Tip #207 – Two Ways of Resolving Secondary Dominants

Seems a bit silly that we have gone this bar in the blog without mentioning secondary dominants as much as they should be. Nonetheless, they are common in music composition and deserved to be discussed.

A secondary dominant is the V7 of a chord besides I (usually the V7 / V ). The progression would be:

V7/V – V7 – I

And that is one way to resolve it. Simply use it like the nature of the V7 chord and resolve to the chord a P5 below it.

Another way, that is common in jazz, is to have it resolve to the minor version of itself. That progression would be:

V7/V – ii – V7 – I

Both the V7/V and ii have the same function of being the “predominant area” so it makes sense that they can lead into one another.

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.

Tip #206 – Understanding the Harikhamboji Scale

The Carnatic music of South India has 72 scales (melakartas) comprised of seven different notes in either an ascending (arohana) or descending (avarohana) fashion. These scales are used in a kind of India music called rāga and are extremely beautiful. In addition these scales are grouped into different chakras, based on certain similarities.

Today’s melakarta is the Harikhamboji scale (very roughly translating to “removing evil”), the fourth scale from the fifth chakra.

Below is a representation of the scale as if it was put into Western notation:

It is really a Mixolydian scale.

Try playing around with the scale, possible harmonies, and progressions!

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.

Tip #205 – Progress by Voicing

In music theory, we are taught a certain way that chords progress by – following one by another based on their Roman numeral analysis. Such as:

  • V7 goes to I
  • Progression follow the Circle Of Fifths, I-IV-viio-iii-vi-ii-V-I
  • IVmaj7 can act as a predominant area or a Plagal cadence figure.
  • Etc.

Instead of thinking about chords by their Roman numerals, think about their voicings (in relation to the key or outside of it).

For example a dominant-seventh chord. You would think of that as the fifth scale degree to resolve to the root. So, G7 to C.

But, the function of the domain-seventh chord doesn’t always have to be the V7. It can be the:

  • Tritone Substitute, bII7 – I , G7 to F#
  • Dorian Vamp, V7 – ii , G7 to Dmin
  • Bluesy Vamp, IV7 – I, G7 to D
  • I7 chord in a 12-Bar Blues, I7 – V7 – IV7 – I7 , G7 to D7 to C7 to G7
  • Etc.

And now look! You have more possibilities than you can ever think of because you valued the chord voicing more than the Roman numerals in regard to the key.

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.

Thinking Out Loud – Appropriation of Rearranging

When it comes to versions of songs, there are two options: the original and the cover/rearrangement of it.

Some people prefer the originals, while others find how a different artist or arranger reworked the song into new.

In classical music, you sometimes see other prolific composers rework other’s pieces. As for jazz, it is very common – in fact, a standard – to play covers from the fake book. And rock music has many people doing covers of each other’s tunes.

But, one thing that strikes me odd is when I see a rearrangement of a spiritual in a classical context.

On the outside, it may seem like nothing is wrong… but I want to bring to the table to idea of cultural appropriation.

With spirituals coming from an African American background (especially during the times of slavery and segregation), the music has a weight of history behind it. Reworking the spiritual into a piece that sounds like music from the classical era is – what I consider to be – an act of white washing. To take a piece of history and rearrange it to sound like Western music is like taking cultural identity away.

So does that mean that different races cannot cover each other’s tunes? I’m not suggesting that, but I am saying to consider the history behind a piece of music before deciding to rearrange it into a different style or for a different purpose.

Just thinking out loud..

Tip #204 – Bluesy Vamp

Another vamp chord progression you can use is this:

I – IV7

Some of you might be thinking “but the IV chord isn’t usually a dominant-seventh chord… nor does it resolve to the I.”

Remember this from previous posts: in the twelve-bar blues progression the IV chord resolves more naturally to the I than the V does. Plus, the IV chord harmony appears more frequently than the V chord.

In addition, the IV7 chord provides the b3 scale degree. b3, which is in the blues scale.

Play around with it and see how it works!

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.

Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #40

If we are making an analogy that a song’s lyrics is like a story’s framework – it should have a start, a middle, and an end. The start is the first line that will grab the attention of the listeners. As for the middle, that is reserved for the body of the song and how the plot will develop.

The end is the conclusion or basically what the listener will take away from the song at the end. Generally, you should have the conclusion in mind before starting the beginning, but it is always good to come back to it in the revision process to make sure you have hit the mark on how you wanted you end to be.

Conclusions are meant to wrap-up the song and state the meaning as well as the purpose of the song. You can either:

  • Explicitly state the meaning
  • Imply the meaning
  • Leaving the meaning up to interpretation

To explicitly do so, you simply say in your lyrics what you want to say. Implying means that while it is say said directly, a listener can get clues from the story on what you are trying to say. Other times with a song title a lyrics that don’t match, you create ambiguity that leaves the audience to interpret and analyze what you are trying to say.

Listen to a variety of your favorite song and see where do they fall under in each category.

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.

Teach Yourself Music Theory – 30.) Inverting Triads

Previously, we have talked about triads. To remind ourselves:

A triad is a chord built on three different pitches where each of the pitches from lowest to highest are a musical interval of a third apart.

On any staff, a triad can be written with all the pitches being on a line, or all being on a space.

Now, we are going to talk about inversions, which is similar to when we invert a harmonic interval – we take the lowest pitch and raise it up an octave so that a different chord member becomes the lowest pitch.

NOTE: the new lowest pitch does not become the root.

Likewise, you can invert in a reverse process where you take the highest note in the triad and lower it down an octave.


When the third is in the bass (lowest position), we say that the triad is in first inversion. As for when the fifty is in the bass, we say that the triad is in second inversion. We will take soon on how to indicate with other forms of notation about writing inversions.

Try writing a variety of triads in their possible inversions. Play them, too!

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.