I have a 7th chord: A-C#-E-G , in the key of F# minor and would like to symbolize it using the Functional Chord symbol: ( I 7 / III ). Would it be correct to identify it this way ? Using the root quality chord symbol I have simply named it A7 . So can Functional Chord symbols include I7/III or the triad I / III ?

  • 2
    Where does this chord move? If it goes to D, it's a V7/VI. Jun 18, 2020 at 19:18
  • This stand-alone question was loosely found in a Harmony Text."Identify this applied chord." Staff states F#minor ; notes from base up are C#, A, E , G natural. I answered as ( I 65/ III ). Would Richard agree? { 6 in numerator and 5 in denominator ; a first inversion 7th chord} A7/C# as my root/quality symbol.Using inversion of III7 would change the given G natural to a different G# ( since the key signature has 3 sharps )
    – Thomas
    Jun 19, 2020 at 1:42

4 Answers 4


Based on a follow-up comment to the original question, the intended answer is almost certainly V65/VI. The textbook asked to identify the applied chord, and at this point, the only applied chords will be a V(7)/x or viio(7)/x. Later in your studies you may encounter IV/x, or even what we call extended tonicizations, which I discuss here.

As such, this A7 chord (with C♯ in the bass), which is dominant of D, would be V65/VI, because D is VI in the key of F♯ minor. (Similarly, it would be V65/IV in A major).

I would advise against writing iii7, which would suggest a G♯ as opposed to a G♮ in the chord.

  • Sir Richard : Could an applied chord ever have a "I" in the numerator as in "I65/III" or is your answer "V65/VI" the one and only acceptable answer to my question, in the key of F# minor, ( with a denominator between I and VII ) ? Thank you !
    – Thomas
    Jun 19, 2020 at 5:12
  • Even if it doesn't go to D (VI), it would still be called V?VI, wouldn't it - as it's supposedly a secondary dominant, and they don't always need to move to the chord they apparently aim at. Is that true?
    – Tim
    Jun 19, 2020 at 8:56
  • 1
    @Thomas Having I in the numerator is exceedingly rare, and in my experience is only used in extended tonicizations (mentioned in the link in my answer). If it's I of x, then instead of writing 1/*x*, just write x. It would be a bit like specifying you have 10/1 of something, instead of just saying 10. Jun 19, 2020 at 12:40
  • 1
    @Tim For a textbook exercise specifically asking to identify an applied chord, I would say it has to be a V/VI. But in a real-world scenario, if it doesn't go to VI, it may not be functioning as V/VI. Jun 19, 2020 at 12:41

It's not needed. III7 is sufficient. Normally, applied chords are V/ or vii0/ or maybe IV/ or a pair like ii-V/. The point is that one is locally adding a V chord to tonicize another chord. Common (in a major) is V7/V7 (D7 in C). In minor, V7/V does occur but more common is V7/III (Bb7 in C major). Unless acting as a temporary dominant (or maybe subdominant), there no need for the / notation. I should point out that the sequence (in C) of C7-F is often written V7/IV. It was common in 1930s popular music: C7-Fm-D7-G7 was a common turnaround and analyzed as V7/iv-iv-V7/V-V7.

  • wrt the common turnaround analyzed in your last sentence : in key of C = I , then F=IV is normal but iv=Fm is not normal in the key of C ( in my mind , at this time ). So how can we rationalize the use of iv = Fm in the key of C ? Any more idea ?
    – Thomas
    Jun 19, 2020 at 5:40
  • 1
    It's just a common "color" chromaticism. That pattern is sometimes called the "Montgomery Ward" turnaround. It also puts a chromatic run of G-Ab-A (notes, not chords) inside the C-Fm-D7 chord sequence. The minor subdominant seems to go back a long way.
    – ttw
    Jun 19, 2020 at 6:33

In key F♯m III is A major. III7 (A C♯ E G ) will generally lead to VI. So it would be called (in key F♯m) III7. There's no need to call it V7 anything else, so it'll be III7.

  • In the key of F#m the note G is sharp. I was given a G natural in my question which asked to identify the applied chord. The four notes given from the bass up are : C# , A , E , G natural.
    – Thomas
    Jun 19, 2020 at 1:48

The answer to this textbook exercise is most likely V65/VI ; and a I/III formula for an applied chord is very rare. Thanks to all !

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