1

In this song from Family Guy, a barbershop quartet is singing a song in C major, and they end a phrase on a V7/vi (E7) chord, and proceed to drag that chord out for about one minute (until 1:52), at which point they restart the harmony with a tonal chord.

This has been bugging me for a while, and I've been wondering what that particular chord can resolve to that would make sense for the song if it hadn't been dragged out like that. So far I think it would be a IV (F) chord, but I'd like to know if there's anything else that it could be.

  • It's a secondary dominant chord so you use the chord of what you are tonizing which in this case is A minor. – Dom Jul 16 '16 at 1:25
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The resolution to vi (E7 => Am in the key of C) is the most obvious one. It represents a tonicization of the relative minor key (A minor in the key of C). A very common alternative would be the resolution to IV, as pointed out by you and in ttw's answer. This is a deceptive cadence, where a dominant seventh chord does not resolve to its related tonic chord, but to the superdominant. In this case the deceptive resolution must be interpreted in the key of A minor (E7 => F). A deceptive cadence in C major would be G7 => Am.

I do not doubt that other possibilities may exist, but these two are by far the most common resolutions.

  • The reason I think a deceptive cadence would work better than a perfect one is because of the song's tendency to avoid minor chords whenever possible — In every place where a ii (Dm) chord might go, a V/V (D) is used instead, and even the few chords that are based on an A (like the "pro" in "procedure" at 0:17 or so) have the C raised to a C#, so it's a V/ii or even V/V/V (A) rather than a vi (Am) outright. – Joe Z. Jul 16 '16 at 12:11
  • A funnier progression would be VII(b3)(b7) second inversion (f, a flat, b, d flat) which could be interpreted as an inversion of German diminished (extra credit: resolving to iv second inversion instead of I!) or as the tritone substitute of V (in which case I should call the chord bII first inversion). – 11684 Jul 17 '16 at 0:44
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V7 of vi resolves nicely to vi or vi7 or VI or VI7 or your suggestion of iv or IV.

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