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2.9: The Dominant Seventh Chord

  • Page ID
    186181
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    19.1 Introduction

    \[\hat5\]

    19.2 Construction

    \[\hat4\]

    The following example shows a dominant seventh chord in C major in an SATB setting:

    The construction of the V7 is the same in minor:

    \[\hat5\]

    Activity 19-1

    Activity 19–1

    Each of the following V7 chords is presented in SATB setting and is missing one note. Provide the missing note as directed for each of the exercises.


    Exercise 19–1a:

    Question

    What pitch in the alto voice will complete this V7 chord in F major?

    Hint

    \[\hat7\]

    Answer

    E


    Exercise 19–1b:

    Question

    What pitch in the soprano voice will complete this V7 chord in C minor?

    Hint

    \[\hat4\]

    Answer

    F


    Exercise 19–1c:

    Question

    What pitch in the bass voice will complete this V7 chord in A major?

    Hint

    \[\hat5\]

    Answer

    E


    Exercise 19–1d:

    Question

    What pitch in the tenor voice will complete this V7 chord in B minor?

    Hint

    \[\hat7\]

    Answer

    A#

    Activity 19-2

    Activity 19–2

    In this activity, you will build V7 chords in various keys starting with the root.


    Exercise 19–2a:

    Hint

    \[\hat5\]

    Answer

    D

    Follow-up question

    Complete the V7 chord by adding the upper voices.

    Answer

    Upper voices should consist of F#, A, and C.


    Exercise 19–2b:

    Hint

    \[\hat5\]

    Answer

    D

    Follow-up question

    Complete the V7 chord by adding the upper voices. (Remember to raise the leading tone in minor keys.)

    Answer

    Upper voices should consist of F#, A, and C.


    Exercise 19–2c:

    Hint

    \[\hat5\]

    Answer

    Bb

    Follow-up question

    Complete the V7 chord by adding the upper voices.

    Answer

    Upper voices should consist of D, F, and Ab.


    Exercise 19–2d:

    Hint

    \[\hat5\]

    Answer

    B

    Follow-up question

    Complete the V7 chord by adding the upper voices. (Remember to raise the leading tone in minor keys.)

    Answer

    Upper voices should consist of D#,F#, and A.

    19.3 Tendency tones in the V7 chord

    \[\hat7\]

    Activity 19-3

    Activity 19–3

    It is important that you be able to recognize the tendency tones present in a V7 chord and treat them accordingly. In this activity, you will identify the tendency tones and the interval they form.


    Exercise 19–3a:

    Answer

    G# and D

    Follow-up question

    What interval do these two tendency tones form?

    Answer

    G# and D form a diminished fifth (d5).


    Exercise 19–3b:

    Answer

    A and Eb

    Follow-up question

    What interval do these two tendency tones form?

    Answer

    A and Eb form a diminished fifth (d5).


    Exercise 19–3c:

    Answer

    E# and B

    Follow-up question

    What interval do these two tendency tones form?

    Answer

    E# and B form an augmented fourth (A4).


    Exercise 19–3d:

    Answer

    F# and C

    Follow-up question

    What interval do these two tendency tones form?

    Answer

    F# and C form a diminished fifth (d5).

    \[\hat7\]

    \[\hat4\]

    \[\hat5\]

    Activity 19-4

    Activity 19–4

    In this activity, you will resolve the tendency tones from the V7 chords of the previous chapter.





    \[\hat5\]

    As described in Chapter 12, four-part harmony is an extension of three-part harmony which, in turn, is built from combinations of basic interval progressions. The voice leading in Example 19–7 can be explained in this manner. The outer voices form the primary interval progression of a third expanding to an octave. The tenor, then, supports the soprano with a 6–8 progression and the alto harmonizes with the tenor in parallel thirds (3–3). Looking at the progression this way, we can see that the augmented fourth between the alto and soprano is a resultant interval.

    In the example above, you might have noticed that the resolution chord has three roots, a third, and no fifth. This voicing of the I chord is common at the end of a musical idea. This type of voice-leading, with both chords in root position, provides a strong sense of repose and, thus, closure.

    Examples 19–5 through 19–7 show the resolution of a V7 chord in C major. The same rules apply to dominant seventh chords in minor keys. Example 19–8 shows a V7 chord in C minor resolving to the tonic harmony:

    \[\hat4\]

    Note: Incomplete chords such as those shown in Example 19–7 and Example 19–8 are common in progressions moving from the dominant to the tonic. Generally speaking, though, composers tend to avoid two incomplete chords in a row. In other words, incomplete V chords are usually followed by complete I chords and incomplete I chords usually come after complete V chords.

    Activity 19-5

    Activity 19–5

    In this exercise, you will complete the resolution of the previous activities to the I chord.


    Exercise 19–5a:

    Question

    Taking your answer from the previous activity, complete the resolution to the I chord by providing pitches for the bass and alto:

    Hint

    \[\hat2\]

    Answer

    Exercise 19–5b:

    Question

    Taking your answer from the previous activity, complete the resolution to the I chord by providing pitches for the bass and soprano:

    Hint

    \[\hat2\]

    Answer

    Exercise 19–5c:

    Question

    Taking your answer from the previous activity, complete the resolution to the I chord by providing pitches for the bass and tenor:

    Hint

    \[\hat2\]

    Answer

    Exercise 19–5d:

    Question

    Taking your answer from the previous activity, complete the resolution to the I chord by providing pitches for the bass and tenor:

    Hint

    \[\hat2\]

    Answer

    The voice-leading conventions described above are extremely common, even in non-SATB textures. Consider the following example:

    Example 19–9 Mary Southcote, “To the Butterfly,” mm. 1-3.

    example_19-9

    \[\hat5\]

    19.4 Inversions

    \[\hat5\]

    \[\hat7\]

    \[\hat2\]

    Example 19–12 shows the resolution of the remaining position of the dominant seventh chord:

    \[\hat4\]

    Note: Conventions for resolving V7:

    1. The tendency tones typically resolve as expected with \hat7 moving to \hat1 and \hat4 moving to \hat3,
    2. similarly, \hat2 tends to resolve to \hat1, and
    3. \hat5 is typically held to promote smooth voice-leading (this is possible in every inversion of the dominant seventh, but not in root position where the bass must leap from \hat5 to \hat1).
    Activity 19-6

    Activity 19–6

    So far in this chapter, the activities have focused on resolving dominant seventh chords in root position. Dominant seventh chords frequently appear in inversion, however, and it is important that you be able to resolve these chords as well. In this activity, you will resolve an inverted dominant seventh chord according to the guidelines outlined above.


    Exercise 19–6a:

    Question

    Identify the leading tone in the following V6/5 chord:

    Answer

    D (bass)

    Follow-up question

    Resolve the leading tone according to the guidelines outlined above.

    Hint

    Remember, the leading tone tends to resolve to the tonic.

    Answer


    Exercise 19–6c:

    Question

    Because this dominant seventh chord is in inversion, we can retain the root as a common tone as we resolve to I. Identify the root of the following V6/5 chord:

    Answer

    Bb (soprano)

    Follow-up question

    Hold the root as a common tone into the I chord.

    Hint

    Remember, because the dominant seventh chord is in inversion, we can retain the root as a common tone into the I chord.

    Answer

    The following example shows a pair of dominant seventh chords in different positions resolving in a conventional manner to the tonic:

    Example 19–13 José Maurício Nunes Garcia, Matinas e Encomendação de Defuntos, Responsório I, II. Allegro, mm. 5-8.

    example_19-13

    \[\hat1\]

    The following excerpt also features several dominant sevenths, though here the resolutions break with convention:

    Example 19–14 Sophia Dussek, Variations on “In My Cottage in a Wood,” mm 1-4.

    example_19-14

    \[\hat5\]

    19.5 Other leading tone resolutions

    \[\hat1\]

    \[\hat7\]

    \[\hat7\]

    \[\hat1\]

    Example 19–16. Johann Sebastian Bach, Jesu, nun sei gepreiset (BWV 41), 6. “Dein ist allein die Ehre” mm. 8–9.

    example_19-16

    Example 19–17. Johann Sebastian Bach, Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248), 53. “Ihr Gestim, ihr hohlen Lüfte,” m. 3–4.

    example_19-17

    \[\hat1\]

    \[\hat7\]

    It should be noted that these resolutions—particularly the progression in Example 19–17—are far less common that those in which the leading tone resolves up by step. As a rule of thumb, you should use them in your own partwriting exercises only when necessary.

    19.6 Summary

    \[\hat7\]


    This page titled 2.9: The Dominant Seventh Chord is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Andre Mount & Lee Rothfarb (Milne Library Publishing) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.