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Why is the V chord called Dominant?

What is so “dominating” about the V chord?  It’s just a major chord like I and IV and isn’t anything special.  My guitar book just says the term defines its importance.  So, what makes it so important?  Thanks

And what’s up with people using V in place of vii°?

1 Answer

  • 2 months ago

    I am a theory teacher (multiple Theory degrees, plus mus ed).  The V chord is called dominant because of its strong pull to resolve to the tonic. No other chord has this BALANCE of power.  Let's use C major. V chord in G B D.  The G resolves down by gravity - the B resolves up as an authentic leading tone.  The D of the triad can resolve up or down by step, in context.  Add the 7th - F - and you have 1 gravity, one authentic leading tone, and now one PLAGAL leading tone - resolved down by b half step. Strong like VOLTRON! The viio you refer to is the chord built on the 7th degree - and can be half diminished / B D F A  - or  the 7 the can be lowered to Ab.  One authentic LT, TWO PLAGAL LTs, D still with options in context. Just no GRAVITY resolution.  Different coloration if the resolution.  You did not ask about Subdominant - more gravity in play, and no authentic LT.  IV - I is called a PLAGAL cadence - Amen.

    Let me know when I can rock your world with atonal mediants . . .

    Source(s): Been teaching theory since 1973. Retired from school job - studio teaching only - except for right now . . . Like most of us.
    • Mamianka
      Lv 7
      2 months agoReport

      My now adult son is music departmeny chair in a huge school district. As s kid, he had all kinds of Voltron stuff. Gave it away! Now his wife and friends buy them back for him at insane prices . . . Voltron rules again in his world.

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