In the key of C Major what is the Roman numeral for a B ♭/D ♭/F chord that goes to a flat VI?

  • 1
    You most likely aren't in C major anymore if you are going from Bb minor to Ab major.
    – Dom
    Sep 4, 2016 at 2:46
  • I don't see why the answers assume that the B flat chord in the question is minor.
    – Dekkadeci
    Sep 28, 2017 at 14:24
  • @Dekkadeci Because the combination of these three notes is a minor triad. Has the question been altered since your comment? Or possibly your browser isn’t showing the flat signs that the OP put after the B and the D? Apr 14, 2018 at 16:57

4 Answers 4


Like in any Roman Numeral analysis, minor chords are represented by lower case letters and major chords are represented by upper case letters. In addition if the root is a lowered scale degree you put a flat in front of the scale degree and if the root is a raised scale degree you put a sharp in front of the scale degree.

So making a name for any major/minor chord with Roman Numerals is easy. If you were 100% sure the key is C Major you would have bvii and bVI as seen below.

V:2 clef=treble
"bvii"[_B _d f] "bVI"[_A c _e]|| 

The thing you need to be aware of is the Roman Numeral analysis is a tool that has its uses and its limits . As you get away from functional harmony concepts and ignore other harmonic concepts like secondary dominants and modulation the results aren't as useful as they could be. Even when it makes sense to use chords outside the key in the case of borrowing, too much can signify you need to look at the progression in a different light.

In your case if you were in the key of C, I doubt the you would still be in the key of C seeing the progression Bbm, Ab and if you have an Db next I would argue that you are in the key of Db major instead.

  • 1
    Possible borrowings from the Phrygian mode, Dom.
    – user16935
    Sep 4, 2016 at 3:36
  • Could be @Patrx2, but without seeing the source I wouldn't assume especially since borrowing vii from Phrygian isn't the most common move. A lot of people like to use Roman Numeral analysis to "hide" functional rather than expose it. I can't tell you how many II7 I've seen instead of V7/V.
    – Dom
    Sep 4, 2016 at 3:45
  • Borrowing from (or shifting to parallel) Phrygian isn't the most common thing, true enough, but when it happens, ♭vii is probably the most common manifestation of it: ♭vii6 pretty much defines the mode.
    – user16935
    Sep 4, 2016 at 5:43
  • More likely to be key of Ab than Eb? And - whatever key it's modulated into will become the 'I', but how does that get notated?
    – Tim
    Sep 4, 2016 at 7:20

I agree that it sounds like a modulation. Determine the new key and analyze in terms of the new key and put brackets around all chords relating to the new key. If the new key is Db Maj, then Bb is probably minor and it is vi of Db, the new I, and so on.


It's bvii, bVI. It COULD be the beginning of a modulation, maybe to Db major (or several other places). But it doesn't have to be a modulation. If the next chord is V, or a climb back up to I, it could just be a touch of colour in C major.


My Understanding of the 'Roman Numeral Notation' depends on the Scale Degree. In the Major Scale of 'C', the 1, 4, 5, Are Capitalized. The 2,3 6, are lower case. The 7th, is also lower case, as presented... I ii, iii,IV,V,vi,vii. in the key of 'C' Major,'d' minor, 'e' minor, F Major, G Major, 'a, minor, 'b, diminished.

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