#1
Okay so american girl is in D major right?

Then why is there an E7 chord in the song?
According to what I'm reading online, the chord should be Em or Em7.

Can someone explain to me why E7 works with the song?
this is a post. there are many like it but this one is mine

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#2
There are no rules in music, I used to think there were. So basically if it sounds right, it is.

I don't know the song well but looking at chords it seems to have D E7 then G.

Now in the D chord you have a D note, and an A note.
In E7... a D note and a G# note
And in G.... a D note and a G note

So it's going A, G#, G, a chromatic (down in steps) descending passage. The D in each of the chord makes the leap seem smaller between the E7 and G I find, as they both have the note B in them too.
#3
a few reasons...

E7 is a passing chord...

temporary key change..a key change can just be for 2 bars

used to harmonize the melody...some time this is one of the "it just sounds good" chords

play well

wolf
#4
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/tabs/g/goo_goo_dolls/american_girl_tab.htm

It is not a passing chord or a key change.

People are correct, that there is no rule to say you can't use an out of key chord.

I think this particular chord would be 'exlained' by theory as being a secondary dominant, in this case it is the 5th of the 5th degree, ie E is the 5th of A, which is the 5th of D.
However, often these chords are used to cadence back to the root, in this case D, this does not happen in this song. I can;t help you any more than that!

Good song though.


edit - bit embarrassed, i just found out it is originally a Tom Petty song. I thought it was Goo Goo Dolls!
Last edited by branny1982 at Dec 17, 2009,
#5
^What he said. It would be called a "non functioning secondary dominant".

Breaking this down you would understand the term "dominant" as being the chord built off the fifth degree (the V). So the dominant in D is A major.

A "secondary dominant" is when you build a dominant chord off the fifth degree above a note other than the tonic.

So if you built a chord off the fifth degree (the dominant) above the fifth degree (the dominant) you get the "dominant of the dominant" or a V/V chord. In D major the dominant is A the dominant above A is E or E7.

Similarly if you built a chord off the fifth degree above the third degree you would get the dominant of the mediant or the V/iii. In D major the iii is F♯m the dominant above this is C♯major or C♯7.

Those are both examples of a "secondary dominant".

A "Functioning Dominant" is one that moves down a perfect fifth to the tonic.

Similarly, a "Functioning Secondary Dominant" is when a secondary dominant is followed by a chord with a root a perfect fifth down.

So when that V/V is followed by the V (for example in the key of D major when the E7 is followed by A) or that V/iii we looked at is followed by the iii (in the key of D major when the C♯7 is followed by the F♯m) it is conisidered "functional"; because it is functioning like a dominant of that chord.

Make sense??

So take any scale degree from the key you're in. Go up a perfect fifth. Use that note as the root for a major chord (or a dominant seventh) and you have a secondary dominant. Move to the "in key" scale degree you started on and you have a "Functioning Secondary Dominant".

So a "Non Functioning" dominant or subdominant is simply when the dominant or secondary dominant is not followed by a chord with a root a perfect fifth below (or a perfect fourth above).

How to recognize secondary dominants - through function -anytime you have a major chord moving to a chord a perfect fifth below it you can consider it a secondary dominant. A functioning secondary dominant is often but not always a dominant seventh chord.

A non-functioning secondary dominant on the other hand is almost always a dominant seventh chord type that doesn't seem to belong.

Anyway that's secondary dominants. Hope it made sense.

Good Luck
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Dec 16, 2009,
#6
My theory is pretty strong for diatonic, so I find the exploration of outside chords, and substitutions to be very interesting for opening up more compositional options. So, just to keep it melodic, play on tones of the 3 or b7 over the E7 as best choices?

It makes sense now on some of the chord substitutions in jazz I've been running into and some Coltrane that Ive been studying. So basically build a Dom out of the 5th of any triad in a given key.

Here's an odd question, though, seeing as I haven't tested it. could we have gone to the Bb7 as a b5 sub for a Non Functioning secondary dominant E7?

Very cool discussion - Im self taught in all things chords and theory especially diatonic, but its this outside stuff which fascinates me.
#7
Quote by Sean0913
So, just to keep it melodic, play on tones of the 3 or b7 over the E7 as best choices?
If that's what sounds right to you. You could use the root (E) which is in the key of D major or the fifth (B) which is in the key of D major. Or you could add a ♭3 in your melody to give it a bluesy kind of feel - just listen and keep it tasteful.

Quote by Sean0913
It makes sense now on some of the chord substitutions in jazz I've been running into and some Coltrane that Ive been studying. So basically build a Dom out of the 5th of any triad in a given key.
Pretty much that's secondary dominants.

Quote by Sean0913
Here's an odd question, though, seeing as I haven't tested it. could we have gone to the Bb7 as a b5 sub for a Non Functioning secondary dominant E7?
Interesting question the answer I would give is that you can do whatever you want, just make sure the resulting sound is what you're after.

Typically though the tritone substitution is used when the dominant 7 chord is functional (resolves down a perfect fifth). I haven't really seen it employed on a Non Functioning Secondary Dominant. But that's no reason to stop you experimenting and trying new things.

*******************

BACK TO "AMERICAN GIRL"

So far we have discussed "what" the E7 is but not why it works.

I don't know the song but I looked at the chord sheet here on UG. If the tab I looked at is right the verse is D E7 G A. The E7 is a non functioning secondary dominant as discussed previously.

I II7 IV V.

Someone once gave me a chord progression as I ? IV V and said fill in the blank with whatever you want.

It's a pretty standard trick. I I IV V is so familiar to us we can almost throw anything, no matter how butt ugly, into that second bar and the IV V - I will redeem it. You could think of it as a "flavour" chord spicing up a familiar to the point of bland recipe.

I'm pretty sure originally it started as a I I IV V then some standard diatonic substitutions in place of the second bar of the tonic I chord got us I iii IV V and I vi IV V and a dominant substitution for that I chord gives us I V IV V (all very common chord progressions).

Also fairly common is the borrowing of the ♭III and ♭VI from the parallel minor to get I ♭III IV V and I ♭VI IV V.

Then of course you get substitutions on the substitutions and things get crazy. The easiest way to look at it can simply be I ? IV V - fill in the blank.

Many many a great songs have used this simple idea but one of my favourites is a John Lennon number "I'm So Tired" (The Beatles). In this song he uses I VII7 IV V here the VII7 is a non functioning secondary dominant of the iii so you could also write it as I V7/iii IV V. It's a great use of the chord as Lennon expresses musically his tiredness as he sings the word "tired". (On the second pass he uses the diatonic vi instead I vi IV V as we just discussed).

Anyway just thought I'd share.

Peace out - Im' late for work!!
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Dec 17, 2009,
#10
So I finished work and now I wanted to elaborate on WHY the E7 works.

Theory after all is not just about naming things. It's all well and good to say oh that's a non-functioning secondary dominant. But that does nothing to explain WHY the non-functioning secondary dominant "works" in the context it is in.

One reason it works is in the last post I made regarding the progression - I ? IV V.

Other reason's require a more in depth look at what is going on in the chord changes.

To do this I often look at the way the individual voices move between each chord paying attention to chromatic lines, diatonic lines, and the creation and resolution of tension.

D E7 G A.

Right we are in the key of D. E we know is the second degree.

In this initial change the root movement is from D to E (up a whole step).

If we look at the Fifth in the tonic D chord we have an A. When we move to the E7 that A moves down a half step to become G♯ the major third in the E7 chord and the offending out-of-key note. This note then moves down another half step to become the root note of the G chord. So we get a nice little chromatic line as we move through the chords.

This creates a descending chromatic line A G♯ G while at the same time the root movement forms a contrary motion (moving in the opposite direction) as it ascends D E G.

That G♯ also creates a tension in it's tritone relationship with the tonic D which is also present in the E7 chord. As the G♯ drops a half step to become G in the G chord the D remains to become the fifth of the G chord. The tense tritone then resolves itself nicely into a perfect fifth with a simple half step move.

There's a bunch of other things going on in this progression that make it pretty cool but it's that G♯ that was bugging you and the reason it works is, at least partly, due to the way it links the A in the D chord to the G in the G chord, and the way it creates tension through it's tritone relationship against the D that is then resolved to a Perfect Fifth.


Or something like that. :p
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Dec 17, 2009,