Harmonic Functions

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What are Harmonic Functions?

    The Tonic

    The Dominant and Subdominant

    An example using I, IV and V

    Identifying the I, IV and V degrees

    The II and VII Degrees

    The III and VI Degrees

    Harmonic Functions in Minor Keys

    Harmonic Analysis

Nonharmonic Tones

    Passing Tone

    Neighbor Note




    An Example

Secondary Dominants

    Secondary Dominants Examples

    Using Secondary Dominants


    The Dominant Chord

    The Pivot Chord

    Two Examples

    An Example from Bach

    Modulation to Distantly Related Keys

Augmented Sixths


    Major Keys

    Harmonic Function

    Tritone Substitution

    Musical Examples

Neapolitan Sixth

    Construction and Identification

    Major Keys

    Musical Examples

Other Tutorials:

Reading Music




Musical Forms

Related Exercises:

Harmonic Progresssions Dictation



  Seventh Chords

  Secondary Dominants

  Secondary Diminished Sevenths

  Augmented Sixths

  Neapolitan Sixth



  Seventh Chords

  Secondary Dominants

  Secondary Diminished Sevenths

The Dominant and Subdominant

The dominant and subdominant chords help define the tonic chord. The dominant chord is one 5th above the tonic and the subdominant chord is one 5th below:

These two chords create an harmonic tension that resolves into the tonic chord.

Listen in the next example how the subdominant (IV) and dominant (V) chords help define the tonic. Listen also how the subdominant chord leads us to the dominant chord in the 3rd measure. This example is in G Major and it begins with the dominant chord:

Key: G Major
Tonic (I): G major
Dominant (V): D major or D dominant seventh
Subdominant: C major

© 2011 J. Rodríguez Alvira

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