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Dominant-Tonic Progression

Anatomy of the Dominant
and
Basic Voice Leading

Overview of V& -I
 7th of

V& is 4, resolves to 3

 5th of

V& is 2, resolves to 1

 3rd of

V& is 7, resolves to 8 [1]

 Root of

V& is 5, remains at 5

What Makes a Dominant a Dominant

The strength of the dominant seventh comes from:
The Principle of Closest Approach

The Instability of Scale Degrees
The Dissonance of the Intervals

The Principle of Closest Approach
Since the Middle Ages, the favourite way to approach
perfect intervals is by contrary motion from the closest
imperfect consonance:
Unison from minor third

Fifth from major third or minor sixth
Octave from major sixth or minor tenth

This gives us Fux’s cadence formula (2 -1 and 7 –1)

V& -I Has This
 5th of

V& is 2, resolves to 1

 3rd of

V& is 7, resolves to 8 [1]

 3rd of

V& is 7, resolves to 8 [1]

 Root of

V& is 5, remains at 5

This is a minor third resolving to unison.

This is a minor sixth resolving to a fifth.

The Instability of Scale Degrees

The most unstable tones are 4 and 7

4 wants to go down to 3.
7 wants to go up to 1.
These are the only two semitones in the major scale.

The Instability of Scale Degrees
The next most unstable tone is 2, which wants to go to 1 (or
perhaps 3).
Combined with the 7 going up to 1, this is the same as
Fux’s cadence.

V& -I has all of these.

The Dissonace of Intervals
Dissonant intervals resolve in the direction of inflection
Minor and Diminished inward, Major and Augmented Outward

There is a diminished fifth between the third and seventh

of V&
This fifth resolves inward to the major third, which is the
same as the semitones of the scale.

In Minor Keys
In major keys, all the above collaborate to make V& –I
strong.
In minor keys, v&–i has none of them.

We add most of them back when we raise the leading
tone to make the harmonic minor.
In minor, the dominant chord is almost always changed
to major when it resolves to tonic.

Types of Voice-Leading
There are four standard ways to go from Dominant to
Tonic:
Common Tone (Universal Rule of Voice-Leading)

Semi-parallel motion
Triple-Root
Tertian Leap

Universal Rule of Voice-Leading
Paradigmatic motions: Motion by 5th, 3rd, and 2nd
Rule: Keep all common tones, move all other tones to
nearest chord tone in contrary motion to the motion of
the Paradigmatic bass.
(If the motion is by 4th, 6th, or 7th, we move in the opposite
direction because they are not the paradigm motions).

Universal Rule of Voice-Leading

Universal Rule of Voice-Leading
Problems:
1. If followed repeatedly (this is a very common motion), the
whole range spirals downward ad infinitum.

2. The 2 resolves up to 3, instead of down to 1 (this is usually
only a problem at a cadence).
All the other motion types fix this, and then try to deal with
the consequences

Semi-Parallel Motion
For motion by fourth or fifth (and ONLY by fourth or fifth),
we can move all voices to the nearest possible chord
tone in the same direction as the paradigmatic bass
motion.
For V& -I, this means that all upper voices move down.
does go to 1, but now, 7 doesn’t.

2

Semi-Parallel Motion
Problems:
1.Cannot be used if 7 is in soprano, because leading
tones must resolve upward if in an outer voice.
2.Can potentially cause hidden octaves between outer
voices
(Okay because soprano moves by step, but not ideal).

Semi-Parallel Motion

Triple-Root
Both 2 and 7 resolve to 1; Bass motion also goes to the
tonic, leaving three voices on the root of the tonic chord.
For a triad, the 5 skips down to 3, or passes through 4 as a
passing tone (which makes the triad into a seventh
chord).
Is equivalent to semi-parallel motion, except leading tone
resolves.

Triple Root

Triple Root

For a seventh chord, the 7th is already on 4, and steps
down.

The resulting tonic chord is incomplete, as it does not
have a fifth.

Tertian Leap

 Allows 2 to resolve down and 5 to stay put.
 In this case, the 3rd of the dominant chord (7) is allowed to skip directly to the 3rd of the
tonic. (ONLY allowed for 3rds, NEVER roots or 5ths).
 Can only happen in a n inner voice (usually tenor).

Tertian Leap

Dealing with Sevenths

The 7th must always resolve down to 3.
Try to avoid doubling a 3rd, so no other tone should

resolve there (2 should resolve down, and no tertian leap).
Triple-Root is the best choice.