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Music Theory:Diff.between dominant 5 & dom7

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Socorro 26 Jun 02 - 08:01 PM
Don Firth 26 Jun 02 - 09:16 PM
Murray MacLeod 27 Jun 02 - 08:02 PM
greg stephens 27 Jun 02 - 08:21 PM
Murray MacLeod 27 Jun 02 - 08:41 PM
greg stephens 27 Jun 02 - 08:59 PM
Anglo 28 Jun 02 - 01:48 AM
Don Firth 28 Jun 02 - 02:21 AM
Don Firth 28 Jun 02 - 02:33 AM
pavane 28 Jun 02 - 03:18 AM
greg stephens 28 Jun 02 - 07:09 AM
fogie 28 Jun 02 - 12:25 PM
greg stephens 28 Jun 02 - 12:31 PM
Don Firth 28 Jun 02 - 01:09 PM
greg stephens 28 Jun 02 - 01:23 PM
Don Firth 28 Jun 02 - 01:51 PM
Murray MacLeod 28 Jun 02 - 06:29 PM
pavane 29 Jun 02 - 04:34 AM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Jul 04 - 09:50 PM
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Subject: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: Socorro
Date: 26 Jun 02 - 08:01 PM

I have been learning a lot by reading some old threads on music theory (I love music theory, BTW).

Might someone here be able to give me a clear explanation of why the term "dominant" is used (confusingly for me) for both chords with a flatted 7th, and for the 5th scale degree? Eagerly awaiting Mudcat wisdom, with much appreciation...


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Jun 02 - 09:16 PM

This looks clear as mud at first perusal, but patiently plowing through may pay off. And this also may help.

I've been studying music for fifty years, but I'm still a bit fuzzy as to why the dominant chord is called the "dominant chord." Because it dominates the key? That's what I was told when I asked the question in a music theory class back in 1957. ("Well, okay, if you say so.")

I think it's probably because the dominant seventh (say, a G7) can't be in any key other than its home key (C). It contains G,B,D, and F. The two most closely related keys (keys that share the most notes in the scale) are G and F. The key of G has an F# in it, so the G7 can't be a chord in the key of G. The key of F has a Bb in it, so the G7 can't be in the key of F. The farther you go around the circle of fifths in either direction, the worse it gets. So the G7 points at the key of C as if to say "this is where I belong."

The dominant is always built on the fifth degree of the scale (in the key of C, that would be G). You would use a dominant seventh chord when you want to establish a "drop the other shoe" effect. By piling an F on top of a G triad (G, B, and D), you create a dissonance between the B and the F. The ear wants this dissonance resolved. The F wants to move down to an E and the B wants to move up to a C. It points at the C chord. Once that's done, the tension is relieved. Try playing a G7 and listen carefully to what the chord seems to want to do—or more precisely, what you feel like the chord should do. Then play a C. Does it sound like it's done it? Mission accomplished.

But you don't have to go there. Try playing a G7, then follow it with an F. That's called a "deceptive cadence." But sooner or later, you want to go back to the C.

I'll be back if needed.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 27 Jun 02 - 08:02 PM

The basic question being asked here is an etymological rather than a musical one, and I think the best way to answer it is to forget about chords for a moment and concentrate on the individual notes of the scale.

The basic note of the scale, the note on which the tune ends, is the "tonic", (deriving from "tone", I assume). Thus in the scale of C major the tonic note is C.

Now, if you sound the note of C on a guitar or a piano, certain overtones (other notes than C) are generated simultaneously, by far the strongest of which is the note of G, which is the fifth note of the scale of C major. Other overtones generated, less strongly, are the third E, and C an octave above the struck note. The strength of the G overtone, is the reason, IMHO, why G is said to be the "dominant" note of the key of C.

Now to chords. The "dominant seventh" chord is simply a conventional way of referring to the major triad formed by taking the dominant note of the scale as the root of the chord, and ading the flattened seventh note.

As an aside, I have always thought it strange that the convention of naming chords as C7, G7 etc should have been adopted for chords containing a flattened seventh. I would have thought it more logical that the chord which we know as Cmaj7 (C-E-G-B) would be designated as C7, and that the chord which we call C7 (C-E-G-Bflat) would have been called C flattened seventh (maybe C7flat) in shorthand. But I digress....

Murray


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 Jun 02 - 08:21 PM

Murray, I think calling it G7 when it has a flat seventh is quite logical, as these were the only kind of seventh chords used in early harmony.Early basic harmony was all diatonic (ie using only the notes actually in the scale you were using). The seventh on the dominant was the only one used, and it automatically had a flat seventh(seventh up from the dominant in a major key is always flat). So it was just called a seventh chord, you didnt need to specify that it was flat. Major sevenths came hundreds of years later. the first commonly used chromatic harmonies were dominant sevenths too, being those used in minor keys (eg EG#BD in A minor)


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 27 Jun 02 - 08:41 PM

I'm not sure that I can agree with your reasoning, greg.

I am no expert on early music, but I am quite certain that from the earliest days composers, in addition to the dominant seventh chord, would frequently have incorporated a flattened seventh in the tonic major chord in order to provide a resolution to the subdominant chord.

Incidentally, does anyone know at what point in musical history the "naming" of chords began? Did Beethoven and Bach ever refer to C7 and G9th ?

Murray


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 Jun 02 - 08:59 PM

Youre dead right, Murray, that sevenths on the tonic came in quite early in the history of harmony....but that just reinforces my point doesnt it? Because they had a flat seventh as well: so all the sevenths in use had flat sevenths, so they called them all sevenths.
I've no idea when terms like C7 came in. Late 19th century, at a guess? I've got a lot of music books, but I dont remember seeing that notation in anything pre-19000. Before that harmonies were related to the key you were in :II meaning triad on the second of the scale, and so on. Dominant sevenths were written down as V7. (I'm talking of the English/European stuff I'm familiar with, I've no doubt there are regioanal variations.I've been playing with Arabs, French, Kurds and Armenians recently, andnone of them use C7! They all write do7.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: Anglo
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 01:48 AM

The dominant chord is the chord built on the 5th degree of the scale. It may or may not have a 7th. Though usually scale degrees are numbered these days (Roman numberals, I, II, III etc.) they do have names. The degrees of the major scale are: Tonic Supertonic Mediant Subdominant Dominant Submediant Leading Note Tonic


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 02:21 AM

It's hard to credit now, but at one time the dominant seventh chord was a big no-no.

The third and the seventh of a dominant seventh chord (assuming a G7, B and F respectively) form a "tritone" (an interval of three whole steps, i.e., "three tones"). This is a dissonant interval and it's an awkward interval to sing, so it was never used in church music (things like Gregorian chant). In fact it was referred to as "the devil in music" and it was avoided like the plague. But—Claudio Monteverdi hauled off and used it in a madrigal arrangement of "Sumer is icumen in" right at the very end, just before it resolved to the tonic. He wanted that "drop the other shoe" effect and that was an effective way to get it. So, mark it down in your musical trivia book: Monteverdi was the first composer to use a dominant seventh chord. This was around 1635 or so, and it was really radical and avant garde at the time. Some people were startled and outraged. In fact, one critic said, "The human ear will never grow to tolerate such dissonance!" Nevertheless, more and more composers used it, the human ear did grow to tolerate such dissonance, and now it's commonplace.

The tritone is the famous "flatted fifth" in jazz (it's either a diminished fifth or and augmented fourth, depending on how you spell the interval), and there it sits, in every dominant seventh chord. By itself, a tritone is ambiguous. It can shrink to become a major third, or it can expand to become a minor sixth (a diminished seventh chord is made up of two overlapping tritones, and that's really ambiguous!). But combined with the other notes of the dominant seventh, it points strongly to the tonic of the key its in, so it's a strong closing cadence or a good way to modulate into another key.

When letter-name chord notation started I'm not sure, but I pretty sure it's fairly recent (maybe sometime in the 1800s or even more recent). Other than written music, classical musicians usually use a Roman numeral system for harmonic analysis. For example:—

I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, viio, and I would be C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim, and C in the key of C —or G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#dim, and G in the key of G. Added notes and inversions would be indicated by small superscript and subscript numbers to the right of the Roman numeral. The advantage of the system is that it works for any key.

By the way, Murray, in your post above, 27-Jun-02 - 08:02 PM, third paragraph—this is the most reasonable sounding explanation for "dominant" that I've heard so far.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 02:33 AM

I goofed. The zero to the right of the "vii" in the sequence of Roman numerals should be superscript.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: pavane
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 03:18 AM

According to my sources:

The Dominant is so named because it was the 'Chanting note' in plainsong (early church music). It was NOT necessarily the 5th note of the scale, there was a period of 'the wandering dominant' until it settled down on the 5th.

When western harmony evolved, it was found to be easiest to harmonize just one of the 'greek' modes, which became known as the Major scale.

Part of the reason for this is that this scale has a 'leading note' a semitone below the tonic. The chord sequence (cadence) V to I, e.g. G to C, in the key of C has a 'finished' sound to it (aka full close), and adding the leading note to the chord V makes it V7.

Although this is technically a dischord, it is resolved by the following chord, and western ears have become used to it.

If you are playing in a 'mode' such as Aeolian or Dorian, you will use the same chords as the major, but will not finish the tune on the tonic, therefore the 'Full close' is not appropriate, and you should play, for example, G instead of G7. The Aeolian cadence has a quite different sound, as the 'leading note' is a whole tone.

It is for this reason that the 'harmonic minor' key was evolved out of the modes. In that scale, the leading note is sharpened and you can once again use the dominant 7th.

Hope this helps


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 07:09 AM

Don Firth, you're confusing two different eras. Monteverdi was indeed around in 1630 but by that time dominant sevenths and all kinds of weirdy chords were long established. Check out any elizabethan( 1500's) key board or lute music, there's loads available. (Including plenty of folk related material suitable for guitar). "Summer is icumen in" is much earlier,( c 1300? I'm not up on latest attempts to date the MS) and is indeed incredibly advanced for its time. Itis in six parts ( a four part round with a twoperson "burden" or bass riff). Speaking from memory, it doesnt use the full dominant 7 at any point but it certainly features the tritone(B-F) and the BDF "dissonant" triad. It is written in C major, and uses the mode andharmonies which still dominate folk/pop music to this day( in my neck of the woods anyway). It is so clever and so advanced for the period you'd be almost tempted to write it off as a forgery(or possibly brought in in a time machine or by little grey men from another galaxy). Mind you, I'm speaking from a viewpoint of a while ago. Probably modern comparative music research has thrown up more equivalent stuff from that era?


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: fogie
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 12:25 PM

Greg , I'm worried about you having music books "before 19000", and how you know about little grey men! no wonder you are a whiz at answering questions.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 12:31 PM

You'ld be amazed at the material we've acquired between Alpha Centauri and here. And that session at Scruffy Nellie's on Betelgeuse back in 12,375 was something else.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 01:09 PM

Could very well be right, Greg. I haven't actually made a study of it myself. The info I have comes from forty-five year old class notes.

Knowledgeable bunch here!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 01:23 PM

History changes in 45 years Don..hey youve been around longer than I have. I think I'll run around and jump up and down a bit, I feel young.Yippeeeeeee. But don't accuse me of having studied anything, never had a lesson in me life.


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 01:51 PM

Well, yeah, but you can learn a helluva lot without taking lessons. Some of the most useful stuff I know, I grubbed out on my own.

But Monteverdi revisited. . . . An advanced search in google.com, putting in "dominant seventh chord" +Monteverdi came up with several websites, including this one. It contains the following:—

"Ancient Chinese and Greek musicians discovered the natural harmonics, and the scales of all cultures were derived from those harmonics. They also discovered that fixed tone instruments cannot freely modulate to all musical keys when so tuned. In the middle ages musicians began tempering their keyboard and fretted instruments to allow for some modulation. Tempered intonation is not in tune with natural harmonics.

"Keyboards and frets digitized musical intonation, dividing the natural continuum of tones into distinct points that were not meant to change. Skilled musicians loathed the aesthetic compromise. "The easiest (system) to sing," said Martin Mersenne in 1636, "is that which follows the natural harmonics." At that time, when Claudio Monteverdi introduced the dominant seventh chord, its dissonance was more sharply felt than it is today. When a modern, tempered orchestra plays Monteverdi, the contrast between true consonance and dissonance is obscured. Inversions, modulations, and other compositional resources have also been dulled by temperament." [emphasis mine]

This was essentially what Prof. John Verrall at the University of Washington School of Music said in class in 1957. He also said that Monteverdi got a lot of grief for one lousy passing tone over a dominant triad (incidentally, nobody was saying that Monteverdi wrote "sumer is icumen in;" what he did was write a madrigal arrangement of it). That Monteverdi's was the first semi-intentional use of the dominant seventh chord was reaffirmed by Prof. John Cowell of the Cornish School of the Arts in 1963 (according to my class notes).

I also found this on another website:— "What might look superficially like a dominant-seventh chord in Monteverdi is really a passing tone above the dominant triad. By the time we get to Corelli there are real dominant-sevenths, treated as chords not as counterpoint. What we ought to be talking about is not what we can name but what the names represent." Which seems to be saying, "just because you can put a modern name to it doesn't necessarily mean that that's what was intended at the time."

So, I dunno. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 28 Jun 02 - 06:29 PM

"just because you can put a modern name to it doesn't necessarily mean that that's what was intended at the time."

So true, and so applicable to all genres of music. Passing notes do NOT necessarily a nameable chord make.

Murray


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Subject: RE: BS: Music Th:Diff.between dominant5 & dom7
From: pavane
Date: 29 Jun 02 - 04:34 AM

Yes. My MIDI analysis program ("Hands-on MIDI Chords") uses various criteria to try and distinguish notes which form a chord from passing notes.


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Subject: RE: Music Theory:Diff.between dominant 5 & dom7
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Jul 04 - 09:50 PM

REFRESH for
'period of the wandering dominant' reference


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