(musicTheory2) Lecture Notes: Secondary Dominants 2

Addition to Previous Post on Secondary Dominants

I left out an important step in the process for identifying and resolving secondary dominants when given the secondary dominant (without a resolution). Here’s the list of steps. Number 3 is new.

If you’re given a secondary dominant without a Roman numeral (like #2), use the following process:

  1. Identify the quality of the given secondary dominant.
  2. Use the quality of the secondary dominant to determine the temporary tonic.
    1. If the chord is a major triad, it is V/, and the temporary tonic is a fifth below the root.
    2. If the chord is a major/minor seventh chord, it is V7/, and the temporary tonic is a fifth below the root.
    3. If the chord is a diminished triad, it is vii°/, and the temporary tonic is a half step above the root.
    4. If the chord is a diminished seventh chord, it is vii°7/, and the temporary tonic is a half step above the root.
  3. NEW: Identify the harmony of the temporary tonic according to the given key. For example, in the key of C major A-C#-E-G is V7 of something. A fifth below A gives the temporary tonic D. D is the second scale degree of C major. So, the result is that the secondary dominant is V7/ii, moving to ii.
  4. Resolve the secondary dominant according to its tendency tones and partwriting guidelines. Depending on the inversion of the secondary dominant, you may end up with a root position or first inversion triad as the temporary tonic. Note: you should never end up with a temporary tonic in second inversion.
  5. Label both the secondary dominant and the temporary tonic with the appropriate Roman numerals, with proper inversion for the secondary dominant, and proper inversion of the resulting temporary tonic for its chord. For example, V42/V – V6 is the proper labeling of a chord sequence. We indicate the inversion of the secondary dominant and the temporary tonic, but we don’t have to bother with labeling the inversion of the temporary tonic as part of the secondary dominant. (V42/V6 is not necessary)
    The temporary tonic will be a diatonic harmony in the key.

Common Tonicizations

In major, in descending order: V, IV and ii, vi, iii. You never tonicize the leading tone harmony (vii° or vii°7). Tonicizing V can occur either as a substitution for a predominant harmony (ii or IV), or as a chromatic insertion between a predominant and dominant harmony. In the former case, the secondary dominant is essential, and its bass and soprano will be stemmed in your analytic reduction. If the latter case, the secondary dominant is embellishing. It’s Roman numeral will be in parentheses, it’s note heads unstemmed in reduction, and you will slur from the predominant to the dominant in the soprano and bass.

Tonicizing V is quite common leading into Half Cadences, with V7/V acting as an essential predominant harmony. It is also common as part of a tonic prolongation to begin phrases (I – V4,2/V – V6 – I). Tonicizing IV usually happens at the beginnings or ends of phrases (as a tonic prolongation in both cases). V7/ii can be used in harmonic sequences (V7/ii – ii – V7 – I). V7/vi and vii°7/vi can occur as part of deceptive progressions, strengthening the deceptive move to vi.

In minor, tonicizing III with a secondary dominant does not require chromatic alteration, and sounds as if you are moving temporarily to the relative major. Tonicizing VI only requires alteration if you have the chordal seventh present. It is possible to tonicize VII in minor (but not #^7).

Secondary Dominants in Succession

It is possible to move from secondary dominant seventh directly to another secondary dominant seventh. (For example, V7/iii – V7/vi – V7/V – V7/V – V7 – I) When a secondary dominant seventh chord moves to another dominant seventh chord (secondary or primary), special voice leading is required. The chordal seventh will resolve down, as usual, to the leading tone (chordal third) of the next dominant seventh chord. The leading tone of each dominant seventh will move down by half step (m2 or A1) to be come the chordal seventh of the next chord. The result will be two voices moving down by half steps over the chain of seventh chords.


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