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( The song, the score I posted starts at 2:39 )

At the 4th measure, Bdim7 appears. It resolves to F/C. But I can't understand how this works.

Can someone explain what is going on ?

  • Should that G# be Ab?
    – Tim
    Sep 24, 2020 at 7:32
  • @Tim What do you mean ? Sep 24, 2020 at 12:27
  • Bdim7 is spelled B, D, F, Ab. Whoever wrote the dots put A#.
    – Tim
    Sep 24, 2020 at 16:17
  • @Tim Whoever wrote the dots put G#!
    – Richard
    Sep 25, 2020 at 10:06
  • 1
    @Richard - True - I'm breaking these glasses in for the dog. Hope he has more luck with them...
    – Tim
    Sep 25, 2020 at 14:49

4 Answers 4


I think it's important to introduce another interpretation, one that I see has been proposed by piiperi Reinstate Monica and Alexander Woo in the comments:

This is not a common-tone diminished seventh, but rather an enharmonically spelled viio7/V that leads to the dominant that appears in m. 61.

True, this dominant is embellished by first a cadential six-four and then two further measures of counterpoint (including a possible common-tone dominant seventh with the D7/C), but this is still a very clear dominant chord here (made especially clear by its hypermetrical accent).

When I teach the common-tone diminished seventh, I especially caution them against this very misreading: what looks like a common-tone diminished seventh resolving to an F chord is actually a much more common tonicization of the dominant.

  • " This is not a common-tone diminished seventh, but rather a viio7/V that leads to the dominant that appears in m. 61. " Do you mean m.64 ? the C7 chord ? Also, I couldn't understand "what looks like a common-tone diminished seventh resolving to an F chord is actually a much more common tonicization of the dominant." Can you explain it more easier ? I couldn't understand the "common tonicization of the dominant" part... Sep 29, 2020 at 5:41
  • @HyunYooPark m. 61 is F/C, also known as a "cadential six four." Although the "real" C7 doesn't appear until m. 64, the bass C of m. 61 really begins the dominant. And this viio7/V temporarily makes V (C) sound like tonic. So instead of viewing the bdm7 as a common-tone diminished seventh, I recommend viewing it as a viio7/V. Hopefully that helps, but let me know if not!
    – Richard
    Apr 6, 2021 at 2:26

The Bdim7 is better viewed as an Fdim7. In this light, it's a "common-tone" diminished seventh chord. Whereas a "tonicizing" diminished seventh "resolves" to the following chord, a common-tone diminished seventh shares a note in common with the following chord and serves a prolongational function. In my interpretation, the primary purpose of the diminished chord is to prolong the pitch F from the previous chord into the next, rather than serving a tonicizing function in relation to the C.

By placing the Fdim7 in second inversion, a chromatic ascending bass line is achieved.

For more on common-tone diminished sevenths, see Steven G. Laitz, 1008, The Complete Musician: An Integrated Approach to Tonal Theory, Analysis, and Listening, 2nd ed. (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press), pages 820-21.

  • 2
    I have to disagree on the "better viewed as". It could just as well be seen as a slightly different G7/B, expecting a C chord, but instead getting a "not so fast boy, you can wait for your dominant satisfaction a little longer" F/C chord. And you have to wait for the C7 several more bars. Dim7 chords are completely symmetric and there is always another possible perspective, you just couldn't see it yet. Sep 24, 2020 at 12:38
  • Thank you for your answer. It did helped me. I live in Korea and I don't know where I could get the book. Do you know anywhere I could get it ? Sep 24, 2020 at 12:39
  • 3
    No I think it's really a Bdim7 (despite the misspelling with an G-sharp). The reason is that F/C should be (as usual) analyzed as a C chord with 2 suspensions, and then the Bdim7 is the usual sharp-4 diminished 7th, or if you prefer the dominant II-7-flat9 without the root. Sep 25, 2020 at 2:56
  • @HyunYooPark I'm not sure what to recommend for finding the book in Korea, but it's probably overkill anyway. I think google searches will help you learn what you want. You can start with the Wikipedia page I linked to, and you also might find this page helpful. (I found it with a Google search....)
    – Aaron
    Sep 25, 2020 at 3:14
  • 3
    @Aaron - It's common to think of a cadential I-6-4 chord as a V chord with 2 suspensions, because that's what it is functionally. And, yes I do think of the entire C-pedal sequence as a long V chord with various alterations on top. Sep 25, 2020 at 3:36

Look at the notes rather than the chord names. And look at the whole line of music.

Bass line. A, B♭, B♮ - where COULD it go next but C? (Well, lots of places. But you see that C is a good place to go, maintaining the strong rising line?)

F is common to the two chords.

G♯, being a sharpened chromatic note, rises nicely to A. (That's why it's written as G♯ even if A♭ would have been more 'correct' for naming the chord as Bdim. But the notes are important, the label someone slaps onto the chord isn't.) See the same thing happening in the first 3 bars - C rising to C♯ rising to D?

And that's why it works. Strong musical lines within the chords. When the notes go somewhere good, the chords will follow.


In other posts the idea has come up of secondary functions actually fulfilling their role in the secondary tonic without necessarily making a dominant to tonic progression, and I think this passage is a good example. The local tonic shifts around on nearly each chord change, yet the functions are perfectly clear, even if it is a tricky matter of writing out the analysis.

  F/A     A7      Bb      Bo7     F/C
F:I6      V7      vi      viio7/V I6/4 (V 6/4 appoggiatura)
       progression in vi

  D7/C    Gm/C    C7      F
  V42/ii  ii      V7      I
    dominant pedal

So, in order...

  • A7 a dominant in the relative minor
  • Bo7 a dominant in the dominant
  • D7 a dominant in the supertonic
  • C7 a dominant in the tonic

Each dominant progresses to different types of chords and to the reading eye that obscures the function, but it should be clear to the ear there is a lot of dominant functioning. Everything should have a strong harmonic "pull" to the ear, that's the dominant function at work, and the step-wise bass helps hold it all together.

If it isn't clear, some theory regards the "cadential" I6/4 as actually a root position V chord where the sixth and fourth above the bass are non-chord tone appoggiaturas. This is a possible analysis of the F/C. The fact that the 6/4 appoggiatura does not resolve doesn't matter. It's considering the chord to be a kind of C chord that was approached by its dominant that matters. A Bo7 moving to some kind of C chord is one way to establish functions in C.

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