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ty45 11th July 2019 08:44 AM

Borrowed, Sus and secondary dom chord function
 
So I'm starting to really dive into the chord functions when making my progressions. I understnad the whole tonic-sub-dominant structure but what happens when you start to apply borrowed chords, secondary dominants and sus chords? What type of funciton do these have? Are there general 'rules' or ideas applied to this?

And for a specific example, I'm looking at Hotel California. i-V7-VIIsus2-IV9/3 are the first 4 chords. The V7 is a secondary dominant. I don't see how it can "lawfully" go into the VIIsus2. From my own logic the only way it makes sense is this:

The V7 of Bm (the songs key) is the iii of the relative major (effectively making it a 'tonic' chord). We turn it into a dominant chord, no problem. Now the VII is a 'dominant' chord itself in the major key (The V of the relative major). But this dominant chord is a sus2 chord which I suppose relinquishes its 'dominant' function? So that the #3 (Bb note) in the V7 pulls towards that B note in the sus chord? So then what does this mean in regards to how dominants pull towards certain chords? Is it just one note it needs to resolve properly?

And the rest. I'm afraid I don't have the energy to think this through fully. Hopefully someone can help my ramblings and make sense of them. Thank you.

Dave Polich 14th July 2019 02:19 AM

Not sure what you mean by a “borrowed”
chord..

Anyway I believe you are overthinking it.
Dont waste your valuable time you have left
on this planet with wondering if your
chords are “correct”. Just write the song
and if it sounds ok to you then it is. Really
simple.

soldat 14th July 2019 02:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dave Polich (Post 14093607)
Not sure what you mean by a “borrowed”
chord..

Anyway I believe you are overthinking it.
Dont waste your valuable time you have left
on this planet with wondering if your
chords are “correct”. Just write the song
and if it sounds ok to you then it is. Really
simple.

Or, be interested in the things that interest you.

Telling someone who is trying to learn that they are wasting their time on the planet (because, let me guess, you never understood theory and you have a huuuuge inferiority complex about it) is a dick move.

I would LOVE to hear some of your non-wasted time songs with all the correct chords? Link please.

Poopypants 14th July 2019 05:40 PM

You might be overanalyzing the chords. It's i-V-FLATVII-IV-VI-III. The only chord that doesn't exist in the key is the major IV. The motion is all I-V, moving down in whole steps.

V7 is not a secondary dominant, ever, in any situation. It is dominant. A secondary dominant has a V-I relationship with any chord that isn't the I. So a II7 chord is a secondary dominant IF it resolves to a V or sub V.

The F sharp MAJOR chord is in no way the iii of the relative major. iii is minor; this chord is major. It is in a different key from the relative major. There is no way to rationalize it as being in the relative major. It is simply the V of the key of B min.

I'm not so sure that the flat VII chord is a sus2. Either way, it is possible to have a secondary dominant with suspended notes, but that's not what's happening here. Secondary dominants would be defined by the motion as well as chord quality. It would definitely need to be major to be secondary dominant, so *I think* lack of a defined third still qualifies. If it's minor then it has ii relationship to the target chord, which would then often be a dominant.

One thing that's happening is you're applying a classical music description of harmony in a different context. A lot of "rules" don't apply. (There are just different rules...)

Search online for definitions of tonic, sub dominant, sub dominant minor, dominant, secondary dominant.

Here are some basic definitions:

A tonic chord contains the major 3 of the key. So, key of C: A min, C Maj, E min

Sub dominant contains the 6th degree. D min, F Maj, A min

Sub Dominant Minor contains the FLATTED 6th degree. This is your borrowed chord. It is borrowed from the parallel minor. D dim, F min, A flat Maj. Note that a Flat VII7 is sub dominant minor, but a FlatVII MAJ7 is sub dominant.

Dominant contains the 7th degree. G Maj, B dim. E min doesn't count. I have no explanation except that it's tonic. It has the major third.

Secondary dominant is a major triad or dominant chord that has a V-I relationship with ANY chord that isn't the I.

Ultimately context defines how you'd analyze a chord. A chord could be analyzed several different ways, but the approach and departure are what defines the function.

Dave Polich 14th July 2019 09:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by soldat (Post 14094154)
Or, be interested in the things that interest you.

Telling someone who is trying to learn that they are wasting their time on the planet (because, let me guess, you never understood theory and you have a huuuuge inferiority complex about it) is a dick move.

I would LOVE to hear some of your non-wasted time songs with all the correct chords? Link please.

Go to the music page on my website:
www.davepolich.com

Hey man, you not only misunderstood
my comments, you reacted with an insult,
which means you had an angry reaction.
No need for insults, I didnt intend to insult
you.

Its cool to dive into chord structures, sure.
In my experience as a songwriter, the last
thing I do is spend time analyzing what I’ve
written. That IS wasting time to me. But
perhaps you are younger than I am (I’m 66)
and believe you have the time to spare. So
go for it in that case.

RyanC 16th July 2019 08:21 PM

Hotel California doesn't have any sus chords, Bm, F#maj, A, E, G, Em F#maj all triads (nice and cleanly arpeggiated even in the iconic guitar part).

For me it plays between a dorian sonority and aeolian (minor). The E major being the "borrowing from dorian" chord. Everything else is just B harmonic minor or natural minor. It's not uncommon in many styles to hear shifting between harmonic and natural minor.

I agree that classical theory isn't really applicable here...

newguy1 17th July 2019 05:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RyanC (Post 14098967)
Hotel California doesn't have any sus chords, Bm, F#maj, A, E, G, Em F#maj all triads (nice and cleanly arpeggiated even in the iconic guitar part).

For me it plays between a dorian sonority and aeolian (minor). The E major being the "borrowing from dorian" chord. Everything else is just B harmonic minor or natural minor. It's not uncommon in many styles to hear shifting between harmonic and natural minor.

I agree that classical theory isn't really applicable here...

Note that while composing, they're not thinking "I want to borrow from dorian." They're just strumming the memorized guitar chord fingerings feeling out what sounds good.

That's the key. . . feel out what sounds good without thinking too hard about anything. You'll end up in all kinds of cool places that music theorists have to go to lengths to describe. Guitar as an instrument sets this up nicely with its memorized preset chord positions you slide around and have fun with.

RyanC 17th July 2019 09:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newguy1 (Post 14100583)
Note that while composing, they're not thinking "I want to borrow from dorian." They're just strumming the memorized guitar chord fingerings feeling out what sounds good.

That's the key. . . feel out what sounds good without thinking too hard about anything. You'll end up in all kinds of cool places that music theorists have to go to lengths to describe. Guitar as an instrument sets this up nicely with its memorized preset chord positions you slide around and have fun with.

Yeah for sure. Theory always comes after somebody does something, so then they have to try to come up with a way to make it fit neatly into a box....which makes it somewhat useless as a writing tool.

For creators IMO the best bet is to learn songs by ear and develop that inner vocabulary, so when you have an idea, you can make that idea into reality. Let someone else figure out what box it belongs in.

12tone 17th July 2019 11:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ty45 (Post 14088696)
So I'm starting to really dive into the chord functions when making my progressions. I understnad the whole tonic-sub-dominant structure but what happens when you start to apply borrowed chords, secondary dominants and sus chords? What type of funciton do these have? Are there general 'rules' or ideas applied to this?

And for a specific example, I'm looking at Hotel California. i-V7-VIIsus2-IV9/3 are the first 4 chords. The V7 is a secondary dominant. I don't see how it can "lawfully" go into the VIIsus2. From my own logic the only way it makes sense is this:

The V7 of Bm (the songs key) is the iii of the relative major (effectively making it a 'tonic' chord). We turn it into a dominant chord, no problem. Now the VII is a 'dominant' chord itself in the major key (The V of the relative major). But this dominant chord is a sus2 chord which I suppose relinquishes its 'dominant' function? So that the #3 (Bb note) in the V7 pulls towards that B note in the sus chord? So then what does this mean in regards to how dominants pull towards certain chords? Is it just one note it needs to resolve properly?

And the rest. I'm afraid I don't have the energy to think this through fully. Hopefully someone can help my ramblings and make sense of them. Thank you.

Just a word of note - secondary dominant refers to a dominant (a V or a V7) that is not of the tonic. So, in a tune in the key of C, its dominant is G or G7. If considering all the diatonic secondary dominants, then there would be 6: A7 - V7/ii, B7 - V7/iii, C7 - V7/IV, D7 - V7/V, E7 - V7/vi, F#7 - V7/vii. Chromatically, there would be 11 secondary dominants.

The verse of Hotel California is in B min, but hints at G major (through a sequence), and the D to Em is a deceptive cadence in G, but immediately pivots back to Bm through its dominant, F#7.

The chorus is in G, but like the verse, hints at Bm with the F#7.

(verse)
Bm - F#7 - Am - E - G - D - Em - F#7

B: i - V7 - bVII - V/bVII - VI - V/VI - iv - V7



(chorus)
G - D - F#7 - Bm - G - D - Em - F#7

G: I - V - V7/iii - iii - I - V - vi - V7/iii


So, I see in the verse, functionally the only secondary dominant is D, which is V/VI. In the chorus, it's F#7 - V7/iii.

RyanC 18th July 2019 01:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 12tone (Post 14101310)
The chorus is in G, but like the verse, hints at Bm with the F#7.

I can't agree on that one, Hotel California is in Bm/Dmaj. The G in the chorus is a IV chord not a I (or a VI chord in Bm). It's not Am in the verse it's Amaj. There is never a C natural in the song (to suggest the key of G maj) and if you add extensions to the chorus it's a C# that sounds right (Gmaj7#11, Dmaj7, F#7 and Bm9) not C natural.

The chorus is IV-I-V/vi-vi-IV-I-ii-V/vi in D maj or VI-III-V-i-VI-III-iv-V in Bmin. If we consider the F# major to be diatonic to B harmonic minor, then the only non-diatonic chord in the song is the E major in the verse.

12tone 18th July 2019 10:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RyanC (Post 14102160)
I can't agree on that one, Hotel California is in Bm/Dmaj. The G in the chorus is a IV chord not a I (or a VI chord in Bm). It's not Am in the verse it's Amaj. There is never a C natural in the song (to suggest the key of G maj) and if you add extensions to the chorus it's a C# that sounds right (Gmaj7#11, Dmaj7, F#7 and Bm9) not C natural.

The chorus is IV-I-V/vi-vi-IV-I-ii-V/vi in D maj or VI-III-V-i-VI-III-iv-V in Bmin. If we consider the F# major to be diatonic to B harmonic minor, then the only non-diatonic chord in the song is the E major in the verse.

Well the G is clearly lydian. I don't necessarily denote a key signature to assigning or identifying the tonic (especially for non-classical tunes). If so then one would have to say that C blues is in the key of F...who thinks like that? The mode that it's in to me determines what you call it. Like So What, which is in D dorian - who the hell says that it's in C major?

To me Hotel California is the duality between B min and G major. It's like when the verse goes to the chorus, bam, you're there seamlessly in G (it's a deceptive cadence from the F#7 - it's an arrival). I don't think D maj for one second when the chorus hits.

RyanC 19th July 2019 02:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 12tone (Post 14102979)
Well the G is clearly lydian. I don't necessarily denote a key signature to assigning or identifying the tonic (especially for non-classical tunes). If so then one would have to say that C blues is in the key of F...who thinks like that? The mode that it's in to me determines what you call it. Like So What, which is in D dorian - who the hell says that it's in C major?

Fair enough, I would't say that So What "Is in D" though...to me it needs the qualifier of dorian. Same thing with the blues, it's not "In C" it's "Blues in C" which are two different things (to me). When the C blues goes to the IV7, it's not in Bb and so on it's still just blues in C.

I guess I tend to think of it as either major or minor unless it's something like Get Lucky which is clearly dorian. IE Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is, to me, "In C". Even though I can see the case for it being Am for the verses and F lydian for the first part of chorus and then C at the end. "Just the two of us" is in Fm (again to me) even if the Db lydian even get's two fived. Maybe with both of those and hotel california, for my ears, something that is lydian needs to really emphasize that #11 in the melody or chords in a way that makes that lydian sonority obvious. Same thing with Fast Car- that just sounds like it starts on the IV...and so on. Something like a movie trailer that's driving that #11 home hits me as Lydian.

But I can respect that you see it differently, Horses for courses...

12tone 19th July 2019 05:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RyanC (Post 14103335)
"Just the two of us" is in Fm (again to me) even if the Db lydian even get's two fived. .

JTTOU is clearly in F minor.

It's the same bVIMaj7 - V7 - i progression, like in the Isley Brother's Between the Sheets. Or practically every other New Jack Swing song it seems...

RyanC 20th July 2019 03:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 12tone (Post 14104324)
JTTOU is clearly in F minor.

It's the same bVIMaj7 - V7 - i progression, like in the Isley Brother's Between the Sheets. Or practically every other New Jack Swing song it seems...

Can you really do the new jack swing sound without it?



Survey says...nope! lol

12tone 20th July 2019 04:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RyanC (Post 14105217)
Can you really do the new jack swing sound without it?



Survey says...nope! lol

Haha!

That harmonic sonority is ever present in hip-hop, especially Between the Sheets which was sampled by 132 songs (perhaps the most famous being Big Poppa by The Notorious B.I.G), and covered 7 times.

JTTOU was sampled less, in 48 songs, but was covered way more, in 33 songs.

https://www.whosampled.com/The-Isley...en-the-Sheets/
https://www.whosampled.com/Grover-Wa...the-Two-of-Us/

creegstor 20th July 2019 02:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 12tone (Post 14102979)
To me Hotel California is the duality between B min and G major. It's like when the verse goes to the chorus, bam, you're there seamlessly in G (it's a deceptive cadence from the F#7 - it's an arrival). I don't think D maj for one second when the chorus hits.

I don't hear it as G at all. The melody doesn't resolve until the word Cali-FORNIA on D (relative major of verse). G before that is as unstable as all get out. Also the walk up back to G reinforces that sense of instability for 2nd time around. It makes the whole chord feels like an extended chordal appogiatura. (for want of a better way of putting it!)

12tone 20th July 2019 05:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by creegstor (Post 14105746)
I don't hear it as G at all. The melody doesn't resolve until the word Cali-FORNIA on D (relative major of verse). G before that is as unstable as all get out. Also the walk up back to G reinforces that sense of instability for 2nd time around. It makes the whole chord feels like an extended chordal appogiatura. (for want of a better way of putting it!)

I agree with you - in the melody, the G serves as a suspended 4 which resolves to the 3rd degree of D; it's plagal, IV - I in that sense.

But let me ask you this: if you put a fermata on the D, does it sound final? Within the first 4 bars of the chorus, the G - D is the antecedent, and the F#7 - Bmin is the consequent. The next 4 bars, the G - D veers to Emin, which is a deceptive cadence in G, in that sense it's I - V - vi in G, not necessarily IV - I - ii in D...but then swings immediately towards B min with the F#7, which could lead back to the G and the top of the chorus if need be.

The thing is, the chorus itself is like a harmonic shepard tone, in that it could cycle/repeat forever without any of the chords having a feel of stasis; there is a constant harmonic motion without a firm resolution, thus I think can cause some nebulousness in analyzing what the predominant tonal center is.

I don't think viewing it in either G or D is right or wrong, not any more than the chorus could be viewed as easily in B min.

creegstor 21st July 2019 07:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 12tone (Post 14105984)
I agree with you - in the melody, the G serves as a suspended 4 which resolves to the 3rd degree of D; it's plagal, IV - I in that sense.

But let me ask you this: if you put a fermata on the D, does it sound final? Within the first 4 bars of the chorus, the G - D is the antecedent, and the F#7 - Bmin is the consequent. The next 4 bars, the G - D veers to Emin, which is a deceptive cadence in G, in that sense it's I - V - vi in G, not necessarily IV - I - ii in D...but then swings immediately towards B min with the F#7, which could lead back to the G and the top of the chorus if need be.

The thing is, the chorus itself is like a harmonic shepard tone, in that it could cycle/repeat forever without any of the chords having a feel of stasis; there is a constant harmonic motion without a firm resolution, thus I think can cause some nebulousness in analyzing what the predominant tonal center is.

I don't think viewing it in either G or D is right or wrong, not any more than the chorus could be viewed as easily in B min.

Yeah it doesn't feel like a final home, but to me it does feel like more of a resolution than anything else in the sequence. However as you allude to, these kinds of sequences function nearly like the musical equivalent of an Escher illustration.

That said, if I absolutely had to pin it, I'd classify D as a kind of surrogate home key for this section, one still itching to get back to the relative minor.

newguy1 22nd July 2019 05:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newguy1 (Post 14100583)
You'll end up in all kinds of cool places that music theorists have to go to lengths to describe.

The rest of the thread turned out to be a solid demonstration of this

Poopypants 22nd July 2019 05:20 PM

Music theory may very well be a description after the fact, but that does not make ignorance the preferred course of action.

12tone 22nd July 2019 05:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newguy1 (Post 14109137)
The rest of the thread turned out to be a solid demonstration of this

What's of interest to one may not be to another. That goes with anything...

Comparatively though, in regards to this forum, infinitesimally less so than myriad other topics, such as trying to for once and for all answer the ultimate question, "Does analog gear really sound "better", or is it just a learned response?". Which will go back and forth between respondents ad infinitum as though they're traversing on a Möbius strip, or possibly in a Habitrail - take your pick. :facepalm:

newguy1 22nd July 2019 05:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Poopypants (Post 14109146)
Music theory may very well be a description after the fact, but that does not make ignorance the preferred course of action.

For sure. Personally I took several college courses on music theory, I'm not speaking to defend myself, I'm making an observation of how this music is actually written.

Putting your time into developing your feel-based composition intuition can be the preferred course of action when it comes to popular music like this.

The Beatles used their educational time not in school learning theory, but playing out 7 nights a week in Hamburg, without the ability to read a note. This turned out to be well-invested time, and they went on to be some of the most influential songwriters ever, that often have theorists playing Twister games to describe. Had they invested that time into learning music theory in an academic setting instead of learning how to entertain crowds of people through music, their output would have been considerably different.

Running a cost/benefit of what knowledge and methods of education are best for you, and putting your time into that, might make you ignorant in some areas, but closer to savant in others. Most of the popular music since the 60s was written by those who can't read music and don't know much theory. While they may be ignorant of notation and theory, they developed even greater intuitive abilities to feel out music that would be highly influential on crowds of people. Cost/benefit to every decision. You're only young with a developing brain that can quickly devour information once, where you put that time is important.

In any case, just making a side-point. By all means, discuss the theory :)

12tone 22nd July 2019 05:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by newguy1 (Post 14109208)
For sure. Personally I took several college courses on music theory, I'm not speaking to defend myself, I'm making an observation of how this music is actually written.

This song (at least the melody and harmony) was written by Don Felder as a demo in home. The lyrics were added by Henly and Frey afterwards.

Who knows what Felder was thinking? (that is, what his thought processes were in writing it)

This thread, at least I can tell, the responses have been germane to the OP.

newguy1 22nd July 2019 06:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 12tone (Post 14109227)
This thread, at least I can tell, the responses have been germane to the OP.

For sure, I've said its a side point. The theoretical analysis of music is definitely a valid topic, by all means carry on. Just a side note.

Poopypants 22nd July 2019 06:11 PM

The Beatles most certainly studied music theory, as evident in the changes in their songwriting as they learned new things. (Suddenly diminished chords everywhere... suddenly IV- everywhere, etc.) They did not learn in an academic setting, but it is obvious that they studied songs, song structure, and harmony in detail. There is nothing savant about that. There is nothing but deliberate hard work and the will to learn. If the OP wants to understand how harmony works, his skills will only benefit. There is no time wasted.

If you want to make an argument about the value of a formal music education in an institution vs learning on the bandstand and learning on your own, there are some valid pros and cons. Far as I know, this isn't Gearslutz University. (And you get what you pay for...) Curiosity should be rewarded. In particular, Hotel California is a curious song, as evident by the conversation above. Asking "why/how does this work?" is totally valid.

creegstor 23rd July 2019 12:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 12tone (Post 14109227)
This song (at least the melody and harmony) was written by Don Felder as a demo in home. The lyrics were added by Henly and Frey afterwards.

Who knows what Felder was thinking? (that is, what his thought processes were in writing it)

This thread, at least I can tell, the responses have been germane to the OP.

I'm pretty certain he was thinking this! gooof


RyanC 23rd July 2019 12:31 AM

To me, there is nothing inherently wrong with theory or understanding it, but it's crucial that this is never in lieu of playing by ear. Playing by ear AND theory is fine, spending time on theory that could/should be better spent on playing by ear can be a real issue.

And that is a genuine risk of that going down theory road. The last thing someone needs to be doing when writing is thinking that certain things aren't allowed. You have to go far down the rabbit hole here or there is a risk of not realizing how deep it is.

Also a general classical/choral approach to theory teaches many things like parallel 4ths and 5ths are *wrong* and so on, and another issue is that there is a distinct lack of pedagogical study of artists like Stevie Wonder. There really should be whole chapters just on his writing and their really aren't...

In the gospel world there are incredible players that don't know anything more than the names of the notes. It does genuinely lead to more of a vocabulary/slang thing, and quick aural skills and some different outcomes. For instance you will hear things like a half dim 7th built on the third instead of a V of the V or you hear a lot of IV with the root of the V in the bass instead of a V. It's a slightly different sound and it's cool to be able to break out sometimes.

creegstor 23rd July 2019 12:46 AM

Ultimately it comes down to intuition. High intuitive sense with no formal knowledge will always lead to better material than tons of formal knowledge with no intuition. (so clearly I am saying knowledge itself does not actually imbue a person with intuition) People who try to rely on using theory prescriptively as a default are nearly always barking up the wrong tree.

Some exceptions:

Using theory to fix/solve a specific problem in a given situation
Using theory to conceptualize an overarching approach or methodology
Using theory for arrangement/motif development

12tone 23rd July 2019 01:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RyanC (Post 14109990)
To me, there is nothing inherently wrong with theory or understanding it, but it's crucial that this is never in lieu of playing by ear. Playing by ear AND theory is fine, spending time on theory that could/should be better spent on playing by ear can be a real issue.

And that is a genuine risk of that going down theory road. The last thing someone needs to be doing when writing is thinking that certain things aren't allowed. You have to go far down the rabbit hole here or there is a risk of not realizing how deep it is.

I think pertaining to popular music, theory is not the end all (as opposed to classical music, to a lesser extent jazz). It's a mistake to overvalue its importance when so many have been successful being bereft of it.

That said, there have been notable artists of acclaim who've bemoaned the lack of knowledge of it, Jimi Hendrix and Deadmau5 being examples.

Also, theory in of itself is no replacement for talent or musical ability. Having been in academic circles, it's confounding people of immense training and scholarly aptitude couldn't play a blues to save their lives, or even be able to credibly play funk rhythms.

Two of the most talented and gifted musicians I've had the pleasure of being around were bassists who couldn't read music, and learned how to play their instruments by playing along with the radio.

12tone 23rd July 2019 01:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by creegstor (Post 14109981)
I'm pretty certain he was thinking this! gooof


Oh sh+t, where are the lawyers for Marvin Gaye's estate when you need them?

Being a Rahsaan Roland Kirk devotee, god I despise Ian Anderson...