In my textbook there is a natural sign in front of the subtonic chord.

Why is the VII chord in minor called "natural" 7 with a natural sign in front and the diminished chord built on the raised 7 just called vii°? Shouldn't the natural VII chord from natural minor be called bVII since it is built on a minor 7th interval up from the tonic?

This chord also comes up in major so if it has the same name it makes more sense. Also, if you are going to call VII the natural one because it occurs in the natural minor scale then surely vii° should be called #vii°?

  • Glad you brought up VII and vii° both occurring in the same Roman numeral analysis. ...However, now I have a niggling feeling that VI and vi° in minor also get treated in a similar way (e.g. not bVI, not #vi°).
    – Dekkadeci
    Aug 20, 2022 at 11:47
  • With that being said, what key was the passage with the ♮VII mention? I'm really starting to think it's a key where the leading tone has a sharp while the subtonic has a natural and therefore one of your questions is moot (e.g. A minor, E minor).
    – Dekkadeci
    Aug 20, 2022 at 11:52
  • cant we just use roman numerals in reference to the major scale then? so in minor vi° and vii° need no alterations as they occur on the same major 6th and major 7th intervals as in the major scale? Then if we use a subtonic chord we would have to call that bVII because it is a minor 7th above the tonic note. Of course bVI would refer to the triad built on the min 6th interval of the scale.
    – user35708
    Aug 20, 2022 at 12:03
  • It has nothing to do with any passage, subtonic chords in minor are named with a natural sign arent they?
    – user35708
    Aug 20, 2022 at 12:58
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Why the flat roman numerals in minor when they aren't needed?
    – Aaron
    Aug 20, 2022 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


It's just a convention (as is all notation.) In minor keys, Roman numerals are based on the lowered form of the two mutable steps (6 and 7). This (at least in modern notational practice) makes the conventions for Roman numerals identical in major and minor keys; the roman numerals refer to a chord root that agrees with the key signature.

In some Renaissance and Baroque minor-key pieces, the key signature was different from that of the relative major. Usually, a flat signature minor key had one fewer flat but sometimes a sharp signature had one fewer sharp. The practice wasn't consistent.

Often, in analysis, some shortcuts are made for common occurrences. Kosta and Payne often use the harmonic minor as a basis for Roman numeral roots.


In natural minor scale notes, note ^7 is a full tone below the root. It gets sharpened when the harmonic or rising melodic comes out to play. Thus it will be called VII, in its 'standard' form. Everything uses the basic major scale notes as the datum point, so it makes sense that ^7 in the relative natural minor is called VII, not ♭VII - which could be construed as G♭ in key Am.

When we do talk about the raised leading note rooted chord in the minor key, then that gets called ♯VII - G♯ in key Am.And since it's then diminshed, it's actually ♯VII°.

  • That's weird, I've never actually seen #vii° or #vii°7 before in textbooks or exercise books, ever.
    – Dekkadeci
    Aug 20, 2022 at 17:04
  • @Dekkadeci - how would you expect a triad based on the leading note of a minor key to be labelled?
    – Tim
    Aug 20, 2022 at 18:12
  • 1
    He means that it is usually just vii° and the #is not used
    – user35708
    Aug 20, 2022 at 19:01
  • @armani - I'm actually female, but you get the gist.
    – Dekkadeci
    Aug 20, 2022 at 19:21
  • Sorry, will try remember that :)
    – user35708
    Aug 21, 2022 at 15:25

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