Key changes between Verse and Chorus questions

Hi all! I’ve been studying via both apps for some time now. I still can’t seem to wrap my head around the decisions some artists make. I look at the tabs for some artists and they’ll be in Bm in the verse, then in the chorus, the key I’m hook pad changes to E phrygian, for example. I’m not near my PC right now so I can’t remember the exact keys.

One band that does this a lot is Tame Impala. I’m trying to figure out how I can apply similar techniques to my own music, but when I write, I look up the 7 chords in say Bb, and play with only those chords.

Also, I have an idea for a song that goes Emaj - Fmaj. This can’t be in the key of Emaj because it would be I - II and from what I understand that wouldn’t work.

E major - F major could be I to bII borrowed from the phrygian mode (see chapter 6 of book 2).

Regarding your comment about mode changes, 2 things. I would say it’s much more common to remain in a mode but borrow from other modes in the same song (though going between relative major and minor is common). Sometimes it’s easier to think of the song in the same mode across all sections. There’s an inherent ambiguity in what mode a song is actually in (you can always choose to analyze the song in a relative mode) so it’s really about what makes it easiest to understand what is going on while trying to remain faithful to what the tonal center of the progressions are. You might try switching the mode of the sections of the song in the odd modes back so they are the same and see if the chords make more sense to you (make sure to change your settings so mode transpositions are relative so you’re not doing a parallel transposition and actually changing the song).


This info makes so much sense! I’m definitely going to apply this to my songwriting in the future. I read modal mixture a week or so ago but it makes a lot more sense now.

Is there any chance you could skim over a couple Tame Impala tabs and direct me to something that may talk about techniques they use? It throws my off so badly when I see one of their verses in X key, then the chorus is in a totally different key, but it works somehow.

Thanks for the reply!

EMaj - FMaj alone implies phrygian dominant (Mixolydian ♭9 ♭13), mode V of harmonic minor, or less commonly the double harmonic major. Without more information they cannot be assumed to “borrow” from another mode.