[Smt-talk] Queen Technique

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Thu Apr 11 17:53:10 PDT 2013

Dear List,

I can only discuss the functional analysis of what Mr. Braae copied in his first letter. The progression is copied below.

Upper Voice:   C C  C C 
Middle Voice: E F Gb G
Lower Voice: C D Eb E, resolving (probably) to F major.

This is a prominent harmonic cliché which I always teach in theory III: 

I – IIm7 – II7 alt. [the correct spelling being D#-F#-(A)-C] – I6.  Jazz people like to refer to the altered SII7 with the label #ii dim.7. This is also an example of the application of the so-called “common tone diminished seventh chord”.

Functionally, this progression may be interpreted as T–S–T, the subdominant function consisting of a diatonic and altered supertonic chords. At a deeper level, we may explain that as an expanded or prolonged tonic, where the common tone C serves like a glue within the stepwise progression. 

More often than not, IIm7 is replaced by V4/3, and thus the progression becomes I–V4/3–II7alt. - I6.  The T–D–S alt.–T only looks illogical, but the universality of the diminished seventh chord, which is also a dominant of V and of iii, allows it to connect naturally to a number of chords.

Of course, the common tone diminished seventh chord also exist in minor (not a word about this in the conventional books – their authors obviously assume it only exists in major), where it is built on the raised fourth degree, and when resolved into i, i6, and i6/4 it is an altered subdominant (iv with a raised root and third, or #iv dim.7) – not a secondary dominant because it does not tonicize any secondary triad and its resolution into the tonic is not deceptive.

When i6/4 is not passing but cadential, the altered chord still resolves into a tonic structure (if not a function), so its behavior and tendency of tones are the same as when it resolves into the tonic itself. However, an alternative vii dim.7 of V may be used by those who wish, since the bass tone of the cadential six-four is dominant by function.

Thank you,


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

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