• Another Easy Way To Form Dominant Chords

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano,Theory

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    If you’re interested in learning an easy way to form dominant chords, this lesson is for you!.

    The role and importance of dominant chords in music cannot be over-emphasized. There are several dominant chords in music and they come in assorted sizes – triads, sevenths, ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths.

    In this lesson, you’ll discover how you can use leading note chords to form dominant chords.

    If you are not properly acquainted with what dominant and leading note chords are, don’t worry – we’re getting started in this lesson by breaking down these terms.

    An Overview Of The Leading Note And Dominant Chords

    Don’t get carried away by the terms leading note and dominant; they’re simpler than they sound. If you don’t believe me, read on.

    Leading Note Chords Explained

    The term leading note is a technical name that music scholars associate with the seventh degree of the scale. This name is conditional and applies to a seventh degree that is only a half step away from the first (or eighth) degree.

    In the C major scale:

    …the seventh degree (B):

    ….is considered to be a leading note because it is a half step from the first degree (C):

    The seventh degree of the C natural minor scale:

    …which is Bb:

    …is not considered as a leading note because from Bb to C:

    …is a whole step. However, the seventh degree of the C harmonic minor scale:

    …which is B:

    …is a leading note.

    The seventh degree of the major and harmonic minor scales are a half step below the first degree, consequently, we’ll be using the traditional scales of the major and minor keys.

    Now that you know the position of the leading note in the major and minor keys, let’s look at the scale degree chords that can be formed from the leading note in the major and minor keys respectively – triads and seventh chords alike.

    Leading Note Triads In The Major And Minor Key

    Using the C major scale:

    …as a reference, we can form the leading note triad by stacking three notes in intervals of thirds, starting from the seventh degree – which is B:

    …in this case.

    Using the pick-skip technique, we’ll pick B:

    …skip C and pick D:

    …skip E and pick F:

    …and altogether, we’ll have B-D-F:

    …the B diminished triad.

    Using the C harmonic minor scale:

    …we can form the leading note chord from the seventh degree (which is also B):

    …using the pick-skip technique. We’ll pick B:

    …skip C and pick D:

    …skip Eb and pick F:

    …and altogether, we’ll have B-D-F:

    …which is also the B diminished triad.

    In a nutshell, the major and minor keys have the same quality of triad – the diminished triad. Check out the diminished triad in all 12 keys…

    C diminished triad:

    C# diminished triad:

    D diminished triad:

    D# diminished triad:

    E diminished triad:

    F diminished triad:

    F# diminished triad:

    G diminished triad:

    G# diminished triad:

    A diminished triad:

    A# diminished triad:

    B diminished triad:

    Leading Note Seventh Chords In The Major And Minor Key

    Hence you’re already familiar with the leading note triads of the major and minor key, deriving leading note seventh chords is easier.

    “Here’s how to derive them…”

    Using the C major scale:

    …we can expand the basic B diminished triad:

    …by skipping G and adding A:

    …to form B-D-F-A:

    …a half-diminished seventh chord.

    Also using the C harmonic minor scale:

    …we can expand the basic B diminished triad:

    …by skipping G and adding Ab:

    …to form B-D-F-Ab:

    …a diminished seventh chord.

    “Take note…”

    The leading note seventh chord in the major key is different from its counterpart in the minor key. We just formed the half-diminished and diminished seventh chords in the major and minor keys respectively.

    Suggested reading: Half-diminished Seventh Chords and Diminished Seventh Chords.

    Dominant Chords Explained

    Dominant chords are formed on the fifth degree of the scale and just like their leading note counterparts they are positional. The dominant chord in the key of C:

    …lies in the fifth degree of the scale – which is G:

    Using the C major scale:

    …the dominant chord can be formed on G:

    …using the pick-skip technique.

    Due to the fact that there are various classes of dominant chords, you’re at liberty to use triads, seventh chords, ninth chords, and thirteenth chords as dominant chords.

    Dominant Triads And Seventh Chords In The Major And Minor Key

    Using the C major scale:

    …as a reference, we can form the dominant triad using the pick-skip technique.

    “Here’s what I mean…”

    Pick G:

    …skip A and pick B:

    …skip C and pick D:

    …and altogether, we’ll have G-B-D:

    …the G major triad.

    Also using the C harmonic minor scale:

    …we can form the dominant triad from the fifth degree (which is also G):

    …using the pick-skip technique. We’ll pick G:

    …skip Ab and pick B:

    …skip C and pick D:

    …and altogether, we’ll have G-B-D:

    …which is also the G major triad.

    The quality of the dominant triad in the major and minor key is major. Therefore, forming a major triad on the fifth degree of any major or minor key produces the dominant triad.

    If we extend the basic G dominant triad:

    …we’ll form the G dominant seventh chord:

    …which is the same quality whether in the major key or in the minor key.

    Summarily, the dominant triad and seventh chord in the major and minor keys are the same. It’s highly recommended that you take out sometime to learn the major and dominant seventh chord qualities in all the keys before you proceed with this study.

    Extended Dominant Chords In The Major And Minor Key

    Chords that exceed the compass of an octave are known as extended chords. Although there are several extended chords like the ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths, we’ll limit our scope to the dominant ninth chords in this lesson.

    “Here’s how to derive them…”

    Using the C major scale:

    …we can expand the basic G dominant seventh chord:

    …by skipping G and adding A:

    …to form G-B-D-F-A:

    …a dominant ninth chord.

    Also using the C harmonic minor scale:

    …we can expand the G dominant seventh chord:

    …by skipping G and adding Ab:

    …to form G-B-D-F-Ab:

    …a dominant seventh (flat ninth) chord.

    Altogether here are the classes of dominant chords we covered in today’s lesson:

    • The dominant triad
    • The dominant seventh chord
    • The dominant ninth chord
    • The dominant seventh (flat ninth) chord

    In the next segment, I’ll be showing you an easier way to form all these classes of dominant chords using the leading note chords we’ve covered so far.

    Formation Of Dominant Chords Using Leading Note Chords

    The leading note chords we covered earlier are as follows…

    • The diminished triad
    • The diminished seventh chord
    • The half-diminished seventh chord

    These leading note chords can be used in the formation of dominant chord using two simple steps.

    How To Form Dominant Chords In Two Simple Steps

    Step #1 – Determine the root of the dominant chord you want to form

    Step #2 – Go to the third degree of the major scale of that key and form any leading note chord.

    “Let me show you step-by-step how this works in two examples…”

    Example #1 – Formation of Eb Dominant Chords

    Step #1 – Determine the root of the dominant chord you want to form

    The root of the dominant chords is Eb:

    Step #2 – Go to the third degree of the major scale of that key and form any leading note chord

    The third degree of the Eb major scale:

    …is G:

    Therefore all G leading note chords if played over Eb on the bass produce Eb dominant chords.

    The G diminished triad:

    …over Eb on the bass:

    …produces the Eb dominant seventh chord:

    The G diminished seventh chord:

    …over Eb on the bass:

    …produces the Eb dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    The G half-diminished seventh chord:

    …over Eb on the bass:

    …produces the Eb dominant ninth chord:

    Example #2 – Formation of B Dominant Chords

    Step #1 – Determine the root of the dominant chord you want to form

    The root of the dominant chords is B:

    Step #2 – Go to the third degree of the major scale of that key and form any leading note chord

    The third degree of the B major scale:

    …is D#:

    Therefore all D# leading note chords if played over B on the bass produces B  dominant chords.

    The D# diminished triad:

    …over B on the bass:

    …produces the B dominant seventh chord:

    The D# diminished seventh chord:

    …over B on the bass:

    …produces the B dominant seventh [flat ninth] chord:

    The D# half-diminished seventh chord:

    …over B on the bass:

    …produces the B dominant ninth chord:

    If you follow the same procedure in all twelve keys, you’ll derive dominant chords. I really hope that the information you gained in this lesson will prove helpful. I’ll see you in the next lesson.

    Thank you for your time.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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