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Old 06-14-2015, 07:21 AM   #1
J23L
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Question about Dominant 7th Chords

After hours of digging through the internet, I'm still confused on the function of dominant 7th chords. Let's say i play a C7 (C,E,G,A#) what would that resolve to? If someone is well versed in this type of stuff i would greatly appreciate your help
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:30 AM   #2
GoldenGuitar
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Fmaj, also C7 is C,E,G,Bb. An augmented sixth is NOT the same as a minor 7th, although it may sound the same in equal temperament.
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:34 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by GoldenGuitar
Fmaj, also C7 is C,E,G,Bb. An augmented sixth is NOT the same as a minor 7th, although it may sound the same in equal temperament.

I just played a C7 to F and it sounds perfect, but why does it resolve to an F?
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:38 AM   #4
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Write up an F major scale and stack up all the notes in 3rds into 7th chords and you'll see. You can do the same with the F harmonic minor scale, and you'll note that you can also find a C7 in that. Since you can also resolve a C7 to an F minor chord, and a lot of other chords too if you count imperfect cadences, but I won't go into that now. Get this down first.

Last edited by GoldenGuitar : 06-14-2015 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:58 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by GoldenGuitar
Write up an F major scale and stack up all the notes in 3rds into 7th chords and you'll see. You can do the same with the F harmonic minor scale, and you'll note that you can also find a C7 in that. Since you can also resolve a C7 to an F minor chord, and a lot of other chords too if you can imperfect cadences, but I won't go into that now. Get this down first.

Thanks, i appreciate the help! I get it now :')
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Old 06-14-2015, 02:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by J23L
I just played a C7 to F and it sounds perfect, but why does it resolve to an F?


Because the dominant chord has all the leading tones of the tonic scale.

For example, G major is the dominant chord of C major

G B D F

The B note resolves to C, the F note resolves to E. This two notes are the leading tones of the C major scale.
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Old 06-14-2015, 02:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by emicyber
Because the dominant chord has all the leading tones of the tonic scale.

For example, G major is the dominant chord of C major

G B D F

The B note resolves to C, the F note resolves to E. This two notes are the leading tones of the C major scale.


The only leading tone is B, which leads upward to C. The F, as the minor seventh (in a tritone relationship with the B), needs to resolve the opposite way, which is downwards to either E-natural (major) or E-flat (minor).
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Old 06-14-2015, 04:15 PM   #8
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Stepwise contrary motion makes for smooth resolutions. Especially when a tritone is involved.
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Old 06-14-2015, 04:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by J23L
After hours of digging through the internet, I'm still confused on the function of dominant 7th chords. Let's say i play a C7 (C,E,G,A#) what would that resolve to? If someone is well versed in this type of stuff i would greatly appreciate your help


Have you learned to spell out Major Scales correctly and the Harmonized chords? If so, then go study Cadences. Then you'll understand.

I know you say that "you understand", but I'm not sure that you do. Like you might get that instance, but I'm not sure you get the big picture birds eye view of it.

I don't know what you know or don't so its too hard to tell if you're jumping around, or ahead, without the required foundation to understand an answer to that. We've had people like that before, one's liampje. He was notorious/legendary for asking similar questions.

What he would do, is post questions, and then pressure people to be his teacher, to literally teach him by proxy. He was a kid.

Maybe the hardest headed user I've ever run across that was ALSO ignorant.

Happy ending in his case: he grew up and learned in an organized way, basically deciding that, the advice we kept feeding him, wow, it was actually a good idea to follow.

Now when he shows up it's like, "Hey great to see you again, and now you know what you're talking about". But it took him a long long long long long time to figure out that learning in bits, just left him with a bag of "bits".

Best,

Sean

Last edited by Sean0913 : 06-14-2015 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 06-14-2015, 06:53 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by NeoMvsEu
The only leading tone is B, which leads upward to C. The F, as the minor seventh (in a tritone relationship with the B), needs to resolve the opposite way, which is downwards to either E-natural (major) or E-flat (minor).


Resolving either upwards or downwards, it's a leading tone.
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by emicyber
Resolving either upwards or downwards, it's a leading tone.

Pardon my disagreement, but we seem to have different mappings of terminology. I consider "leading tone" to denote scale degree seven strictly.

The other tone (4), I don't have a name for it, but it's been commonly called a tendency tone, the other tendency tone being scale degree 7.
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Old 06-14-2015, 10:43 PM   #12
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^This. There's only one leading tone.

Leading tones don't resolve down, that defeats the purpose of calling it a leading tone, which by definition resolves up by half step.
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Old 06-15-2015, 01:39 AM   #13
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In common practice, the term "leading tone" refers to the note one semitone below the tonic. But, most academics would also allow the minor 2nd above the tonic (descending to the tonic) in Phrygian. Historically, anything termed "leading tone" would point to the tonic, though. There was such a thing as the double leading tone cadence (e.g., major 6th expanding to an octave) during the Ars Nova (~1300-1430; at this time, polyphonic music was considered "multi-modal," so both the top and bottom finals were considered "tonics" in a way). In the example at hand (V7-I), there's just one leading tone; you'd simply refer to rest as "tendency tones."
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Old 06-15-2015, 03:04 AM   #14
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^Even more specifically the Major 7th scale degree. {EDIT} didn't see that post there{/EDIT}

The minor seven is not typically referred to as a leading tone.

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J23L

There are a few reasons why the C7 resolves to the F. The three key factors at play are...

The root movement down a perfect fifth (or up a perfect fourth).
The leading tone resolving up a semitone to the tonic.
The dissonant tritone in the dom7 resolving inward by half steps to become a consonant major third in the tonic.

Exploring each of these...

Root Movement
A string vibrates at many different frequencies at the same time. The pitch that we here is the fundamental frequency of the pitch. The string also vibrates in octaves of the same pitch at the same time.

After the fundamental tone the next most audible overtone is the perfect fifth (an octave and a perfect fifth) above the fundamental frequency.

For this reason when you have a note like C and you go down to F then you hear a relationship between the two notes where the C is a perfect fifth above the F and because that C is still present within the F note itself we retrospectively hear the F as being a logical kind of filling in of the sound below the C. It's as though the C was always the fifth above F and the tonic was missing until we moved to it. This is only heard retrospectively in the relationship between the notes.

So the root movement creates a sense of resolution in and of itself.

The leading tone.
The leading tone is only a half step away from the tonic. A half step is a very small interval and when your tonic has been clearly established then the leading tone will create a sense as though it is incomplete, a sense of tension that needs to be resolved by moving to the tonic.

If you play through a scale and stop on the major seventh degree you will hear how the major seventh scale degree sounds unresolved. When you move to the tonic it sounds complete.

When we harmonize the major scale in thirds the chord we build of the fifth scale degree also contains the seventh scale degree. Thus we have both the down a perfect fifth root movement and the leading tone as well.

The leading tone is such a strong resolution that when we are in a minor key the natural harmonization of the fifth degree gives us a minor chord with the minor seventh scale degree acting as a minor third in the v chord. So instead we take that minor seventh and raise it to a major seventh so that it becomes a major third in the V chord and when we use the major V chord to the minor tonic we still get both the dominant tonic root movement and the leading tone to tonic movement.

Tritone dissonance to Major third consonance
When we harmonize the V chord to become a dominant seventh chord we end up with a tritone.

The tritone is a dissonant interval. In the dom7 chord it occurs between the major third and the minor seventh of the chord (in relation to the tonic scale that is the major seventh and perfect fourth scale degrees)

E.G. In C7 the notes are C E G Bb. The distance between E and Bb creates a tritone (a diminished fifth). In relation to the tonic F the E is the major seventh scale degree and the Bb is the fourth scale degree.)

The tritone is a dissonant scale. Try playing just the E and Bb together and listen to how it sounds.

When we move to the F these two notes move in opposite directions toward each other to form a major third.

The E moves up a half step to F while the Bb moves down a half step to A creating a F-A major third in the tonic chord.

So in summary these three factors all individually create a strong sense of resolution. We can in fact use any of these concepts to create a sense of resolution. When used all together however the resolution is strongest. Particularly when the chords are both in root position and the melody uses a leading tone to tonic movement for a perfect authentic cadence.
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Old 06-15-2015, 05:55 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by NeoMvsEu
The only leading tone is B, which leads upward to C. The F, as the minor seventh (in a tritone relationship with the B), needs to resolve the opposite way, which is downwards to either E-natural (major) or E-flat (minor).

What? The F in C Major resolves to E? Does the IV resolve to the iii in every major key? I had no idea the subdominant resolves to the mediant
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Old 06-15-2015, 06:34 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by J23L
What? The F in C Major resolves to E? Does the IV resolve to the iii in every major key? I had no idea the subdominant resolves to the mediant

No.

In a dominant 7th chord the 7th of the chord which is also the 4th scale degree of the key goes down a half step. It only "has to" resolve to the 3rd scale degree in a dominant-tonic progression. (Also, note that we are not really talking about chords, we are talking about voice leading.)

Also, this doesn't mean this has to happen always. It's not a rule that you need to follow. A dominant chord can be followed by other chords than just the tonic.

V7-vi is another progression where the 3rd of the dom7 chord resolves a half step up and the 7th of the chord resolves a half step down.

We only "need" to resolve the 4th scale degree down to the 3rd scale degree because of the tritone in the dom7 chord. The leading tone doesn't always resolve a half step up either, especially if we are using the iii chord. Em chord has a B in it, and it is the leading tone in the key of C major, but it doesn't function as one. Em doesn't have a dominant function in the key of C major.


Don't treat these (or anything theory related) as rules. Treat them as guidelines or common practices. You don't need to play V7-I or V7-vi if you don't want to. I would suggest just listening to music and figuring out what's happening. If it sounds good, it is good.
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Old 06-15-2015, 08:21 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
No.

In a dominant 7th chord the 7th of the chord which is also the 4th scale degree of the key goes down a half step. It only "has to" resolve to the 3rd scale degree in a dominant-tonic progression. (Also, note that we are not really talking about chords, we are talking about voice leading.)

Also, this doesn't mean this has to happen always. It's not a rule that you need to follow. A dominant chord can be followed by other chords than just the tonic.

V7-vi is another progression where the 3rd of the dom7 chord resolves a half step up and the 7th of the chord resolves a half step down.

We only "need" to resolve the 4th scale degree down to the 3rd scale degree because of the tritone in the dom7 chord. The leading tone doesn't always resolve a half step up either, especially if we are using the iii chord. Em chord has a B in it, and it is the leading tone in the key of C major, but it doesn't function as one. Em doesn't have a dominant function in the key of C major.


Don't treat these (or anything theory related) as rules. Treat them as guidelines or common practices. You don't need to play V7-I or V7-vi if you don't want to. I would suggest just listening to music and figuring out what's happening. If it sounds good, it is good.

I'm not sure if I completely understand this. Let's say we're in the key of Cmaj. The F in G7 would resolve to the E in Amin and the B in the G7 would resolve to the C in Amin? Is this right?

Last edited by J23L : 06-15-2015 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 06-15-2015, 09:29 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by J23L
I'm not sure if I completely understand this. Let's say we're in the key of Cmaj. The F in G7 would resolve to the E in Amin and the B in the G7 would resolve to the A in Amin? Is this right?

The G7 chord is root G, third B, fifth D, seventh F. Resolve the third up to C and the seventh down to E. (incidentally, this would likely induce a doubled third under common practice voice leading, as the fifth, to avoid parallel movement with the root, would resolve DOWN to C.)
Also, you're probably only going to be in one key, not both C and a.

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Old 06-15-2015, 10:11 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by J23L
I'm not sure if I completely understand this. Let's say we're in the key of Cmaj. The F in G7 would resolve to the E in Amin and the B in the G7 would resolve to the A in Amin? Is this right?

No. The B in G7 would resolve to C. It is the leading tone and leading tone "needs" to go up.

If we did it your way, it would create a parallel fifth (between B F and A E), and the "basic rule" in voice leading is to avoid parallel fifths.



This would be "correct" voice leading. This way we avoid parallel fifths and octaves, and this way the leading tone also functions the way it should. This is why we need to double the third of the Am chord.

But really, it's not that important. This is just how basic voice leading works. Again, they are just guidelines, not actual "rules". They just tell how different notes tend to behave.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine : 06-15-2015 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:42 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
No. The B in G7 would resolve to C. It is the leading tone and leading tone "needs" to go up.

If we did it your way, it would create a parallel fifth (between B F and A E), and the "basic rule" in voice leading is to avoid parallel fifths.



This would be "correct" voice leading. This way we avoid parallel fifths and octaves, and this way the leading tone also functions the way it should. This is why we need to double the third of the Am chord.

But really, it's not that important. This is just how basic voice leading works. Again, they are just guidelines, not actual "rules". They just tell how different notes tend to behave.

Ok, I understand better now. But just to be completely sure, The V7 chord can only resolve to the vi chord if the third interval in the V7 chord can resolve a half step up from the third interval in the vi chord and the 7th interval in the V7 can resolve a half step down. Is this correct?
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