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Old 11-30-2012, 11:25 PM   #1
macashmack
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Some questions on functional harmony

So I've been studying some functional harmony, and have a few questions about things that confuse me (I might be completely off with all the stuff here, so if I am, could you point me in the right direction? Gotta learn stuff right )

Well, the first thing i found when searching it up was about the 3 different chord functions - Tonic, Sub-Dominant, and Dominant, and the diatonic chords that fit inside.

Tonic: I, iii and vi
Subdominant: IV and ii
Dominant: V and vii0 (I don't know hot to add a degree symbol)

Now, to my understanding, the reason the dominants act as "Dominant" (Pulling towards the Tonic) is due to the leading tone (seventh). Why would the iii chord be Tonic, then, when its fifth is the leading tone? Is it because of the major third? Is that the same reason that the IV acts as a Subdominant instead of a Tonic (because even though it contains the actual tonic note it doesn't contain the mediant? (but if you make the chord a IVM7, which you can, that is the mediant, so why would that not act as a tonic? Because of the root of the chord being the fourth? What if you inverted it?)

Now heres the swiss biscuit. How does one pull non-diatonic note chords into the mix? How do we know what function the none diatonic notes fit into? Is there a chart or some other thing that you could tell me?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:13 AM   #2
jazz_rock_feel
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The iii is a funny chord. Commonly you'll find it described as you've said here, which is that it functions as a tonic, but I find that tough to believe for two reasons. First, there's not a whole lot of instances where you'll find that to be true, unlike the I chord (obviously) and vi chord which very frequently will function as a replacement tonic. Second, it doesn't contain the tonic note which seems odd for a chord that could function as a tonic (and no, rootless chords are not a thing). It also doesn't ever really function as a dominant, even though it does contain the dominant scale degree and the leading tone. More than anything it just doesn't sound like a dominant resolution. By default then, I usually see it as a predominant (aka subdominant) chord. This will probably get some contention from other people, but fuck da police.

As for your IV chord questions, use more ear and less logic.

For the non-diatonic question, there's a lot of ways non-diatonic notes can function and there's no overarching chart or something to describe it.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:22 AM   #3
macashmack
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So the IV chord is a little more loose in this sense? Okay, that's cool.
So should i just get a solid hearing/understanding of the diatonic and then work in the chromatic and figure out my own shit for it?
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macashmack
So the IV chord is a little more loose in this sense? Okay, that's cool.

Not really. I meant that you're kind of over thinking it. The IV sounds like it's moving away from the tonic and towards the dominant, it doesn't sound like a tonic chord at all.
Quote:
Originally Posted by macashmack
So should i just get a solid hearing/understanding of the diatonic and then work in the chromatic and figure out my own shit for it?

Definitely get a solid grasp of the diatonic before you start looking at chromatics. But know that there are basically three types of chromatic notes you'll find:
1) Secondary dominants
2) Borrowed chords/modal interchange/mixture (these are all the same thing and you can more or less throw chromatic mediants in this category).
3) Melodic decoration (suspensions, ******ations, appogiaturas, neighbour tones, passing tones).

Virtually any chromaticism will fall into one of those categories.
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