Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

How do secondary dominants work?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JohnBarr, Feb 2, 2005.


  1. JohnBarr

    JohnBarr

    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    My question is related in part to the thread WillPlay4Food started on Anthropology
    HTML:
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=163372
    I understand a secondary dominant to be the V of ii
    So if the key is Bb, the secondary dominant is G which is the 5th of C (the 2nd of Bb)
    How am I doing so far?

    In trying to figure out how cord progressions are constructed, I've been thinking that the substitution was only made on the key for the song. So you could throw in a G when the i of i of ii-V-i would lead you to expect a Bb.

    But I think I didn't think far enough. It seems that you can do a SD substitution for almost any cord at any time. So I might find an SD in place of the ii (C) or the V (F)
    Yes?

    (If so, then I'd be subbing A for C and D for F)

    I'm sure there are no hard and fast rules, but it seems that in general the substitutions are plugged in in predictable spots (final bars of the A section maybe?)

    And it also seems that there can be mini ii-V progression slipped in to a measure at some point. So if I'm in Bb and expecting VF, I might get a quick G-C instead.

    I have to stop now. I'm getting dizzy.


    John
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    No, not really. Secondary dominance doesn't have ANYTHING to do with the key you are in. It has to do with what key the dominant chord is pointing at. So if a tune is in Bb and there's an F#7 or a Bb7 or a C##7, these are ALL secondary dominants. F#7 is the V7 of bii, Bb7 is the V7 of IV, C##7 is the dominant of F##. Clearer?

    Secondly, a secondary dominant is NOT a substitution. It's the chord chosen by the composer as the harmony for the melody. A substitution is a DIFFERENT chord that fills the same function as the "official" chord.

    That's basically the Berklee Way of Life, any chord can have the appropriate 2/5 put in front of it. It is a formula that can be (and has been) used to make a wide variety of different songs all sound the same.
     
  3. JohnBarr

    JohnBarr

    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    Thanks Ed!

    --back to the books...

    John
     
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    "In trying to figure out how cord progressions are constructed"

    I been thinking about this a little - I think you're kind of going about this a little ass backward. You can construct a chord progression in any way your ear and intellect push you. You can write a song that's all dominant chords or that doesn't have ANY dominant chords. You can write a melody and use 20 different progressions to harmonize it. It just all depends on what you are HEARING or what you want to HEAR.

    AFTER THE FACT, using the analytical tools of functional harmony can show you why the stuff sounds the way it does, what key centers certain chords are pointing at, how the melody and harmony are working. But I don't know any composers that sit down and say "this chord's a Cmin7, so the next chord HAS to be ______".

    Do you have a teacher? What do they say when you talk to them about this stuff?
     
  5. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I want to make sure I understand this correctly. Carrying on from my Anthropology thread (thanks for the props, JohnBarr) let's say I'm in the 'key' of Bb. So, the Gm7 - C7 (instead of Cm7) played before the F7 chord 'fits' because the Gm7 - C7 chords are the ii-V of F7, creating a strong resolution to the F7 chord and treating the F7 as if it were the I chord, even though the F7 chord is really the IV in the context of Bb Major. Is this right?

    Ed,

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge here. I for one greatly appreciate your contributions to the General Instruction forum.
     
  6. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    In my case I'm just tring to understand how this all fits together. So far the teaching I've had revolved around sheet music reading/playing, technique & major scales with their associated modes. I will be taking lessons again in the future but I have to wait until I get this whole fatherhood thing down first before I can put aside the time required to get the most I can out of structured instruction.

    So at the moment I only have the sheet music to Anthropology and a few other jazz tunes and this forum to try and learn what makes jazz tick. I know this is a lifelong quest (every time I learn one thing I realize there are ten other things that I now have to learn) but I'm not going anywhere :) so I'm willing to put in the time to learn. I'm hoping playing through some songs and asking these questions will get some of the more traditional jazz movements (ii-V-I, rhythm changes) into my head so I can both hear and understand what's happening.
     
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well not exactly. The chords are the ii/V of F major and F7 is the V7 of Bbmajor, so what is being set up is the implied key center of Fmajor (Gm7 C7) going to Bb major (F7) and finally resolving to the tonic of the original key (Bb major).
    Clearer?
     
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I would also check out some of the discussion in threads like BLANKET SCALES, etc that Durrl has thoughtfully arranged in a sticky in the DB Theory forum.

    If you don't have a half speed recorder or a program like Slow Gold (which will slow CDs down to half speed without changing the pitch), grab one. Listening to solos over harmony at half speed until you can sing them is a great way to hear how different players approach playing over/through harmony.

    I wouldn't worry so much about modes, I would recommend working more on ear training, understanding functional harmony, scale work and arpeggios, and some improvisational exercises. You don't need to study with a bassist for that (especially if you play electric), look for a good pianist or horn player.
     
  9. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Yes, definitely clearer, thanks.

    I guess because of all the time I spent practicing 12bar blues & jazz-blues progressions I automatically think F7 because of the use of dominant 7th chords even when the scale calls for Maj 7th chords. It just sounds better and allows you to go places other than resolving to the root which seems like the only choice when using a Maj 7th chord. :)
     
  10. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    So is this how you would permanently move to a different key in the middle of a song? It seems like in the example we've been discussing I could use the Gm7 - C7 into F(Maj)7 to move the key center from Bb Major to F Major. Does this sound right? Would this allow for a smooth move between keys?
     
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Sure, you see that a lot in AABA tunes in the second A going to the bridge.
     
  12. JohnBarr

    JohnBarr

    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
     
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I disagree with your remark about "conventions and expectations", the only hard and fast rule is "what do you want it to sound like and where do you want it to go?"

    You sound like you want them to be rules and they aren't. They are just a set of observations.
     
  14. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    There are tons of ways to change keys, both prepared and unprepared.

    There's the "Beach Boys" method where you just all of a sudden go up a step. Sometimes that's prepared by some II-V movements, and sometimes it's just "hey we're up a step now".

    There's the "Beatles" major to minor change (or vice versa) - not major to relative minor, just change that Am to A major.

    Then there's the most common method in pop music, where the V7 suddenly becomes the I. Everyone's used that, and it works just about every time.

    And there are other ways that defy my typing skills. See Bach and Duke Ellington, etc. All kidding aside, some time with Bach never hurt any bassist. He wrote phenomenal bass lines, could imply more harmony with two parts than most composers can do with orchestras, and literally wrote the book on changing keys.