MUS 112 Study Guide M (Chapter 13)

Dominant Seventh & Supertonic Seventh Chords

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  1. While the seventh added to a triad has been considered a chord tone for the past few hundred years, the interval of the seventh is also remains a dissonance.  The principles of nonharmonic tone treatment still require the same attention to its approach and, particularly, to its resolution.

  1. Characteristics of the Dominant Seventh Chord:

The V7 is freely used in any inversion, in both major and minor keys.

The V7 can be complete or incomplete.  If incomplete, the fifth is usually omitted.  A complete V7 is often followed by an incomplete tonic triad, or an incomplete V7 by a complete tonic triad.

In inversion, all chord members are usually present.

The passing second-inversion dominant seventh chord:  When used as a passing chord, the second-inversion-V7 is found between I and I6 or the reverse, fulfilling the same function as viio and the passing dominant triad in second inversion.  In its use between I6 and I, the seventh descends as expected.  But between I and I6, the seventh ascends, moving in tenths with the bass line.

When the seventh chord is repeated, the seventh may appear in another voice; the last seventh in the series resolves conventionally (descends a step).

The seventh of the chord may display an ornamented resolution, similar to those described for the suspension.

When the seventh chord is arpeggiated, the resolution of the seventh may be delayed, or even implied.

  1. The Supertonic Seventh Chord:  Like the supertonic triad, the supertonic seventh chord is commonly used to precede the dominant.  In fact, in the "full cadence," the progression I-ii7-V-I (most often ii six-five) is far more common that the I-IV-V-I or the I-ii-V-I progression.  In addition, the supertonic seventh is usually the preferred choice for a dominant preparation elsewhere in the phrase.  The supertonic seventh chord is a minor seventh chord (mm7) in a major key (ii7), and a half-diminished seventh chord (dm7) in a minor key (ii7).  (The ii six-five is sometimes called an "added sixth" chord in that it sounds like a triad with an added 6th scale degree.)

  1. Characteristics of the Supertonic Seventh Chord:

The approach to the seventh is commonly made by way of a suspension figure.  Since the seventh is the tonic of the key, such an approach is very easy.  The chords likely to precede ii7 are vi and IV, both containing the tonic note of the key.

The first inversion of this chord is used far more often than other positions, though all are useful. Like the ii6 and IV triads, the bass note of the ii six-five is scale degree 4, providing an excellent preparation for the dominant tone (5) in either V or tonic six-four.

The ii six-five is found in the most common of the passing six-four chord progressions:  IV6 - I six-four - ii six-five.

The seventh is commonly held over to become the root of the tonic six-four.  Since the root of I six-four is a dissonance (a fourth above the bass), the seventh of ii7, simply by standing still, becomes another dissonance, which then resolves down by step, taking care of both dissonances.

  1. Intervals in the V7 Chord:  In addition to those intervals which constitute the major triad in the dominant seventh chord, the following intervals, in relation to the 7th, are useful: root to seventh (m7), third to seventh (d5), fifth to seventh (m3), seventh to root (M2), seventh to third (A4), seventh to fifth (M6).

  1. The V7 Chord in the Melodic Line:  Intervals from the V7 chord are often incorporated in the melodic line.

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