I mean what are those degrees that some people call Dominant? Like they say that the V and the bVII in Ionian are the dominant? I don't get it

And there are dominant scales too? I'm getting so confused waaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Last edited by DBKGUITAR at Jun 24, 2013,
The fifth scale degree is the dominant scale degree. Dominant function chords are chords that function the same as the chord built on the dominant scale degree, that is to say that they resolve onto the tonic chord. The reason they resolve like they do is because of the tritone they have between the fourth and seventh scale degree, which resolves down and up respectively.

For example, in C the dominant chord would be GBDF, which has seven (B) and four (F) which resolve to one (C) and three (E) respectively. The viidim chord is also dominant function because it's BDF which also has that tritone that resolves in the same way.
Wel dominant is the 5th and arguable the 7th scale degree of a scale. So if you're in E, the dominant degree would be B and D#.

The effect of a dominant chord is like this V-I. They resolve strongly and naturally to I. Anytime you play a dominant chord you're most likely going to hear it resolve to the I, in this case E.

The "bVII" (it wouldn't be a flat 7) or diminished and half-diminished chords might be considered dominant because they have a leading tone, which resolves to I and may feel like a dominant chord.
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In scales, there is only one dominant tone, which is the 5th scale degree. The seventh degree is referred to as the leading tone.

4-Sub- dominant
7-Leading tone

The 5 and bVII bit alluded to early is referring to a dominant 7th chord. This means that they use chord- tones of 1,3,5,b7 from the root. These kinds of chords are found diatonically (within the key) built off the 5th scale degree, which as I said, is the dominant scale degree.
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it would probably help to just simplify everything to minor and major. none of this ionian dorian business - it's just an aggregate of buzzwords to confuse you

tonal music thrives on tension and resolution. the subdominant (sets up the dominant)->dominant (sets up the tonic)->tonic (resolution) relationship, mostly seen as I-IV-V-I, is the "purest" form of this

i wouldn't worry too much about anything but understanding your intervals and that relationship before you throw in mediants and such. KISS, keep it simple stupid
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Just when I get disheartened about the level of music theory shown by a lot of TAB contributors on UG, a thread like this comes along. Love seeing that there are UGers that have studied what we all are on here talking about. Great answers. Cheers to you all
I mean what are those degrees that some people call Dominant? Like they say that the V and the bVII in Ionian are the dominant? I don't get it

And there are dominant scales too? I'm getting so confused waaaaaaaaaaaaaa

I'd agree that the chords diatonic to a Major key that have the function of Dominant would be the V7 and viio - Basically the viio looks like a Rootless V7.

There are scales which have a Major 3rd and a b7, yes. Those are the same qualities of a Dominant chord, that distinguish it from other chord types.


Loosely, a dominant is anything that resolves to a tonic. If you're staying in one key, the note a 5th above the tonic is THE dominant. Half a step below the tonic (the leading tone) is dominant-ish, but it's resolution tendency is melodic, rather than harmonic.

it's important to remember that Dominant is a function, not just a place in a scale. Whether or not something is Dominant depends entirely on what the next chord is. You can build a dominant 7th chord anywhere in the scale, as long as the root resolves by 5th. Dominants are used just as often to change keys as they are to resolve to the tonic.


Wonk zone:

I would say the distinction between the leading tone and the dominant chord is very blurred in post-classical music. The harmonic distinction arises from Ye Olde Voice Leading traditions, where using the viiº chord as a dominant creates voice leading problems. In jazz, it's very common to voice a V7 as a viiº, but it's still called V7 to show the harmonic relationship. I would be quite confused if I read a jazz chart that had a bunch of half-step resolutions instead of ii-V-I's.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jun 24, 2013,