Secondary Dominant Chords: What In The World Are They?………
Secondary Dominant Chords: What In The World Are They?
Good morning. This is Duane. Today, I’d like to talk about the concept in music theory called secondary dominant chords. Do you know what a dominant is? It’s a 5-chord in any given key. In other words, if we’re in the key of F, C7 is the dominant, the 7th chord. Why? Because it leads back to the tonic chord. Remember the 1 chord is always called the tonic chord. If we’re in the key of C, C is tonic. If we’re in the key of D, D is tonic and so on.
The 5-chord, whatever it is, is called the dominant chord, the dominant 7th chord, and it leads back to the tonic chord. Nothing sounds more normal than that, does it? There’s another use for 7th chords in music theory called secondary dominants. They’re dominants, but they don’t lead home to tonic; they lead elsewhere. Okay? Listen to this. You’ve heard things like that. Or listen. Okay? There’s a lot of secondary dominants there too.
Let’s walk through those slowly. The first example, we’re in the key of G. The tune is “Spinning Wheel”. The first chord is E7. That’s a secondary dominant chord because it doesn’t lead back to G. It leads to A and A 7th leads to D, so it doesn’t lead to the tonic either. It’s secondary dominant, so there are 2 secondary dominants, E 7th and A 7th in the key of G.
In the other example, “Please Don’t Talk About Me While I’m Gone”, that’s go from the C at the tonic chord to the E 7th chord, but we’re not going to resolve back to the tonic chord, are we? We’re going to go to the A chord. That’s not going to resolve to the tonic either; that’s going to resolve to the D chord. That’s not going to go to the tonic either; that’s going to go to the G chord. Now we’re at the dominant 7th chord, so now we can go home to C.
Any 7th chord that does not resolve to the tonic can be used as a secondary dominant. Just a little think you ought to know about music theory. Purists will argue with me about whether they have to be 7ths and I understand that, but I’m not interested in arguing with purists anyway. I’m trying to help the average person understand a little more about music.
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