• Who Else Is Interested In Learning The Pre-Dominant, Dominant, And Tonic Progression?

    in Piano

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    In this lesson, we’ll be learning how to progress from the pre-dominant to the dominant, then the tonic.

    I really don’t want you to get intimidated with the terms –pre-dominant, dominant, and tonic — because they are basically technical names for scale tones that I suppose you’re already familiar with.

    After the next segment, you’ll get familiar with the terms and then we’ll proceed into learning the progressions they are associated with.

    A Quick Review On Technical Names

    There are seven unique scale tones in every major key. For example, the key of C major:

    …has seven scale tones:

    C D E F G A B

    …the first tone (which is C):

    …is duplicated as the eighth tone (which is also C):

    “Here Are The Terms Associated With Each Scale Tone…?”

    The first scale tone (which is C):

    …is the tonic.

    The second scale tone (which is D):

    …is the supertonic.

    The third scale tone (which is E):

    …is the mediant.

    The fourth scale tone (which is F):

    …is the subdominant.

    The fifth scale tone (which is G):

    …is the dominant.

    The sixth scale tone (which is A):

    …is the submediant.

    The seventh scale tone (which is B):

    …is the subtonic.

    That’s more than a handful of terms. Let’s narrow it down by looking specifically at the terms we’re concerned with; starting from the tonic.

    “What Is The Tonic?”

    The tonic is the first tone of the scale. So in every major (or minor) scale, the first tone is the tonic.

    The tonic is NOT just the first tone of the scale; it is the most important tone in the key and the key actually takes its name from the tonic.

    So, in the key of C major:

    …where the tonic is C:

    …you can clearly see that the key (of C major) takes its letter name from its tonic (which is C).

    Due to the position of the tonic as the first tone in the major scale, any chord associated with the tonic is known as the 1-chord (be it a triad, seventh, or extended chord).

    A Short Note On The Dominant

    The dominant is the fifth tone of the scale (be it in the major or minor key).

    After the tonic (which is the first tone of the scale), the dominant is the next tone in importance in the major key for so many reasons that we can’t discuss in this blog.

    In the key of C major:

    …where the fifth tone is G:

    G is technically the dominant and it’s associated with the number “5”. Therefore, all the chords that are associated with the dominant are simply classified as the 5-chord; notwithstanding whether they are triads, seventh, or extended chords.

    Explanation Of The Term “Pre-Dominant”

    The term pre-dominant is another name for the second tone of the scale (regularly known as the supertonic) and this is because in cyclical chord progressions, the dominant is usually preceded by the supertonic.

    Still in the key of C major:

    …where D:

    …is the second tone, D is considered as the pre-dominant and all chords that are associated with the pre-dominant are generally classified as the 2-chord (irrespective of whether they are triads, seventh chords, or extended chords).

    The Pre-Dominant, Dominant, And Tonic Progression

    The progression from the pre-dominant to the dominant, and the tonic is a chord progression from the 2-chord to the 5-chord, then the 1-chord in the major key.

    In the key of C major:

    …the root progression is as follows:

    From the second tone (which is D):

    …to the fifth tone (which is G):

    …then the first tone (which is C):

    Now that the root progression is determined, we can go ahead and flesh out those root notes with right hand chords.

    Using Triads

    Attention: Beginners may want to play this progression because it doesn’t sound too sophisticated’ neither does it  involve the combination of multiple scale tones.

    For the second tone (which is D):

    …the right hand chord is the D minor triad:

    For the fifth tone (which is G):

    …the right hand chord is the G major triad (in second inversion):

    For the first tone (which is C):

    …the right hand chord is the C major triad (in first inversion):

    “Altogether, Here Are The Chords…”

    The pre-dominant chord:

    …the dominant chord:

    …then the tonic chord:

    Using Seventh Chords

    For the second tone (which is D):

    …the right hand chord is the D minor seventh chord:

    For the fifth tone (which is G):

    …the right hand chord is the G dominant seventh chord (in second inversion):

    For the first tone (which is C):

    …the right hand chord is the C major seventh chord:

    “Altogether, Here Are The Chords…”

    The pre-dominant chord:

    …the dominant chord:

    …then the tonic chord:

    Using Ninth Chords

    For the second tone (which is D):

    …the right hand chord is the F major seventh chord:

    …and this produces a D minor ninth chord harmony.

    For the fifth tone (which is G):

    …the right hand chord is the B half-diminished seventh chord (in second inversion):

    …and this produces a G dominant ninth chord harmony.

    For the first tone (which is C):

    …the right hand chord is the E minor seventh chord:

    …and this produces a C  major ninth chord harmony.

    “Altogether, Here Are The Chords…”

    The pre-dominant chord:

    …the dominant chord:

    …then the tonic chord:

    Final Words

    The progression we just covered is also known as the 2-5-1 chord progression in the major key and it’s one of the most important chord progressions in tonal music.

    The use of the technical names associated with the scale tones to describe the chords in the chord progression makes it sound technical.

    So, instead of saying “a pre-dominant, dominant, to the tonic progression”, you can easily say “the 2-5-1 chord progression”.

    Meanwhile, if you have questions, comments, suggestions, and more, feel free to use the comment section.

    All the best.

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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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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Carolyn

    Thanks for the breakdown of the Pre-dominate,,and tonic. You made it very simple. Thanks for all this information you post. God bless you for your work and understanding You give to so many like me. God bless you

    Reply

    2 Terri Telisia Reeves

    Thank you so very much. You broke it down where even I can understand it. I am learning so much about the piano, more than just hitting the keys. You are a wonderful teacher.

    Reply

    3 Carol Hansen

    This is a great way to learn chords. The challenge is to know in every key. Thanks

    Reply

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