Shifting Musical Gear (Or Key)

The Truck Driver’s Gear Change Hall Of Shame:

Many writers and arrangers feel that when their song is in risk of getting a bit tired, it can be given a fresh lease of life by shifting the whole song up a key, usually in between choruses, towards the beginning of a “repeat-till-fade” section. You may have heard this technique informally referred to as “modulation”, but the correct ethnomusicological term for the phenomenon is the truck driver’s gear change. This reflects the utterly predictable and laboured nature of the transition, evoking a tired and over-worked trucker ramming the gearstick into the new position with his or, to be fair, her fist.

Examples most people would know about are in The Beatles’ Good Day Sunshine and Penny Lane.

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