# 2.9: The Dominant Seventh Chord

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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.

### Question

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

Hint

$\hat7$

E

### Question

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

Hint

$\hat4$

F

### Question

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

Hint

$\hat5$

E

### Question

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

Hint

$\hat7$

A#

Activity 19-2

Activity 19–2

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

### Question

What is the root of a V7 chord in G major?

Hint

$\hat5$

D

### Follow-up question

Complete the V7 chord by adding the upper voices.

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

### Question

What is the root of a V7 chord in G minor?

Hint

$\hat5$

D

### Follow-up question

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

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

### Question

What is the root of a V7 chord in Eb major?

Hint

$\hat5$

Bb

### Follow-up question

Complete the V7 chord by adding the upper voices.

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

### Question

What is the root of a V7 chord in E minor?

Hint

$\hat5$

B

### Follow-up question

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

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.

### Question

$\hat7$

G# and D

### Follow-up question

What interval do these two tendency tones form?

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

### Question

$\hat7$

A and Eb

### Follow-up question

What interval do these two tendency tones form?

A and Eb form a diminished fifth (d5).

### Question

$\hat7$

E# and B

### Follow-up question

What interval do these two tendency tones form?

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

### Question

$\hat7$

F# and C

### Follow-up question

What interval do these two tendency tones form?

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.

### Question

Resolve the two tendency tones in the following V7 chord:

Hint

$\hat7$

### Question

Resolve the two tendency tones in the following V7 chord:

Hint

$\hat7$

### Question

Resolve the two tendency tones in the following V7 chord:

Hint

$\hat7$

### Question

Resolve the two tendency tones in the following V7 chord:

Hint

$\hat7$

$\hat5$

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.

### Question

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

Hint

$\hat2$

### Question

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

Hint

$\hat2$

### Question

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

Hint

$\hat2$

### Question

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

Hint

$\hat2$

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

$\hat5$

# 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.

### Question

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

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.

### Question

$\hat4$

A (tenor)

### Follow-up question

$\hat4$

Hint

$\hat4$

### 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:

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.

### Question

$\hat2$

Hint

$\hat2$

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

$\hat1$

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

$\hat5$

# 19.5 Other leading tone resolutions

$\hat1$

$\hat7$

$\hat7$

$\hat1$

$\hat1$

$\hat7$

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.