# Minor subdominant as dominant chord?

I notice that `IIø7` or `IV-` is often used instead of `II-7` or `IV` to create extra pull towards the tonic. For example: if you play `IIø7` in first inversion to `I` in second inversion, `IIø7` very much sounds like a dominant chord.

Could it be said to be a dominant chord in that case?

• So F-Ab-C-D to G-C-E if we're talking about C major? The thing is that every dominant-function chord I've heard about includes the leading tone, and iiø7 doesn't. Jul 14, 2021 at 11:58
• @Dekkadeci Yes. Does the first chord not sound like a dominant to you?
– Daan
Jul 14, 2021 at 12:07
• I use iiø7-iio7-I all the time in a sub for V7sus-V7-I. It's also a sub for bVII9, which is a tritone sub for V7. I would definitely say you can use it in a dominant function. Jul 15, 2021 at 1:42

This is ultimately the claim made by the concept of negative harmony. (See the tag for some other questions and answers about it.)

In short, negative harmony inverts chords around the tonic root/fifth axis. You're in C major, so we can invert chord tones around the C/G axis, which is the same as inverting around the E/E♭ axis. (Yet another way of thinking of it is to invert the pitch around C and transpose it up a perfect fifth.) And the dominant G–B–D–F inverts around this axis to create, respectively, C–A♭–F–D, which rearranged creates your iiø7 chord. And because this Dø7 is the negative harmony of G7, the theory conceptualizes it as a type of dominant.

It's also worth mentioning that this iiø7–I progression is ultimately a variation of the plagal IV–I. The A♭ is understood as mode mixture, and the D likely originated as a passing tone from C up to E.

Edit: I see that I misread the question a bit. In tonal music, a second-inversion tonic chord is ultimately an ornamented dominant. (The second-inversion tonic very often moves to a root-position dominant.) As such, this Dø7 is a pretty clear predominant that moves to dominant. However, the whole point of the predominant is that it moves to dominant, and in this sense, we can think of a predominant as a type of dominant to the dominant (just not in the standard "secondary dominant" way of, say, a D7 chord).

D,F,Ab,C have 3 tones in common with B,D,F,Ab which is considered as a rootless V7b9 chord. (The tone C would be the suspended 4th of G7 ...) Maybe that's what you perceive when playing Dm7b5 or Fm resolving to C.

Indeed Dm7b5 is often used as substitution of Dm7 in a IIm7-V7 and D7-G7 would be secondary dominant of G7. All melody lines leading from C to B can be harmonised with these 3 chords: D7 or Dm7 and Dm7b5.

No, it isn't a dominant chord. More of a subdominant. But there are plagal cadences as well as perfect cadences. If you want to say that the IV (or its variations) in a IV-I cadence has 'dominant function', as in 'a chord that isn't the tonic and leads well to it', fair enough. But that doesn't make it a dominant chord.

Not all progressions are strictly 'cycle of 5ths' functional. Consider a ♭VII - I progression. B♭ major - C major with C as 'home'. There's no useful functional analysis of that other than 'not tonic' and 'tonic. At a stretch, you could say the B♭ had a dominant function. But it isn't a dominant chord.

• I think one of the usual names I've heard for it is "minor plagal", for largely this reason. Jul 14, 2021 at 22:23
• Bb to C can be though of as plagal in the sense that it resolves by adding sharps, like F to C. This is especially true if the C chord has a 4-3 suspension, which makes Bb to C cadence look like Bb to F to C. On the other hand, Bb shares notes with G7, so it can act like a dominant. In the context of an Ab also having occurred at some point, Bb to C could be though of as a variant of a Bb to Eb cadence, namely one that resolves deceptively, and with a picardy third. I think ascribing harmonic functions to chords in variant cadences like this depends on the context and voice leading. Jul 14, 2021 at 23:43
• bVII7 is a common substitution for V7, so bVII - I is essentially V-I. Jul 15, 2021 at 1:44
• You guys REALLY want everything to be 'cycle of 5ths' don't you! Jul 15, 2021 at 15:08

The half diminished chord on ii, key C, utilises D, F, A♭ and C. The same notes as iv6 - Fm6. F, A♭, C and D (both in root position). So here, a subdominant chord. Which does sound quite dominant, mainly as to get to C major, the C doesn't move, the A♭ moves a semitone to G, and the F moves a semitone to E. The semitone moves from dominant to tonic are the reasons the 'pull' is there, too. Similarly, tts has the same effect.