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Dominant Approach Notes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by cassanova, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I was rereading a method book of mine and it was discussing the dominant approach. I believe it said that a dominant approach is a resolution to a target from a 5th of the target. Im not quite sure Im understanding this correctly, and I dont have the book with me right now. Does that mean if Im playing in G and I want to go to the 5th (D) Id play an A note as my approach note to the target note of D? I just wanna make sure Ive got this right, since the book explains it a bit unclearly to me.
  2. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Since no one else replied to your post I will attempt to answer it. The dominant's function in classic theory is to lead to the tonic. The dominant sets up tension and the tonic releases it.

    Now in your example moving from G (major?) to D you don't really need to play a dominant to the dominant (A to D) Since D(D7) is a dominant to G.

    However if what you want to do is to modulate to the KEY of D MAJOR from G MAJOR you could play a A as a leading tone to D , because the A7 would imply a new tonal center to the new key of D.

    Perhaps someone else could simplify what I'm trying to say here....

  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    MAMACASS - You've got the idea. The theory behind the dominant approach tone is that any chord can be preceded by it's V chord. So when moving to the D, you would indeed play the A, which if you wanted you could precede by with the E, etc, etc, etc. A whole bar of this (using your example of G to D chord changes) would look like G B E A and then D on the 1 of the next bar.

    Keep it up!
  4. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Thanks for the help guys.

    It took me a minute to analyze the progression you typed Pac. I was a bit perplexed as to how the E was working itself into the patern. But it clicked. I was like duh hey ****head its the maj 6 of G. At least thats what I came up with.

    I dont often do this stuff in my head, usually have bass in hand when I do it all. Its a tad trickier when I actually have to think it all out in my head without a visual reference. No worries man, Im not giving up and plan on keepin it up for a long time to come.

    Blinky's got you on the path here, as usual - he is the true guru.

    Here's a bit of help in understanding this: Use the Circle of Fifths to help find the "V7 of". The V chord of any given chord is the one immedately counterclockwise from that chord in the circle:


    So, the E in question in your post is merely the V chord of the A, which was the V chord of the D, which ultimately was the V chord of the original chord G.

    Extra credit stuff (and getting ever so slightly off topic...): The most common chord progression in any given key - other that I-IV-V-I - is one that is descending fifths. That order would work out to this:


    Apply that to the given chords in any key, say C for simplicity and you get this:


    Notice anything???? (Hint: Circle Of Fifths.....)

    You will find the ii-V-I all over jazz, and the vi-ii-V-I is THE 50's pop/early rock ballad progression. Analyze all the chord progressions you know, and you will see that a large number of them are using this bit of harmonic motion.

    The Circle is your friend....

  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Yeah, CASS, what Gard said about the E being the V of A, which is the V of D.

    Added bonus: the B in the original bassline I popped out is the V of E and the 3rd of the chord.
  7. Chris Tarry

    Chris Tarry

    Mar 20, 2000
    New York
    Endorsing Artist: Moollon Basses, D'Addario, Markbass, GruvGear

    You can take the dominant approach concept even further. The dominant approach is the most basic of way's to get from chord to chord in a standard walking bass line here are a few others:

    1/2 step from above
    1/2 step from below
    whoe step from above
    whole step from below
    scale tone from above
    scale tone from below

    One basic walking concept is that your ear wants to hear the chord tones on beats 1 & 3 and passing tones or approach tones on 2 & 4. If we take one of the examples from above through a standard ii-V- I it would look like this...

    Let's try 1/2 step from above..

    Chords:------|D-7 . . . |G7 . . . |Cmaj7. . .|
    Bass Line:-|D E F Ab|G A B Db|C

    Notice the Ab to G half step above approach to setting up the next G7 chord. Then the Db to C to set up the Cmaj7 chord. As well you obviously have the root on beats one of every bar followed by a scale tone on beats two (functioning as a passing tone) then chord tones (in this case the 3rd) on beats three in every bar.

    Try this with all the above approaches and you will be walking through changes in no time...(If you aren't already..)

    Hope that helps,
    Chris Tarry
  8. Can I make a recommendation? Learn to play piano if you don't already. The time I've spent studying harmony at the keyboard has had an immense impact on the development of my walking lines (and, for that matter, my soloing).

    Once you have a visual reference other than frets or hand positions, you begin to see how chord tones flow together, and why certain resolutions are prettier than others.
  9. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Thanks again for all the input fellas.

    Some of the replies left me a bit confused, but I think I'll be able to figure it out on my own.
  10. Secksay

    Secksay Guest

    Sep 6, 2002
    New York, NY
    a really good thing to remember when thinking in terms of chord resolution is to visualize a triangular flow.

    Tonic leads to subdominant, which leads to dominant, which leads back to tonic.

       ^      \
      /        \/
    tonic <- dominant

    An example of this is the classic 2-5-1 progression.
  11. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    here's a simple example of what you are asking.

    its called BACK CYCLING.

    say you have 3 bars of C Maj and the 4th bar is GDom.

    the bar before the GDom could be the 5th of GDom or Dmin...the ii of C.

    so then you'd have

    C C dmin GDom


    I I ii V


    backcycle the dmin to a-min

    C amin dmin GDom

    or I vi ii V

    this is very common in jazz and classical harmonies.

    also, when the chord preceding is the dominant of the next chord, this opens up the world of altered tones!!!

    tension and release!


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