Using Dominants – Part 5

In this new, 5 part series we’ll be looking at the importance of the dominant 7th chord and some of the more unusual places that you can use them. In part 5, we’ll be looking at the V on V theory:


So we come to our final part of the ‘Using Dominants’ series where we’ve looked at the function of a dominant 7th chord and the more unusual places that we can use a dominant 7th chord. In this final session we are going to be looking at the V on V theory.
If you look at the ‘Theory Maze’ blog I did in January, we looked at the idea of the cycle of fifths. In a lot of ways, this is simply a series of perfect cadences (V-I). If we start on C, and keep playing perfect cadences then we will go through all 12 notes and eventually land back onto C (chord diagram for guitarists at the bottom):


(V    –   I)        (V    –   I)         (V   -    I)        (V     –   I)      (V  –   I)       (V  –   I)

C7      F7      Bb7     Eb7     Ab7     Db7     Gb7     B7     E7     A7     D7     G7     C

        (V   –  I)     (V   –   I)    (V   –   I)     (V  -  I)    (V  -  I)    (V  -  I)


This shows how the tonic-dominant relationship ties together all 12 notes of music, revealing how important the perfect cadence is in Western music.
If you look back to ‘Using Dominants – Part 3’, we began to touch on this idea when looking at Secondary Dominants:


C Major:
I     ii     iii   IV   V   vi     vii
C  Dm  Em  F   G  Am  Bdim


If we use a dominant 7th on chord 2 then we’ll have the last three chords from the cycle of fifths diagram above:


 II   -   V   -  I
D7    G7     C


Having a strong understanding of the cycle of fifths also helps us modulate between keys. Again, we touched on this in ‘Using Dominants – Part 2’ when looking at dominant 7th chords on the tonic. I will do a series on modulating at some point in the future so won’t go any deeper than I did in ‘Using Dominants – Part 2’ for the moment.
I could say more on the subject, but I’m going to wait as it sets us up nicely for our next series. The next series will be a 3 part series on the beginnings of Jazz theory. It carries on nicely from what we’ve done in this series so it should fit well.


Cycle of fifths – Guitar chords:


C7           F7    Bb7    Eb7     Ab7    Db7     Gb7    B7     E7    A7    D7    G7    C

E —————————————————————————————————————-
B ————-6—————-4—————–2————————–5————-3————-5——
G —–9——8——7——-6——–5——–4——-3——–8——7—–6——5——4—–5——-
D —–8——7——6——-5——–4——–3——-2——–7——6—–5——4——3—–5——-
A —–x——8——x——-6——–x——–4——-x——–x——7—–x——5——x—–3——-
E —–8————–6——————-4—————–2——–7————–5—————3———-


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