#1
Hi all,

I've been reading a bit about secondary dominants. I knew vaguely about them before, but I feel like some things are finally clicking and I'd like to hear what all of you think.

So as far as I have read, a secondary dominant is essentially the dominant of the dominant (i.e. the V of the V). It also appears that you can play the secondary dominant directly before the primary one, as it is momentarily causing the primary dominant to become the tonic and the V tends to heavily lead to the I. One thing I found pretty cool from just playing around that a standard Imaj7-vi m7-ii m7 -V7-Imaj7 can become Imaj7-VI7-II7-V7-IMaj7 by just using the idea of secondary dominants.

I also noticed that in a standard ii-V7-I you could use the same ideas to get II7-V7-I. But if we remove all of the sevens (which I'm assuming you can do?) You could get II-V-I. I found a progression I liked somewhere else, which was a I-bVII-IV. Now I see that this could be rearranged with the bVII as the tonic to actually be II-I-V, and that in reality it is just a 2-5-1 but with a different "tonal center"?

From the logic above we can see that the II7 is the secondary dominant of V7, but if we remove the 7s once again, couldn't we also say the interval is a 4th? I'm seeing that there is a way to build off from this, where you could be playing a dandy II-V-I, but then decide to use the II as the tonal focus and play II-V-I-II-V-VI-I, which would be kind of like playing a II-V-I but then modulating to the key of the II and playing a I-IV-V?

Sorry if this seems like gibberish or is overly obvious. It's just crazy to think back to all of the 12 bar blues I remember my music teacher having me play back when I first started getting into jazz/blues and finally understanding the substitutions. It's pretty cool how it can all essentially come back to the I-IV-V and the ii-V-I. I'm learning a bit about tritone substitutions also, but am still fiddling around. Let me know if you have any other cool observations I can tinker with.

Edit: dominate to dominant, guess something else was on my mind
Last edited by sarcoplasm at Apr 17, 2014,
#2
First, we'll start with saying they're called dominant chords, not dominate chords. Then, the thing about I bVII IV where you're changing the tonic for a moment is called tonicization, which happens a lot in Jazz. If you were going to tonicize the II chord, you'd want to playing your I chord as a V7/IV.

Jazz focuses a lot on tension and release so when you talk about changing the I-vi-ii-V to all dominant chords, essentially you're just creating a lot of tension.

One way to create a more interesting sound is altering your dominant chords, which often times should be done. Either playing a sharp or flat fifth or a sharp or flat ninth (or both) can help to create a more interesting sound and add tension. You also want to look at moving chords in a way so that you can create some sort of melodic movement in your top note a lot of the time, though not always necessary. Altering your dominant chords can really help achieve this. If I feel like procrastinating later (which I surely will), I can do up a little something exemplifying this and attach it here.

edit: Also, you don't want to remove 7ths in jazz. Even if a chord is marked as just C minor on a lead sheet, you want to think of it as a min7 chord.

edit2: I may also have read the bit about tonicization wrong, and it looks to me as though you may just be talking about deceptive resolutions. A good example of deceptive resolution is in "Ladybird" (you can easily find a lead sheet for it). The first four bars go Cmaj7-Cmaj7-Fmin7-Bb7 and then back to Cmaj7. As you can see, the Fmin-Bb is the ii-V of Eb, but instead it resolves to C. Tritone subs are actually a part of deceptive resolutions, so to learn more on tritone subs, you might want to just want to look at deceptive resolutions as a whole.
Last edited by Soccerguy at Apr 17, 2014,
#3
You can remove the 7th but it won't have as much tension as the chord with the 7th would have. It has more pull towards the I chord if you play them as dominant 7th chords and not as regular major chords.

bVII-IV-I is not a ii-V-I kind of progression. There's no dominant chords in the progression - and also the chords in a ii-V-I progression are always in this order (because the ii leads to V and the V leads to I pretty naturally). II-I-V may not even sound like the I is the tonal center (it would more probably be I-bVII-IV or V-IV-I). And I is always the tonic. Being the tonic is all about the sound. You need to listen to the chords and find the tonic that way. Tonic is your home chord.

And yeah, it's a DOMINANT chord, not a dominate chord.
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#4
Ahh yes, sorry about the typo. To Soccerguy, I really appreciate you introducing me to the deceptive resolutions. One of the hardest parts about guitar for me is figuring out the right terminology in order to find info about the theory.

I was reading an article about it here: http://guitarmodus.com/vol4/deceptive-resolution.html

When I was playing, I did really like the deceptive resolution from V7 -> vi7 As it indicated in the article as being the most common. I was playing the listed chords, ii7-V7-vi7 and while I loved how the vi sounded, it felt incomplete until I took it back to the Imaj7. In all, what sounded really nice to me was ii7-V7-vi7-Imaj7 (more complete).

I will keep playing around and listening, since I've found thats the best way to combine theory with real playing. But I'm wondering what else you think would be interesting to go from the vi7 to rather than to the Imaj7. Would it make sense to just end on the vi7 and then start over? I don't think so since you need to relieve the tension. Also, what's your opinion on using deceptive resolutions in the context of a secondary dominant?

i.e. lets say you are playing Imaj7-IVmaj7-V7. I know you could use the secondary V/V, such that you get Imaj7-IVmaj7-(V/V)7-V7 i.e. Imaj7-IVmaj7-II7-V7. From there couldn't you also use a deceptive resolution, so rather than going V/V to V (i.e. V to I) you'd go V/V to vi/V? In that case, you are treating the V as the tonic (i.e. tonicizing as you mentioned), but in that context the dominant 7 on the V sounds a little to tense to me. From that train of thought I'm wondering what you'd think of doing this:

Imaj7-IVmaj7-(V/V)7-(vi/V)min7-Vmaj7-V7

In this case you're really focusing on pretending like the V is the tonic, by landing on a major7 rather than the dominant, but to bring it back to the I being the tonic you could switch the maj7 to a dominant one. Just thought I'd see what you guys think and if you have any other suggestions on chord movement and/or terms I should look up. Thanks for the great advice
#5
Drop the 'secondary' part. Simplify your thinking. Everything is either a tonic, sub (or pre) dominant, or dominant. The entirety of tonal harmony can be broken down into these 3 things.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#6
I was trying to make the distinction because from what I read a secondary dominant is the V/V (or whatever chord you are leading to), while the sub dominant supposedly is the bII/V. I see what you are saying though. The "secondary" dominant really is just a dominant, but of a different tonal center. That seems more like semantics though

One thing I've been enjoying playing around with is switching between m7 or maj7 to the dominant 7. Like in a normal ii-V-I, I kind of like the sound of doing iim7-II7-Vmaj7-V7-vim7-Imaj7.
#7
Subdominant leads to the dominant. In the case of bII/V which is often a bII7/V, it is both a subdominant and a dominant, since it leads to another dominant but is also a dominant itself.

In any case, simplifying down to the 3 main categories helps me. All the academic terms like secondary dominant or modal borrowing/interchange are just useless information that hinder rather than help.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#8
Quote by Xiaoxi

In any case, simplifying down to the 3 main categories helps me. All the academic terms like secondary dominant or modal borrowing/interchange are just useless information that hinder rather than help.



specific concepts require specific words to describe them.

The term secondary dominant is certainly useful in this regard.
#9
To add to whats been said: The benefit of secondary dominants is that you are adding more leading tones and also getting some borrowed notes. A II-V-I as opposed to a II7-V-I or even a ii-V-I will still work functionally because the F# in the D chord is altered leading tone (would be F natural in ii). However, since you have no C, you are no longer closing the tritone, so it is weaker than II7