Harmonic Functions

close menu

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

Harmonic Analysis

We will now use the concepts we have discussed to analyze a short piece by the Russian composer Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) called French Song.

The first step is to determine the key of the piece. We should first look at the key signature. In this case the key signature (a) has two flats. This means that is either B flat major or G minor. By looking at the first (b) and last (c) measures we see that it starts and ends with a G minor chord. We can then conclude that the piece is in the G minor key:

The G minor key can also be determined by the use of the F sharp note in the D major chord just before the last chord. D major is the dominant chord of the G minor key.

Once we know the key of the piece we can identify chords, inversions, degrees and harmonic functions. Let's take a look at the G minor key's chords. Uppercase roman numerals are used for major chords and lowercase roman numeral for minor chords. The o is used to identify the diminished chord:

In minor keys, the V and VII degrees are commonly altered. As a result we can have more than seven chords. In this case we have only used the raised seventh degree in the V and VII degree chords.

Let us now do a complete analysis:

Listen to the complete piece:

© 2011 J. Rodríguez Alvira

Are you a member of teoria.com?

Write to us!


Music theory questions? Visit our Google+ Community and we will try to answer. Google Communities

Tweet Follow @teoriaEng