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Secondary Dominants

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by qfbass, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. qfbass


    Mar 9, 2011
    At the risk of sounding very noobish -
    Would someone be able to elaborate on the theory behind secondary DIMINISHED (NOT DOMINANT)? I get the applications like moving between two diatonic chords a tone appart but how does that work? :help:
  2. qfbass


    Mar 9, 2011
    derp I meant secondary diminished, thanks haha
  3. it's the same concept as an applied dominant. in fact, a lot of texts will still refer to an "applied diminished" chord as just another type of secondary dominant, even though it's literal chord quality is not dominant.

    if you understand applied dominants, applied diminished chords are easy. so first review-

    applied dominants- creating that V-I relationship to a chord other than I. so in C, a common choice would be V/V, so a V in the key of G, or in other words, D major (or D Dominant) --> G major, likely to then turn to G7 and resolve back to C.

    so now the same thing applies with diminished chords being applied other than where they appear diatonically. so if we're in C, and want to strengthen the arrival to V, but don't want to use a D7 chord, another choice would be a diminished chord- like the chord built naturally on a leading tone in any key. in this case, the applied diminished chord to G would be F# diminished, often fully diminished (F# A C Eb) to make the effect even stronger.

    weather it's an applied dominant or applied diminished/leading tone chord, the idea is the same- as long as you're okay with chord spelling, it's really easy.
    mtto likes this.
  4. qfbass


    Mar 9, 2011
    Okay yep I get all that, but maybe I'm not using the right term then? From what I can gather you can use a secondary diminished (if that's the right term?) to lead from one chord to the next if they're a tone apart. For example you could go (in C major) Cmaj7, C#dim (this is the secondary diminished chord I thought) and then Dm7 if you were going so I - biio7 - ii instead of something like I - V7 - ii. It's similar to a tritone sub I guess? I'm not sure how it comes about though. Thanks for the help too!
    davidhilton likes this.
  5. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Isn't that what groooooove just said?

    | C C#º | Dm |

    or: | I #iº | ii |

    I'd suggest using #iº instead of biiº. Especially since the motion is "upward".

    You could also use the label: viiº/ii - I suppose. This would indicate the "secondary" part of the function.

    Kind of the same as: V7(b9)/ii
  6. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    In the idea of the progression C C#dim Dm if you think of the C#dim as a substitute for an A7 (the secondary dominant) you have these chord tones in common C#-E-G. If you add the Bb on the top you could make the case that it functions like an A7b9 (A-C#-E-G-Bb).
    oren and mtto like this.
  7. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Another way to treat the progression:
    Cmaj7 - C#dim7 - Dmin7: is to hear/think of the C#dim7 as the first inversion of the A7b9 ( or A7b9 with a C# in the bass).
    The C#dim7 is sometimes referred to a "Passing Diminished" chord, passing between 2 chords whose roots are a step apart.
    As Stick mentioned - Imaj7 - VI7b9 ( with the C# in the bass) moving to - ii min7.

    It's not related to a Tritone substitution.
    Groove Doctor and mtto like this.
  8. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Roy types faster than me!
    Thanks, Roy.
  9. qfbass


    Mar 9, 2011
    Thanks guys! Got it now! Something was just not clicking haha
  10. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Passing chords...
  11. I don't know if any of you play guitar also but in the new Guitar Techniques book for this month there was a short article on passing chords.
    Roy Vogt likes this.
  12. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Going from Cmaj7 to D-7 via C#dim is more like using an A7b9/C#, which is the V/ii, Ive never heard the term secondary diminished, I think you just have the terminology mixed up a bit. C#dim is C#, E, G, Bb, which is an A7b9 without the root. So the C#dim is implying the V7/ii, which is a secondary dom.
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Secondary diminished is definitely a normal entity in classical theory. The way it's described in that context is that since any diatonic chord can serve as a temporary tonic, it is possible to have V/?, V7/?, viiØ/?, and viio7/? ...for major diatonic chords, the "correct" secondary diminished is said to be Ø, and for minor ones, 07 is the standard choice. This is really only true of Bach's era, though, since IME after that composers tend to write fully diminished when using secondary vii chords regardless of the quality of the resolution chord. Beethoven was fond of using viio7/V in the symphonies as a sort of surprise delayed resolution.

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