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Thread: Secondary Dominants

  1. #1
    Floydy
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    Secondary Dominants

    Hi can soneone pleas explain secondary dominants to me? as far as i know they are basically a dom type chord played a 5th above the dominant chord of the key your in. I want to know if u can play a dom chord a 5th above any of the other chords found in the scale like II or VII or whatever, and also anything clever related to them ok thanks alot

  2. #2
    Mode Rator Zatz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wudluv2sweep
    I want to know if u can play a dom chord a 5th above any of the other chords found in the scale like II or VII or whatever
    Yes. The whole idea about secondary dominants is shifting the 'tonal center', relatively stable area, pretending the next chord is tonic-flavoured. So you can apply dominant operator before any chord. Moreover, you can use secondary dominants in series, meaning there can be tertiary dominants and so on - so that if you denote secondary operator as D(of some chord), the constructions like DD...D(of some chord) can be encountered in actual progressions.

    Example 1:

    D7 -> G7 -> C (in C major) can be analyzed as:

    D(V7) -> V7 -> I or
    DD(I) -> D(I) -> I

    Theoretically, you can use all the dominants that can be found on the degrees of the circle of fifths to anticipate the tonal center, pumping tension in such a way.

    The secondary dominant can be complex - the dominant constructions (mixed) might be also be used to introduce some chord.

    Example 2:

    * S(subdominant)-D(dominant) operator:

    Say, we have an original progression in C major:
    F -> G -> C (IV -> V -> I)

    ...and we feel the need to extend it. Let's introduce the F chord with S-D construction. We now have to pretend F major is our temporary tonic and put IV(subdominant) and V(dominant) degree (relative to F major tonality!) chords before it:

    (Bb -> C7) -> F -> G -> C

    * ii-D(dominant) operator:

    * etc - you can come up with tons of ideas here

    BTW, in a similar manner there are Secondary Subdominants

    Warm regards,
    Zatz.
    Last edited by Zatz; 11-16-2004 at 10:04 PM.
    Zadd9 -> A6 -> T#9b5 -> Zmaj7

  3. #3
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    my problem is determining when's a good time to use them. they don't yet jump out at me in songs, so i rarely notice them in use. (then again, for the past year i have been a very casual music listener.)

    is there some cue, when you're writing, that make make you think 'ah. maybe now's a good time for one of those?"
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  4. #4
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    This is my first time referring to them as secondary dominants. Thanks for that.
    I typically just think of cadences at the end of a progression as having a II7-V7-I turn around.
    In this case, If we were in the key of say Em, and the chords in this full cadence were F#7-B7-Em, the II7 F#7 can be considered the Dominant for for the key of Bm and B harmonic minor could be used. You could also use the scale of F#Dim or even GDim7 Arpegio. When the Progression reaches the V7 (or B7) then E harmonic minor or F#Dim7 Arpegio. and finally resolve into Em or E harmonic minor (using the D# as a passing note)

    In the case of i-I7-IV Where as the chords are Em-E7-Am,
    When you hit the E7 I would think of this as a key change to A harmonic minor resolving to Am. Also the FDim7 Arpegio would be in order over the E7. You acan do my favorite thing here ans sing out that F for all to hear.
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  5. #5
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    You'll have to have a full understanding of the diatonic chords to understand secondary dominants. Basically the secondary dominant chord is the dominant chord of any of the diatonic chords in any key. As an example, these are the diatonic chords in the key of C (with the roman numerals):
    I Cmaj
    ii Dmin
    iii Emin
    IV Fmaj
    V Gmaj (or G7)
    vi Amin
    viio Bdim

    The secondary dominants in this key would be.
    V/ii A7
    V/iii B7
    V/IV C7
    V/V D7
    V/vi E7

    There is no secondary dominant for the viio chord because there is no key of B diminished and the I chord already has a dominant chord, G7 in this key.

    I wrote an article for IBM on composing music that explains secondary dominants a bit:

    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/article/126

    -CJ
    Last edited by ChrisJ; 11-17-2004 at 02:23 AM.

  6. #6
    Registered User fortymile's Avatar
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    can they just be thrown in any old place?
    "All bad poetry is sincere" -- Oscar Wilde

  7. #7
    Mode Rator Zatz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fortymile
    my problem is determining when's a good time to use them. they don't yet jump out at me in songs, so i rarely notice them in use. (then again, for the past year i have been a very casual music listener.)

    is there some cue, when you're writing, that make make you think 'ah. maybe now's a good time for one of those?"
    For me, the most practical use of all those progression extension tools is embellishing the 'boring' parts of accompaniment - say, when you have to play some static chord over couple of measures. In this case you might want to add some movement to the whole background and if the melody allows for such a liberty or its texture is rarefied, then it's a good idea to resort to these tricks.

    Sometimes secondary dominants are quite obvious but in most cases they will appear as a result of reharmonization - after the initial background has been laid. Still I admit that highly experienced folks are capable of hearing those add-in on the fly.

    Zatz.
    Last edited by Zatz; 11-17-2004 at 07:53 AM.
    Zadd9 -> A6 -> T#9b5 -> Zmaj7

  8. #8
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fortymile
    can they just be thrown in any old place?
    They usually get inserted before the diatonic chord. Using my last post as a reference, if this is your progression:

    (I) C - (ii) Dmin - (iii) Emin - (IV) Fmaj - (V) G - (vi) Amin - (viio) Bdim - (I) C

    With the secondary dominants:
    (I) C - (V/ii) A7 - (ii) Dmin - (V/iii) B7 - (iii) Emin - (V/IV) C7 - (IV) Fmaj - (V/V) D7 - (V) G - (V/vi) E7 - (vi) Amin - (viio) Bdim - (I) C

    Again, check the article, it shows how to use them.
    -CJ

  9. #9
    In the woodshed rmuscat's Avatar
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    tricks? how many?

    I suggest you give a look at that article. It pretty much covers things at the right depth.

    then it's a good idea to resort to these tricks.
    Are there enough of these little tricks to open a thread? Or is the article essentially enough. I'm just asking - i don't know if there are anymore things which would be good to know.

    Example yesterday in this thread:
    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ead.php?t=6344

    i learned this application to diminished chords (thanks to phantom)
    a diminished chord could be placed in front of basically any chord for a little "in between" resolution.so it is: A | Bbdim7 | Bmin7

    Or are these little "tricks" all not so obvious as the above mentioned two?

    Thanks (sorry Wudluv2sweep i partially hijacked your thread)
    Edwin Land: Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.

  10. #10
    Detroit VidKid's Avatar
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    For variety, you can also use a Secondary Leading Tone, a diminished seventh chord, instead of Dominant 7th chord. They function in the same manner as a Secondary Dominant, except they are built a 1/2 step below the root of the following chord. The diminshed chord used in this manner can also be analyzed as a V7-9 chord in 1st inversion with no root.

    Cmaj
    ii Dmin
    iii Emin
    IV Fmaj
    V Gmaj (or G7)
    vi Amin
    viio Bdim

    The Secondary Dominants and LeadingTone Chords in this key would be.
    V/ii A7 -or- Viio/ii C#o
    V/iii B7 -or- Viio/iii D#o
    V/IV C7 -or- Viio/IV Eo
    V/V D7 -or- Viio/V F#o
    V/vi E7 -or- Viio/vi G#o

    VidKid

  11. #11
    Floydy
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    ok i read the article that plus responses, all seems alot clearer now. i have two more questions.

    1) if your playing something with pretty slow harmonic pace, then during the time you were sposed to play a secondary dominant, could you also play some chords that were diatonic to this secondary dominant.

    2) is it also ok to play altered dominants? (refering to the dom b9 inversion )

    thanks alot

  12. #12
    Detroit VidKid's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, I don't quite follow you in question 1, but in question 2, yes, you can play any type of altered V7 chord.

    Just insert these SD or SL chords anywhere before any diatonic chord to give a temporary feeling of tonic by the dominant or diminished relationship of its preceding chord, but there is no actual change of key signature.

    You may also approach any diatonic chord a 1/2 step above with some type of dominant chord (tritone sustitution). Some chords can be approach with a minor chord also. iii7 - biii7 - ii7

    Basically, start out with a simple diatonic chord progression and then add SD, LT, borrowed chords, stepwise progressions, chromatic harmony etc. to "jazz" up the original basic progression.

    VidKid

  13. #13
    In the woodshed rmuscat's Avatar
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    lol VidKid & all - how do you remember this stuff!?

    Thanks for your insite about Secondary Leading Tone. This will definitely need trying out.
    Edwin Land: Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.

  14. #14
    iBreatheMusic Modthor phantom's Avatar
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    there is one funny thing i stumbled over.


    if you have a flat5 substitution of an extented dominant cord:

    G9 - C#9

    you get altered tension with the ninth of the flat5 substitution:

    D# (ninth of C#9) would be a b13 to G

    if you alter the dominant substitution, you'll get a normal chord tone refering to G:

    C#b9 would have the D as the flatted ninth. wich is the fifth of G.

    same thing for all other alterations (b9 just as an example)

    funny thing i though - hope not to be too much off topic as dominant substitutions wasn't the actual topic.

  15. #15
    Mode Rator Zatz's Avatar
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    Yea, Phantom,

    I love the tritone magic too

    Quote Originally Posted by phantom

    if you have a flat5 substitution of an extented dominant cord:

    G9 - C#9

    you get altered tension with the ninth of the flat5 substitution:

    D# (ninth of C#9) would be a b13 to G

    if you alter the dominant substitution, you'll get a normal chord tone refering to G:

    C#b9 would have the D as the flatted ninth. wich is the fifth of G.

    same thing for all other alterations (b9 just as an example)
    Yes. Curious thing.
    Then, once you've got Gb13, there are two possible flat5 substitions based on both tritones that can be found in this chord:

    Gb13 = G B (D) F A Eb

    One tritone (B-F) - in bold, another (A-Eb) - in italics.
    So, the first substitution is C#7 (based on B-F interval), the second one is F7 (based on A-Eb interval):

    C#7 <- Gb13 -> F7

    Btw, Szulc wrote a very good article on this tritone madness.

    Zatz.
    Zadd9 -> A6 -> T#9b5 -> Zmaj7

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