• The Application Of Dominant Chords For Beginners

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    If you’re interested in learning the application of dominant chords, then you’re on the right page.

    Before we get into this lesson, permit me to say that the dominant chord has been one of the most important chords (both for music composers and scholars) for the past 500 years.

    That’s why serious musicians invest their time in learning how they are applied. If you belong to that league of serious musicians, invest the next 15 minutes on this blog.

    A Review On Dominant Chords

    Permit me to breakdown these terms:

    Dominant

    Chord

    A proper understanding of these terms can give you a clearer understanding of what dominant chords are.

    The Term Dominant – Explained

    The term dominant is a technical name that music scholars use to describe the fifth degree in a key – whether major or minor. For example, in the key of C major:

    …the fifth degree (which is G):

    …is the dominant.

    The dominant is the second tone in a key in terms of importance and that’s why we’re dealing with dominant chords in this lesson.

    A Short Note On The Term Chord

    A chord is a collection of three or more related notes (agreeable or not), that are played (or heard) together.

    Although it takes at least three notes to form a chord, before any collection of three notes can be considered as a chord, there MUST be a relationship between them. For example, G, B, and D:

    …can be considered as a chord because of the scale and intervallic relationship between the notes – G, B, and D.

    The notes G, B, and D:

    …are the first, third, and fifth tones of the G mixolydian scale:

    …and that’s the scale relationship between them. Also, there is an intervallic relationship between the G, B, and D. The interval between G and B:

    …is a third interval, and so is the interval between B and D:

    Consequently, the intervallic relationship between G, B, and D is in third intervals.

    “What Is A Dominant Chord?”

    From what we’ve covered so far, a dominant chord is a collection of three or more related notes (chord), founded on the fifth degree in any given key.

    For example, in the key of C major:

    …any chord that is founded on the fifth degree (which is G):

    …is a dominant chord.

    The same thing is applicable to any other key whether major or minor.

    In the key of A minor:

    …any chord that is founded on the fifth degree (which is E):

    …is a dominant chord.

    The Classification Of Dominant Chords According To Width

    Although all chords founded on the fifth degree in a key are generally referred to as dominant chords, there are various sizes (aka – “widths”) of dominant chords.

    “Check Them Out…”

    The dominant triad. The dominant triad consists of three notes (a root, a third and a fifth).

    The dominant seventh chord. The dominant seventh chord consists of four notes (a root, a third, a fifth and a seventh) and encompasses a seventh interval.

    The extended dominant chord. Extended dominant chords are basically formed by extending the width of seventh chords using compound intervals like ninths, elevenths and thirteenths. Consequently, dominant ninth chords, dominant eleventh chords, and dominant thirteenth chords are classified as extended dominant chords.

    Chromatic Vs Diatonic Chords

    In the next segment, you’ll discover how the dominant triad and seventh chord can be applied as passing chords. But before we do that, let’s discuss briefly on passing chords.

    “What Is A Passing Chord?”

    A passing chord is a chromatic chord that is used to connect two diatonic chords.

    From the definition of a passing chord, it is important for us to highlight the following terms:

    Chromatic chord

    Diatonic chord

    A chromatic chord is a chord that consists of one or more notes that are foreign to the key, while a diatonic chord is a chord that consist only of the notes of the prevalent key.

    “Let’s Check Out Some Of The Diatonic Chords In The Key Of C…”

    On the first degree is chord 1:

    …the C major triad.

    On the second degree is chord 2:

    …the D minor triad.

    On the third degree is chord 3:

    …the E minor triad.

    On the fourth degree is chord 4:

    …the F major triad.

    On the fifth degree is chord 5:

    …the G major triad.

    On the sixth degree is chord 6:

    …the A minor triad.

    On the seventh degree is chord 7:

    …the B diminished triad.

    Let’s quickly learn some chromatic chords that can be used to connect these diatonic chords. But before we do so, let me show you how the diatonic triads in the key of C:

    …can be played.

    “Kindly Pay Attention To The Way The Diatonic Chords Are Arranged…”

    Chord 1:

    Chord 2:

    Chord 3:

    Chord 4:

    Chord 5:

    Chord 6:

    The Application Of Dominant Triads And Seventh Chords

    Every diatonic chord has a corresponding passing chord which can either be a dominant triad or a dominant seventh chord and we’ll be exploring them in this segment.

    Passing Chords To Chord 1

    Chord 1:

    …is the second inversion of the C major triad. The G dominant triad:

    …or G dominant seventh chord:

    …can be used as passing chords chord 1. Consequently, this produces a 5-1 chord progression in the key of C major.

    Chord 5:

    Chord 1:

    Passing Chords To Chord 2

    Chord 2:

    …is the first inversion of the D minor triad. The A dominant triad:

    …or A dominant seventh chord:

    …can be used as passing chords chord 2. Consequently, this produces a 6-2 chord progression in the key of C major.

    Chord 6:

    Chord 2:

    Passing Chords To Chord 3

    Chord 3:

    …is the first inversion of the E minor triad. The B dominant triad:

    …or B dominant seventh chord:

    …can be used as passing chords chord 3. Consequently, this produces a 7-3 chord progression in the key of C major.

    Chord 7:

    Chord 3:

    Passing Chords To Chord 4

    Chord 4:

    …is the root position of the F major triad:

    The C dominant triad:

    …or C dominant seventh chord:

    …can be used as passing chords chord 4. Consequently, this produces a 1-4 chord progression in the key of C major.

    Chord 1:

    Chord 4:

    Passing Chords To Chord 5

    Chord 5:

    …is the root position of the G major triad. The D dominant triad:

    …or D dominant seventh chord:

    …can be used as passing chords chord 5. Consequently, this produces a 2-5 chord progression in the key of C major.

    Chord 2:

    Chord 5:

    Passing Chords To Chord 6

    Chord 6:

    …is the root position of the A minor triad. The E dominant triad:

    …or E dominant seventh chord:

    …can be used as passing chords chord 6. Consequently, this produces a 3-6 chord progression in the key of C major.

    Chord 3:

    Chord 6:

    Final Words

    In popular music – especially in the jazz and gospel terrain – the dominant chord plays a very vital role in harmony. Did I mention that the dominant chord is of the greatest importance in Blues music?

    The quick guide that would help you master these passing chords and diatonic chords in all twelve major keys would be added soon. You’ll do well to keep an eye on this page.

    Thank you for your time and see you in another lesson.

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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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    1 francis

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