[Smt-talk] Subdominant

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Tue May 15 19:19:07 PDT 2012

Dear Colleagues,

Although I opened a big polemic on the topic "Subdominant versus Predominant" nearly  three months ago, and this topic has now been resumed, I cannot fight the fact that some North American theorists have decided to call the subdominant a "predominant". If this is what they feel, no one can convince them that it is wrong, and my appeal to relate harmonic functions to the tonal center rather to the dominant function, are in vain.

But I have a question. While the term "predominant" has been invented by American followers of Schenker, it has not been popular in Europe. Why, then, some  European theorists started repeating it, as if they have grown up with it in the United States? It is like calling a Department store or a supermarket a "Mall" only because they call it so in the United States. Believe me, in this regard I criticize my Bulgarian countrymen, because they really started calling their supermarkets "Malls"! I am ashamed of this parrot-like adoption of foreign terms in Bulgaria, but I think that is an inferiority complex of the weak, who always have the need to be under someone's umbrella - whether it be the Soviet Union, or The United States. 

Well, if I, as a Bulgarian, have the decency to criticize the mentality of a large group of my countrymen, why should I abstain from criticizing other European citizens for nodding and reiterating concepts and terminology that does not stem from a solid tradition on their soil?

To eliminate further confusion, and to rehabilitate Bulgarian teachers of harmony, I will add that, if they call the supermarket a "Mall", they still keep calling the old subdominant with its genuine name. The cadential six-four, which is literally depended on the dominant, and announces its arrival in an unprecedented manner, is the real bearer of the term "pre-dominant".

Thank you,


Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
School of Music
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666

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