i thought i had a solid grasp on secondary dominants until now. i am confused about secondary dominants. is a secondary dominant a dominant 7th chord that is the fifth of any of the diatonic degrees other than the tonic or is it any dominant 7th chord that leads directly to its tonal center?  

so lets say we are in the key of c major and we play chord progressions like this:

an eb7 to abmaj7 progression, is eb7 a secondary dominant? eb7 is the v of the abmaj7 chord, but abmaj7 is not diatonic in the key of c major.

or instead we go like this:

e7 to amin7, is e7 a secondary dominant? since amin7 is the vii in the key of c major and e7 is the v of the amin7 chord.
There are 40 comments, leave a comment.
my memory from years back is that it's the dominant of the dominant. making d7 the secondary dom of c major as d7 is the fifth note of the g major scale.  

having said that, my memory might be wrong

hi duskop,

thank you for taking your time to share an idea that you find to be so important. what is so interesting to me is that just recently i became interested in this same idea of rhythm being the soul of it all,and i feel like i am in an episode of lost with your post all of a sudden showing up here !!!!  would like to hear more about why you felt it important to post this,and more about yourself !!!

                   best regards

in the case of eb7 to abmaj7, the eb7 is a "primary" dominant as it is resolving to a (temporary) tonic major chord.

in e7 to am, the e7 is once again a primary dominant as it is resolving to a (temporary) tonic minor chord.

many songs were written in the ragtime and tin pan alley era with strings of secondary dominants:

(bridge from 5'2" in c)

|| e7 | e7 | a7 | a7 | d7 | d7 | g7 | g7 || c ...

g7 to c (v to i) g7 is the primary dominant.

d7 to g7 (v/v to v) d7 is a secondary domianant

a7 to d7 (v/ii to ii) a7 is a secondary dominant

e7 to a7 (v/vi to vi) e7 is a secondary dominant
nice post duskop.
according to berklee theory, a secondary dominant is a dominant chord that resolves to a diatonic chord other than the i chord.

in loveforjazzīs example e7 to am7 would be a secondary dominant, eb7 to abmaj7 would not since abmaj7 is not a diatonic chord.

in 7īs example, e7-a7-d7-g7 would be called "extended dominants".

iīm not saying this is correct, but itīs the way i was taught (and teach)...
mike, you're not duskop by any chance are you?
really it is a dominant of any degree other than the tonic.  however the term is used by far in the majority of times refering to the v7 of v7 chord.  this is so often the case that one could go a lifetime never coming across a theoretical document using the term "secondary dominant except when it way refering to a five of five chord.
lol..... no but i have posted similar thought before far less eloquently.
way = was
nice post.
oh and to the original question ... yes both of those dominants would be called secondary.  in an analysis situation the first one the eb7 you would call v7 of bvi.  your second case ... the e7   you would call  
v7 of vi.  so in a university situation on a test for example it does not suffice to call them secondary dominants.  you have to do as i did.
be exact calling them v7 of bvi amd v7 of vi respectively.  a side note calling them secondary dominants would be accepted but not even neceessary in an analysis situation.
i have a terrible, terrible sense of rhythm. does anybody have any suggestions on the best way to improve this?

"secondary dominants: dominant chords that are expected to resolve down a perfect fifth to a diatonic chord other than i."

taken literally, the eb7 would not fall into that category. of course you could still call it v7/bvi. depending on the context, it could also be a modulation to ab major.
get several metronomes.use them a lot.
in most cases, an eb7 in c major resolves to a dm7 and is called subv7/ii.
the way i see it, a dominant chord built on any note of the scale (of the key you're in) is a secondary dominant, except the one on v, which is the 'normal' dominant of the key.

in the key of c major, the 2ndary doms are therefore c7, d7, e7, f7, a7 and b7. each of these resolves to a closely related key: c7 to f major, d7 to g major, e7 to a minor, f7 to bb major, a7 to d minor and b7 to e minor. they are used to introduce modulations to these keys (temporary or permanent).

they are also used to 'spice up' bland, diatonic sequences such as c - am - dm - g7, which could become c - a7 - dm - g7 or c - a7 - d7 - g7.

i guess you could apply this to minor keys too, but let's leave this to another time...
i have to wonder who decided who was in charge of defining a secondary dominant, and why should the rest of us care. what i find interesting is that a dominant 7th causes us to anticipate hearing a i chord.  to me this is the essence of western harmony and a therefor a very useful concept to use while composing, arranging, improvising or whatever.  so whether it is acting as a secondary, tripledary or whatever, doesn't make much difference as long as it leads our ears, hearts and souls, to an interesting place:)

so i guess, i'm saying imho that "secondary dominants' are for theory class, and it seems the definition can vary depending on where or with whom you study.  i don't mean to poopoo the concept, just the debate:)
i heard kenny werner say something like "you can magine someday most universities will have a rap department"
i stand corrected savage.
berklee college of music in boston is the industry standard for all things jazz theory.  it is the way it has been for a long time and it is the way it is now.  there are many reasons for it.  not least of which is because more big time professionals have studied and taught there than anywhere else since the begining of jazz education.  it is the most widely recognized and respected jazz school in the world.  so  what does c7 mean?  in the end it means what berklee says it means.  what is a secondary dominant.. it means what berklee says it means...
hence i stand corrected by savage.  it is plain stupid to dipute theoretical fact backed up by a berklee text.  why should we care what a secondary dominant is?  there i will stick to my original statements.  it really is not important.  it is much more important in the example of the eb7 to understand this is v7 of bvi than it is to understand it does not meet the criteria of a secondary dominant.
sometimes the understanding of this theory can be important or useful.
when transposing for example if you understand it is v of bvi for example the transposition process can be a lot easier.  that is a practical use.  whereas there is no practical advantage to knowing it is a secondary dominant.  except to alert yourself that it is not the primary dominant.
as i have always understood it: "a secondary dominant 'resolves' to a primary dominant. and a primary dominant resolves to a tonic (major or minor - temporary or otherwise)."
that is what i thought too 7 but savage has provided text from a berklee
manual stating otherwise.
actually iīm not trying to correct anyone, as you can see in my first post: "iīm not saying this is correct". as dr whack says, the definition can vary depending on where or with whom you study.

the original question of this thread was "what is a secondary dominant?" and i provided the standard berklee definition of the term. when it comes to music theory itīs hard to say what is "correct". i havenīt yet read two different theory books that say exactly the same things about everything. itīs up to us teachers to decide what theories we like the most and teach that, and be careful not to present it as "the truth"...
the great teacher john mehegan doesnīt care about secondary dominants at all when using roman numerals. in c major, he would call e7 iiix7 (where the x stands for a dominant chord) and eb7 would be called biiix7.

imo this is the easiest way to transpose a tune, although not theoretically "correct".
i disagree.  i believe it is 100 percent theoretically correct to call
eb7 biii7 if you are in the key of c.  it is just also correct to call it v7 of bvi.  theoretical anaylisis is often done with different purposes.  you would have to understand, in a test situation, for example what a teacher was looking for.  v7 of bvi does more than theoretical analysis for example.... what it does is explain the function of the chord.  writing that on a test instead of just writing biii7 is similar to when a math test will not simply accept the answer but requires you to write the forula you used to get the answer.
forula s/b formula
i turned in a counterpoint test once (and only once)to a phd  who did not understand my analysis of a passage that was functioning enharmonically as something else.  i was mystified, flabbergasted...at that moment i knew there was no point in pursuing a music degree, so i walked out of the classroom quit school.
...i had already played my senior recital.  i think that's all i really wanted out if it
ok so if i change my last sentence to

"imo this is the easiest way to transpose a tune, although it doesnīt explain the functions of the chords."

could we agree then? :-)

i use the mehegan system for transposition and the berklee system for analysis.
i suppose except that... berklee also taught me to call eb7 biii7 in the key of c.  that is not unique to mohegan. and when doing analysis at berklee eb7 in the key of c is called biii7.  as to whether it is a secondary dominant or not... that is just a ... well we could call it a "secondary conversation" or a secondary analysis if you will.
seems like you're confusing the concept of temporary modulation within a song structure based in a given key and sec.dom theory-check this out-https://howmusicreallyworks.com/pages_chapter_6/index_chapter_6.html
who is confusing the concept smg?

that seems like a very good site to learn theory. i'll check it out. thanks!
ok well if the comment was directed to my posts....:  no i am not confusing key modulation and diatonic analysis.  i have been at this a little bit too long for that.  although it can be confusing at times as to when a composition has actually gone to the biii7x chord and when it is changing keys after thirty plus years at this game and always having theory and analysis as my stronger suit i am confident in context i always know the  difference.  no matter what that web page says  for example a good rule of thumb might be that if the biiix chord is an isolated event... ie it does not resolve to the bvi chord  
and is followed by another chord diatonic to the original key chances are there has been no modulation temporary or otherwise.... the composition has simply visited the biii7 chord.  if however the biii7 chord is followed by the bvi chord and then resumes with chords diatonic to the original key you could say there was a temporary modulation within the composotion.  and the biii7 chord has different functions in each case.  however it is important to note that in each case it is still quite clearly ------*****   biii7   *******-------
although in the second case an aditional note might be made to  
pointing out that it is also v7 of bvi which in analysis is how we recognize temporary modulations without acutually stating the fact.
hey mike!no confusion,man,that was to "lfj"(originator of thread)..btw-glad the link was cool for that..let me know if you need help with that or anything else........
i don't remember ever calling eb7 biii7 if it resolves to ab(even at berklee...but maybe i wasn't paying attention).  in this case, it is v7/bvi.  i completely disagree with mohegan's approach(if it's truly what you say it is.....i never had any classes with him).  if you are improvising, and eb7 is going to resolve to ab, you think of it as v of ab.  in fact, in this scenario, the eb7 generally utilizes different extensions than if you just play eb7 as a stand-alone dominant.  if it's the v of ab, you might play b9,#9,b13 and if it's stand-alone, you might play #11.  obviously, these aren't hard rules, but it's what tends to happen.

regarding secondary dominants, i think the definitions tend to vary.  i generally think of secondary dominants as resolving down a fifth, but not to the tonic, and not to another dominant.  so, for example, in c, if you play a7 d-7, a7 is a secondary dominant.  however, if you play a7 d7, these are extended dominants.  the bottom line is, i really don't think it matters what they're called.  you either understand the sounds of these progressions, or you don't.
as stated before, the mehegan approach is simply a transposition tool and does not explain chord functions. i read it in his book "improvising jazz piano". iīm pretty sure he knows how these chords function.

the link smg provided above uses a similar approach.
as long as someone knows the difference between a pabst blue ribbon and a michelob i don't really care about much else.
a secondary dominant is any dominant or flatted 7th chord that is not on the fifth (v) of the scale. so if we're in the key of c, the expected dominant is g7 based on traditional classical harmony. however, in jazz, a d7 instead of a d min7, preceding g7 functions as a secondary dominant. d7 may also progress to db7 before proceeding to c whatever.

since jazz is so spontaneous in terms of harmony and melody i might add, secondary dominant 7ths can appear on any note or chromatic harmony of the scale. it may or may not depend on traditional progressions! once one becomes advanced in their playing, it might help not to think about secondary dominants or any such theory.
as i am learning right now:

eb7 going to abmaj7 in the key of c is:
v7/bvi going to bvimaj7 wich comes from the aeolian mode.

eb7 going to other place that is not ab (for example to cmaj7) in the key of c is:
biii7 going to imaj7

biii7 comes from the phrygian mode.

another thing is that this is not modulation yet.
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