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

Secondary Dominants

Peer reviewed by MERLOT

A secondary dominant is a chord that has been transformed to become a major or a dominant seventh chord. This chord will act as a temporary dominant of another chord. In major keys we can create secondary dominant chords of any degree, except the I, since it would be a simple dominant chord, and the VII since it is a diminished chord. Let's see an example...

Let's take this chord progression in the C major key and embellish it using secondary dominants:

First, let's prepare the IV degree chord by preceding it by it's dominant. The IV degree chord is F major and C7 is the dominant chord of F:

We write V / IV to indicate a secondary dominant of the IV degree. We refer to these chords as V of IV or V of V, etc.

Now, let's do the same with the V degree chord. The dominant chord of G is D7:

By using these secondary dominant chords we have added some harmonic interest to the original chord progression.

The first measures of Beethoven's first symphony are a good example of secondary dominants use. Note the use of secondary dominants of the IV and V degrees:

Here we show all the secondary dominant chords of all the degrees in the C major key:

Secondary Dominants

Diminished seventh chords have a similar harmonic function. They too can be used as secondary diminished seventh chords. Here we show all the diminished seventh chords in C major:

© 2011 J. Rodríguez Alvira

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