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How do you name what F#7 is to G in C major? I was thinking it may be V/iii/V but that seems complicated and inefficient.

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  • In key C, iii is Em. Therefore V/iii will be B/B7. Making your sequence B7>Em>G. A cadence ending on V will be imperfect (on this side of the pond) in any case; it's the only cadence that does. The penultimate chord won't have much, if any, bearing on its name. You can edit the title to be apposite, in any case, rather than use a comment.
    – Tim
    Feb 26 at 17:02
  • What I mean is that how B7 is to C, F#7 is to G, how would you name this in roman numerals? like if i play a progression, C-F-F#7-G7 what would you call the F#7 in roman numerals? It seems that it is the VII7 of V, but I rarely see VII7, in favor of V7/iii, so VII7/V doesn’t seem “right” to me (i know that it is subjective, but I was wondering if there was a different way to put it.)
    – alistato
    Feb 26 at 18:06
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    You need to clear up your question. V/iii in C major is a B7 chord not F#7. Don't try to clear up the confusion in comments. Fix the main question. Feb 26 at 18:12
  • @MichaelCurtis I am aware, this is what i am trying to find out. what i am asking is what is F#7 to G (besides VII7 unless that is the only option possible) and how do you name it in roman numerals?
    – alistato
    Feb 26 at 18:15
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    How did you discover in the first place, that it's F#7 to G? What are the exact notes in the F#7 chord, in which order? (If this is piano, it's necessary to include both hands in your answer.) What do I call F#7 to G, in C major? I call it "Probably A Mistake". :) I might also call it "Maybe This Ought To Be F# Diminished 7th"... possible?
    – David R
    Feb 27 at 2:37

4 Answers 4

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The sample progression...

C F F#7 G G7 C

The problem is, if you use Roman numerals to show F#7 as a secondary dominant, you write it with a slash, and the first part would be the dominant V7/?, and then the question mark would be replaced with the implied tonic. However, in that case the tonic would be either a Bm or B major triad. Neither of those chords is diatonic to C major and so we get into something you might call a "tertiary" dominant. But that is not a standard term in harmonic analysis.

You could write it with secondary slashes as you suggest and work it out like this...

   F#   Bm     G
 C:V /  iii /  V
   V of iii of V

But, that is complicated. It might be better to show a key change.

I suppose V/iii/V with a key change label would literally be...

   C  F     F#7    G     G7 C
C: I IV   G:V7/iii I   C:V7 I

But, if you want to follow a common deceptive resolution that moves to a submediant chord, it would be...

   C  F      F#7 G     G7 C
C: I IV   Bm:V7  VI  C:V7 I

I am away from a piano at the moment so I can't hear the progression and whether there is a true sense of a deceptive progression.

Another possible analysis is to treat the F#7 as a non-functional passing chord. Between the F chord and the G chord a F# triad just connects the two with all voices ascending by half step. The 7 of F#7 could then be a descent of F E D which is a smooth line reinforcing the passing motion idea. You could then analyze it as...

   C  F F#7  G G7 C
C: I IV p.c. V V7 I

p.c. would be an abbreviation for passing chord.

As a general rule, simpler is better in harmonic analysis, so I sort of lean toward the last analysis. The former requires two things simultaneously, a secondary relationship and a key change, and there isn't much going on to establish an implied key. A passing chord may be the simplest analysis and more truly descriptive of the harmonic effect.

Does the music sound more like a chromatic "slide" between F and G chords than a functional dominant resolving deceptively? If yes, then consider it a non-functional dominant and analyze it as such. To some degree the rhythm handling of the progression can make a difference. If F#7 is rhythmically unaccented, it probably lends itself to feeling like passing motion.

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Within the confines of standard functional, Tonal harmony, F#7 to G doesn't have any particular designation. So what is really being discussed here is using Roman numerals as a substitute for fixed chord symbols — essentially the Nashville system, but with Roman numerals instead of arabic ones.

In the Nashville system, the chord would just be #47. Translating that directly would give simply #IV7.

But since there's an additional desire to show the relationship to the following chord, the label becomes VII7/V, meaning "a dominant seventh chord built on the seventh degree of G major". This is sufficient to express the chord clearly, as the "normal" seven chord would be viio (i.e., the upper-case Roman VII versus the lower-case Roman vii).

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In the sample progression

C F F#7 G G7 C

C: I IV #IV7 V V7 I

The centre of progression is this #IV V7 I which is case of "double leading-tone" (as found in some classical works) : it adds a 2nd leading-tone to the G chord: to its root (F#G), and to its fifth (A#B).

If the F#7 was preceded by a C#m7 then you could also see it as deceptive cadence.

The cadence #iv7 VII7 I can be read as iim7/iii V7/iii I, which is deceptive as one expects a iii after the V7/iii. This cadence is a fairly effective cadence as it contains those 2 above-mentioned leading-tones.

C C#m7 F#7 G G7 C

C: I V V7 I

G: ii7/iii V7/iii I

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It has become clear through the comments that the music is your own composition, and the chords sound exactly as you intend them to sound. And it was already clear through other answers that this is not a standard well-known construction -- it's something that only belongs to this one piece of music, or it's part of your style but not part of everybody's style.

In a case like that, I'd say: Most of all, notate it in a clear and obvious way, so people won't get it wrong all the time. And try to see how these two chords fit into the way this piece goes, so that in the end your analysis helps demonstrate the logic of this piece, rather than just giving names to the chords. Hopefully, either they are part of some pattern (and should be explained according to that pattern), or they intentionally break a pattern (ditto), or the F#7 chord is a non-functional interesting chord that's interrupting a more ordinary pattern.

I just used the word "pattern" a lot. When stuck trying to analyze any music, "Look for patterns" is almost always a good place to start.

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