I seem to have come across a III7 chord in A harmonic minor, and I'm not quite sure about its function.

I initially thought it might have been V7, but there is a leap of a third between the C and E in the bass (treble clef), suggesting they are both chord tones, and judging that the next chord cannot be chord i down to the melody notes in the top part (in bar ''2''), I have ruled out V 13. We also have a B and a G (sharp?) in the bass, all of which seem to belong to III7 in A harmonic minor.

If this is indeed III7, does the G sharp still have to resolve upwards to A in the next chord? In this case, the next chord seems like it could well be another III7 (or perhaps V7), and the chord following it (unpictured) seems to be V7. Do i just keep the G sharps until it resolves to A? Or perhaps its possible to use a major III chord with no G sharp?



enter image description here

  • 2
    I advise you don't add accidentals to preexisting notated music, especially during exams.
    – Dekkadeci
    Sep 1, 2020 at 11:39

2 Answers 2


You seem to have decided that the G must be a G# because the piece is in the key of A harmonic minor. However, there is no such key as "A harmonic minor."

Harmonic, melodic, and natural refer to scales, not keys. Nobody writing functional harmony in the common practice period stuck consistently to the notes of any one of those scales when writing a piece in a minor key. In fact, it was the demand of functional harmony (and of counterpoint before it) for chromatic alteration in the Dorian mode that led to the invention -- long after the fact -- of the three types of minor scale. This distinction of minor scales is a pedagogical device mostly useful for performance, where one must choose some set of notes when practicing playing scales. It is not particularly useful for theoretical analysis or for composition.

A diatonic III7 chord in A minor comprises C-E-G-B (Cmaj7), which would normally resolve to ♭VI (F major). That might be what's going on here, but I suspect it's something different. Your completion of the melody is almost certainly incorrect because it is in parallel octaves with the bass.

Given the lack of context in the image provided (and because I do not recognize this piece), it's not possible to say precisely where you went astray or why.

  • Interesting that you call it bVI, as since the key sig. is no #/b, that F would surely be just VI, wouldn't it?
    – Tim
    Aug 31, 2020 at 16:20
  • @Tim that's correct. I just find it useful to avoid ambiguity, since in the minor mode the sixth and seventh scale degrees aren't fixed. Besides, in the early days of tonal harmony, the minor key signatures often didn't show a flattened sixth (because of the minor mode's origins in the Dorian mode). I haven't had a formal theory class in maybe 35 years so I don't remember what I was taught on that score and I certainly don't know current practice.
    – phoog
    Aug 31, 2020 at 16:27
  • 1
    With scale steps I like to use things like b6 or #6 or b7 or #7 as there is no good symbol for "lowered" or "raised" (except for flat or sharp, etc.) By using Arabic numbers for scale steps and Roman numerals for the chords built on those steps, there's no ambiguity. Phoog's comments are correct.
    – ttw
    Aug 31, 2020 at 17:03
  • @ttw- not so sure, hence the comment. With the A MINOR key having a key sig. of no #/b, it would make the chord F in key Am VI. Call it bVI, and it's not far off the dominant - E. I know in minor, 6th and 7th get changed, but datum point must be the key sig.
    – Tim
    Aug 31, 2020 at 17:07
  • @Tim Roman numeral analysis is entirely anachronistic when applied for the music of Bach (I don't recognize this piece, but many of the other pieces EdB123 has been asking about are Bach's, or from the period). While a piece in A minor would be likely to have a key signature of no sharps or flats, a piece in G minor might have a key signature of one flat. Then again, in the anachronistic context, the G minor piece will most likely have a "corrected" key signature of two flats in a modern edition. So if you just identify the sixth scale degree in the latter case it's even more ambiguous.
    – phoog
    Aug 31, 2020 at 17:14

It’s not a g# so not an augmented chord. Think C major V-I-I6 and try something near-sequential in the following bar.

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