Topic: Secondary Dominents

Ok here is a challenge for you all.

Who can explain what a secondary dominant is and what its function is in music?

Re: Secondary Dominents

Okay. Let me try here. I don't know much about it but I can try to get the basics of it across.

First of all, it is also called an applied dominant. Just a random fact. Basically, if this makes sense, it is the dominant of the different degrees (II through VI) of a scale.

A diatonic C scale has six basic chords. These are C Major (I), d minor (II), e minor (III), F Major (IV), G Major (V) and a minor (VI). The dominant chord in the key of C is the fifth chord, G Major. But each of the chords from II - VI have their own dominants. For example, the sixth chord, a minor, has a dominant chord of e minor. Likewise, the third chord, e minor, has a dominant of b minor.

Since these chords are not part of the key of C, because they contain notes that are not part of the C Major scale, they are called secondary dominants.

As to the use of secondary dominants in music... I don't exactly know. I do know that they are used to make different harmonies but past that I couldn't tell you. I hope that makes sense...


Re: Secondary Dominents

Yes well done this is correct.

Basically in music, if you play the 5th chord (V) there is a very strong pull or resolve (also called a cadence) to the first chord (I).

The idea is, that whilst the secondary dominants do not contain the notes of the key you are working in, they have such a strong pull to the chord that is within the key due to the V- I relationship.

You would not just throw a secondary dominant randomly into a song, it would almost always come before the relevant I chord -

For example in the key of C we have

Cmaj7  (I) - Dmin7 (ii) - Emin7 (iii) - Fmaj7 (IV) - G7  (V) - Amin7 (vii) - Bmin7b5 (viii)

A classic progression here would be the I, IV, V progression so in this case C, F and G7

If we wanted to use a secondary dominant here we have two options. The I chord does not have a secondary dominant as the V of I is already part of the scale - This is the G7 chord. If you play between the G7 and the C you will hear how the G7 wants to resolve to the C.

The secondary dominant chord of Fmaj7 is a C7 - play between these 2 chords and you will hear the pull.

The secondary dominant of G is a D7 - again you can hear how the D7 wants to resolve to the G.

A secondary dominant chord will always come before the note it is resolving to. This means you cannot just stick it in anywhere or it will sound very odd.

Here is an example of the chord progressions we were looking at earlier with the addition of the secondary dominant.

C - C7 - F - G - C

Here we have added the C7 before the F - The C7 pulls us towards the F despite in not being part of the C major Chord scale.

These secondary dominants are all over the place in the world of music. Once you get to grips with the sound you will begin to pick them up by just listening.


Re: Secondary Dominents

I'll take a stab at it:
If you take this progression:
||C | Dm | Am | G || - we are in C major
You can play the 5th (dominant) chord of any of these chords before the chord.
The fifth chord of Dm is A7. Dominants are always 7 chords (I hate to say always ... but I have never seen a minor secondary dominant).
So you could play an A7 before the Dm:
||C | A7 Dm | Am | G ||
||C A7| Dm | Am | G ||
You could do the same for the rest of the chords (Am, C and G). The dominant (5th) shord of Am is E7, so with an Am secondary dominant, you'd have:
||C | Dm | E7 Am | G ||
||C | Dm E7| Am | G ||

If you do it for Dm, Am, and G you get:
||C | A7 Dm | E7 Am | D7 G ||

The secondary dominants are only harmonised with the chord that follows them, not the tonic chord.

If you put a secondary dominant for C, it woul look like this:
||C | Dm | Am | G G7|| or, less likely:
||G7 C | Dm | Am | G ||
Since C is the tonic chord, it would be a bit odd to put a G7 on the first beat of the progression, it would throw people off - like saying: "Hey, we're in G", when you really in C"

You can extend this idea ... adding the secondary dominant of the secondary dominants (terciary dominants?). It sounds complicated, but just look at it like this: If this was your progression that you started with:
||C | A7 Dm | E7 Am | D7 G ||
You could put the secondary dominant of A7 (E7) before A7:
||C E7| A7 Dm | E7 Am | D7 G ||

and so on ....

||C E7| A7 Dm | B7 E7 Am A7| D7 G ||?

and there's more ... another day.

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Re: Secondary Dominents

Well done, and explained.



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