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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: EDV] #2737309
05/17/18 12:48 AM
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I surely appreciate Keystring's and Gary's clarity on the confusion surrounding the two different uses of the term "dominant." I’ve never come across any explanation before that made clear this distinction in terms of quality and function. Thank you both!


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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: AprilE] #2737345
05/17/18 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by AprilE
I surely appreciate Keystring's and Gary's clarity on the confusion surrounding the two different uses of the term "dominant." I’ve never come across any explanation before that made clear this distinction in terms of quality and function. Thank you both!

April, one further bit of clarification.

In each key there is one and only one dominant 7 chord, so there are 12 in all, not counting enharmonic spellings. So in the key of C (or C minor) G7 is the dominant 7 chord of that key.

With that in mind, we really don't have a handy name for the chord. If I say that G7 is a 7 chord, there is a problem, because there are many kinds of 7 chords.

I have a friend, a very good teacher in jazz, who will use the name "dom7" for G7 or any chord like that. I have no problem with that. It's clear and handy, and this guy is a superb musician and a great teacher.

I was just pointing out that in very strict, formal theory the term "dominant" always refers to some kind of V chord. When jazz musicians refer to dom7s, they are talking about the chord itself most of the time, and not it's function. For function they say "V7 chord".


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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: EDV] #2737425
05/17/18 12:47 PM
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When I took formal theory we were given degree names for the actual notes in a key: (So in C major, C,D,E etc. become 1, 2, 3 etc. called "1st degree note" etc.), and then degree names of chords in Roman numerals (generically I, II, III, IV .... but with the convention of I ii iii IV to show minor chords (quality) in lower case letters; also shown as I, IIm, IIIm, IV as an alternative).

Then we were also given function names we had to memorize: 1 Tonic, 2 Supertonic, 3 Mediant, 4 Subdominant, 5 Dominant, 6 Submediant, 7 Leading note (but if it's a whole tone from the next Tonic, called I think Subtonic since it's lost its 'leading' quality). I puzzled why the overkill, then realized that these names described functions and relationships. The only ones that really made sense to me were Tonic and Dominant, because of the strong roles they play.

The word "dominant" has also come to mean "5th note" and "chord built on the 5th note" whether or not it has a dominant function. Personally I would prefer people to say what they mean and be precise about it. But maybe it's faster to say "dominant" than to say "5th note" or "chord built on the 5th note of a key".

Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: EDV] #2737434
05/17/18 01:22 PM
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A story: our music director at church walked by as I was puzzling out an accompaniment for a tune I was trying to play by ear. He stopped and said you need the subdominant chord there.

Well, yes, but I had to think about what that was, and then I wasn't sure. If he'd said "that's the IV chord" my fingers would have known what to play. Of course all of you are more expert and it would have meant something more to you. But it's an example of how formal language can differ from common usage.


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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: EDV] #2737519
05/17/18 06:02 PM
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Tim, I would have known what key you were playing in, and I would have said to play the IV chord that belongs in your key, giving you the exact chord. But if you asked me what chord that is, in any key, I'd say: "You need a IV chord there."

I would never say "sub dominant".

I WOULD say: "The first movement of the K545 Mozart Sonata returns to the sub-dominant when the main or principle or primary theme repeats in the recapitulation."

See my point?

Vocabulary is related to the moment and also to the style of music you are playing - and also you keep in mind the mindset of musicians you are working with.


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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: EDV] #2737631
05/18/18 09:39 AM
05/18/18 09:39 AM
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Let me add that in Russia and I guess in some European countries, too, the terms "tonic", "subdominant" and "dominant" are prevailing both in spoken language and in notation (T, S, D instead of I, IV, V). In Russia you will hear the term "subdominant" far more often then IV degree and in the mentioned case you would for sure hear, "Play the subdominant chord". The term is used for any style of music at any moment. It's just a synonym for IV degree.

I'm pretty surprised to know that in US there are situations when it would be inappropriate to call IV chord a subdominant chord.

Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: EDV] #2737665
05/18/18 11:48 AM
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Sub dominant is long, and it has no relationship to what is notated for chords themselves.

You will see it in things like sonata form analysis, but for a lead sheet you will usually see chord symbols with letters, and a lot of jazz players will use Roman numeral notation to show function. So I am very surprised at the "any style of music" comment.

For me it is a matter of brevity, not usage.

For my first year students I write out I through VII and the 7 chords we will learn in each key. I don't call and Fmaj7 chord a "sub dominant seven chord".

I have NEVER heard a musicians say:

I want you to play a mediant, submediant, super tonic dominant tonic progression when the goal is iii vi ii V I.

Who would do that?

That would be nuts.


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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2737671
05/18/18 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
The term is used for any style of music at any moment.

In order for a chord to be a "subdominant",there has to be function, or at least a definite key the music is in, and the music needs to be rather diatonic. There is music that meanders around not being in any particular key, either for long stretches or otherwise, to which you can give no function and also no degree. Yes, in the simple, simplistic Common Practice music we are often fed in formal lessons in some places, everything fits into those nomenclatures. Otherwise not necessarily.

Something more important:

In this thread we were sorting out confusion that was caused by mixing apples and oranges. A couple of us tried very hard to differentiate between QUALITY and FUNCTION. The explanation in the book was trying to explain chord quality by leaning on degrees and function names, which created massive confusion. When you are writing about these things, is this separately from the original topic, and going off into the function realm? (Several other people did as well.)

A couple of months I tried to help someone in another forum who was almost hopelessly tangled up in this chord-quality vs. chord-function conundrum because things apparently had been explained in that mixed up way. A chord quality is independent of function. A chord can be major whether it is the Tonic, Subdominant, or Dominant chord in a major key; or if it's a ii chord that has been made major by the composer just to sound cool. The notes C E G Bb (C7) do not necessarily denote a V7==>I movement or even a "deceptive cadence of V7==>vi. As a QUALITY, it is (in root position) a major triad topped by a minor 7.

This is what we've been trying to sort out. And for some reason, people keep coming back to functions and function names. Well, ok, Tim related a recent story that happened to him.

I had a teacher who emigrated from a Soviet block country and used the terms Dominant, Subdominant etc. Actually, he was fluent between different ways of naming things, and switched between them like a polyglot switches languages. I am not unfamiliar with these terms. But if I think back, the music I played tended to be Common Practice type.

Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: keystring] #2737686
05/18/18 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring

A chord can be major whether it is the Tonic, Subdominant, or Dominant chord in a major key; or if it's a ii chord that has been made major by the composer just to sound cool.

A warning to everyone: what you are calling a "ii that has been made major" will not be II in formal analysis. It will be V/V (five of five.)

I'm not supporting this convention, just explaining it. D major in the key of C becomes the V chord of G.

I personally find this absolutely ridiculous, since III VI II V I in the key of C will be E A D G C, circle of 5ths. That happens frequently in everything from pop to Mozart. Note the additional problem of upper and lower case numerals.

In formal theory:

V/VI to V/II to V/V to V to I.

I've argued against this thinking for decades. But as a teacher I have to be able to explain it in order to explain WHY there are more sensible ways to put in chords.


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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: keystring] #2737688
05/18/18 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring

In order for a chord to be a "subdominant",there has to be function, or at least a definite key the music is in, and the music needs to be rather diatonic.

I explain it this way:

In the key of C, F major is a IV chord. We can probably agree on at least this. So if we have a final set of chords that goes: C, G7, C: F, C, it's pretty obvious we have a IV I at the end, a kind of "amen" sound. Sub dominant for sure.

No problem.

And this can happen in any key.

That's a function.

In very simple music, function is clear.

But that same F chord may go anywhere in the world, and when it does, it is neither a IV chord nor a sub dominant, because its function changes totally.


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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: Gary D.] #2737693
05/18/18 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Sub dominant is long, and it has no relationship to what is notated for chords themselves.

You will see it in things like sonata form analysis, but for a lead sheet you will usually see chord symbols with letters, and a lot of jazz players will use Roman numeral notation to show function. So I am very surprised at the "any style of music" comment.



I can't imagine what a Russian would call a slash chord! Hee, hee.


gotta go practice
Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: Gary D.] #2737710
05/18/18 02:14 PM
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Gary, thanks for your explanations about quality vs. function, and for talking about the linguistic slippage between wanting to talk about "a 7 chord" (such as G7) and "all 7 chords" (e.g. Gm7, Gdim7, G7, etc.). (quote marks are not quoting directly from you, but marking off what I'm paraphrasing in my own way of thinking). Your way of describing these things helped me to clarify ways for me to talk about these things with other people that won't be confusing.


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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: EDV] #2737919
05/19/18 09:53 AM
05/19/18 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
When you are writing about these things, is this separately from the original topic, and going off into the function realm?


Yes, I have gone off topic. I just wanted to mention that in some cultures calling forth degree (and sometimes also even a triad on forth degree) "a subdominant" is prevaling practice. In Russia you can hear term "subdominant" in classical music, in jazz, pop, boogie woogie, everywhere (certainly I mean music based on a diatonic scale).

Subdominant (lower dominant) is a degree, for which a current tonic is a dominant. It is a third most important degree of a diatonic scale and I think it's a very good idea to always know where your subdominant is. I've recently read that subdominant triad is the most used chord in pop songs.

Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: EDV] #2737924
05/19/18 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Sub dominant is long, and it has no relationship to what is notated for chords themselves.

You will see it in things like sonata form analysis, but for a lead sheet you will usually see chord symbols with letters, and a lot of jazz players will use Roman numeral notation to show function. So I am very surprised at the "any style of music" comment.



I can't imagine what a Russian would call a slash chord! Hee, hee.


If you mean, say, ACF chord in a key of C major, it would be called "subdominant sextaccord" and notated as S6.

Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: Gary D.] #2737936
05/19/18 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by keystring

In order for a chord to be a "subdominant",there has to be function, or at least a definite key the music is in, and the music needs to be rather diatonic.

I explain it this way:

In the key of C, F major is a IV chord. We can probably agree on at least this. So if we have a final set of chords that goes: C, G7, C: F, C, it's pretty obvious we have a IV I at the end, a kind of "amen" sound. Sub dominant for sure.

No problem.

And this can happen in any key.

That's a function.

In very simple music, function is clear.

But that same F chord may go anywhere in the world, and when it does, it is neither a IV chord nor a sub dominant, because its function changes totally.


I see it differently. Every IV chord can be called subdominant because it has functional potential, "potential energy" of subdominant chord (and very recognizable sound, by the way, too), no matter if this potential is realized or not. Using your example I mean there is no difference if you go to C after F or you go to G after F, the F chord brings the energy of subdominant into harmony even if this energy is not realized and the chord is not (immediately) resolved.

Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2737941
05/19/18 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev

I see it differently. Every IV chord can be called subdominant because it has functional potential, "potential energy" of subdominant chord (and very recognizable sound, by the way, too), no matter if this potential is realized or not.

You can label anything with any name, and if it works for you, why not?

But what you are suggesting is not going to work for students.


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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2737963
05/19/18 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by keystring
When you are writing about these things, is this separately from the original topic, and going off into the function realm?


Yes, I have gone off topic. I just wanted to mention that in some cultures calling forth degree (and sometimes also even a triad on forth degree) "a subdominant" is prevaling practice. In Russia you can hear term "subdominant" in classical music, in jazz, pop, boogie woogie, everywhere (certainly I mean music based on a diatonic scale).

Subdominant (lower dominant) is a degree, for which a current tonic is a dominant. It is a third most important degree of a diatonic scale and I think it's a very good idea to always know where your subdominant is. I've recently read that subdominant triad is the most used chord in pop songs.

There is too much for me to explain, so I cannot respond. smile

Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2738020
05/19/18 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Sub dominant is long, and it has no relationship to what is notated for chords themselves.

You will see it in things like sonata form analysis, but for a lead sheet you will usually see chord symbols with letters, and a lot of jazz players will use Roman numeral notation to show function. So I am very surprised at the "any style of music" comment.



I can't imagine what a Russian would call a slash chord! Hee, hee.


If you mean, say, ACF chord in a key of C major, it would be called "subdominant sextaccord" and notated as S6.


When you say "if you mean," you suggest to me that this is not a notation familiar in your area.

If I play from a lead sheet (I don't at the minute, but when I was doing church music I did quite a bit) I am guaranteed to run into chords notated as slash chords. At my level it is not a function, as "subdominant sextachord" implies to me, but a notation. It tells me which keys to press. S6 is not a notation because it does not do that - for me.


gotta go practice
Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: Iaroslav Vasiliev] #2738043
05/19/18 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
If you mean, say, ACF chord in a key of C major, it would be called "subdominant sextaccord" and notated as S6.


Here in lead sheet land, no matter what the key, no matter what the function, that ACF would be notated as F/A. It means an F major triad, inverted to put A on the bottom.


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Re: Help me understand the G7 chord [Re: JohnSprung] #2738090
05/19/18 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
If you mean, say, ACF chord in a key of C major, it would be called "subdominant sextaccord" and notated as S6.


Here in lead sheet land, no matter what the key, no matter what the function, that ACF would be notated as F/A. It means an F major triad, inverted to put A on the bottom.


In your "lead sheet land" you have it right, unless you want to pick up standard music written anywhere in the world and be unable to read it.

Standard chord notation has nothing to do with function. I don't care what country you live in. You need to know how to read letter chords if you want to play with other musicians from around the world.


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