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17.6: Irregular Resolutions of Secondary Chords

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    17.6 Irregular Resolutions of Secondary Chords

    The roots of secondary dominants do not always resolve down a perfect fifth to the tonicized chord. In many of the examples of popular music with secondary dominants at the beginning of this chapter, the secondary dominants resolve deceptively.


    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Paul McCartney, “Yesterday” (1965)

    In “Yesterday,” the VVV/V resolves not to VV but to IVIV, which sometimes acts as a substitute for the VV chord (the dominant) in popular music.

    This progression also happens in “Forget You,” where a VVV7/V resolves to a IVIVchord.


    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): Bruno Mars, CeeLo Green, Philip Lawrence, and Ari Levine, “Forget You” (2010)

    In “I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trick, the VVV/V chord resolves to a subtonic ♭VIIVII chord in A major.


    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\): Rick Nielson, “I Want You to Want Me” (1977)

    Remember, however, that the subtonic ♭VIIVII in major can act as a substitute for the dominant (see the Harmonic Flowchart for Popular Music with Subtonic VIIVII chord in Major).

    In “Baby Love” by the Supremes, a CBC7/B♭ in C major (VIVV24/IV) resolves to an AA7chord (ViiV7/ii), which then resolves to iiii (DmDm). In this example, notice that the B♭ in the CBC7/B♭ is a lowered chromatic note that wants to resolve downward by half step to A. Instead of this A being the third of the IVIV chord (an F major chord), which is the traditional and expected resolution, it is the root of an AA7 chord (ViiV7/ii).


    Figure \(\PageIndex{4}\): Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Eddie Holland, “Baby Love” (1964)

    Finally, a rather common deceptive resolution of a secondary dominant is VviV7/vito IVIV, which can be seen in the following three examples.


    Figure \(\PageIndex{5}\): Steve Cropper and Otis Redding, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” (1967)


    Figure \(\PageIndex{6}\): John Lennon, “Imagine” (1971)


    Figure \(\PageIndex{7}\): Beethoven, Piano Sonata Op. 53, I (1804)

    There are two ways to conceptualize this progression. The first is that the progression of iiiiii to IVIV (Em to F in C major) is not unusual, so E to F, which appears to be IIIIII to IVIV but is in fact VviV/vi to IVIV, is a chromatic modification of iiiiii to IVIV. The other way to think of VviV/vi to IVIV is as VviV/vi to VIviVI/vi, a deceptive progression within the submediant area.

    We can conclude that secondary chords do not always resolve strictly to the chords they appear to be tonicizing.

    This page titled 17.6: Irregular Resolutions of Secondary Chords is shared under a GNU Free Documentation License 1.3 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Robert Hutchinson via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.