Tip #107 – Dominant Chords Resolving Onto Themselves

I noticed this interesting chord progression idea in some heavy metal riffs.

Usually, a V chord resolves to I – that is something we know happens commonly in music.

However, for today’s tip, we will talk about how the dominant chord can resolve to a minor chord version of itself, containing the same root.

Observe the progression below:

Notice how we set up for a cadence in F# minor with the C#7 chord. However, it resolves to a F#7 chord. We think that we have possibly modulated to B Major/minor, or started a circle of fifths progression – but no! Instead, the F#7 chord resolves to a F# minor triad.

With good voice leading, this can work very smoothly. Most of the chord notes are kept the same – only difference being the change from the major third to a minor third, which is just a half-step.

This creates a “deceptive” resolution (and I use this term loosely because there is already a term for a “deceptive cadence”) while smoothly creating momentum back to the minor tonic area**.

**Note, this progression only works if the tonic is in minor.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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