7 chord, an F major chord, a G#7 chord with alterations, etc...

Seems like you're just trying to pick a bone with me for the sake of it ;-)


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