#1August 14th, 2009 · 12:45 PM
102 threads / 59 songs
204 posts
Lesson 10: Applied Dominance
Applied Dominance

We come now to one of my favourite topics in harmony. So far we've been limiting our discussion to chords in a key that can be written without accidentals (at least in major keys), now we're going to vastly widen our scope and examine how modulation can be used to improve our writing.

You remember how we said that dominant chords (V and viio in major) always move to tonic chords right? Well using some modulation, we're going to show how we can use dominant chords in different keys to act as dominant chords in our key.

If you're familiar with bluegrass, blues, or jazz you've probably heard the phrase "two-five". A two five is the most basic type of applied dominant chord progression. As the name implies, it is the progression from II to V however notice that I've capitalized II (instead of ii). That's because we'll be using the major II which means we'll need to raise its third (scale degree 4). What we get it this.

In C major:

A     B
F#   G
D     D
II      V

Notice how I've written the chords. F# is moving to G, the root of the V chord. If we pretend we're in the key of G major this becomes a very familiar progression, an authentic cadence. But we're not in G major, we're in C major. We're using the II chord to act as a dominant chord over V. Thus when we see this in a piece of music we don't denote the chord II, we write VV, V of V (i.e. the V chord in the key of G, or the dominant of C).

We don't only apply this to dominant chords. Another very common progression is I to I7 as a dominant seventh chord to IV. Let's have a look:

In A:

A    G     F#
E    E     D
C#  C#  D
A    A      A
I      I7     IV

Here the I7 chord acts as a dominant chord on the IV. We emphasize this dominance by using a dominant seventh chord instead of just a triad. We would write this chord V7IV, or V7 of IV.

We can stack this effect and apply dominance to applied dominant chords. One of my favourite examples (and a great song) is Ophelia by The Band. The progression looks like this:

| C | E | A | D | F / G | C |

Or in our notation:

I - VVVV - V VV - V V - (IV) - V - I

The progression from E to G goes in descending fifths with the exception of the F which we'll consider a passing chord.
#2October 27th, 2009 · 01:14 AM
89 posts
Ha ha ha well it is going to take me quite some time to digest all of this lol.  Indeed   Thank you for your work on these lessons though, I appreciate them.
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