How would you analyze the sequence |: Fm E♭ D Gm :|

I hear Gm as the tonic, but that might be just because of the previous D as dominant. Fm and E♭ seem to be in the key of Fm (maybe a dorian flavor). Is it the case that the single appearance of the dominant introduces a modulation from Fm to Gm?

  • 2
    It's kind of dependent on other factors as well, rhythm, melody, etc., but maybe consider this as G minor with a bit of subdominant or Phrygian influence. F minor is the only harmony that doesn't fit directly in G minor.
    – user16935
    Jan 12, 2017 at 4:06
  • Do you mean that you want to label the chords with Roman numerals for analysis? Jan 12, 2017 at 21:49
  • @MichaelCurtis That's right, identifying secondary dominants, borrowed chords and so on.
    – Rick
    Jan 13, 2017 at 2:03

3 Answers 3


It's just in G minor with the F minor being borrowed most likely from another mode as Patrx2 says. Most people would just call it a vii VI V i in G minor an be done with it as you're just altering the 3rd of the subtoinc chord and that's all that is different.

If you really wanted to be fancy, you could argue that the Fm is a secondary chord of the E♭ making the progression a ii/VI VI V i in G minor, but since the secondary doesn't have a very functional purpose this doesn't really make much of a difference in the analysis.


Just using the details given, and assuming the keys are Fm and Gm, I think you would write an analysis something like this:

f: i VII g: V i

But, as @Dom points out, you should only use the key labels if a key is clearly established. Perhaps something more like this:

f: ii V7 i g: VI V i

But this isn't your case. Given the repeat signs it looks like the four chords repeat over and over, and it's not a case of modulation.

When it's appropriate you can indicate key changes with the key name and a colon. The roman numerals are then understood to be in the context of the labeled key.

  • That analysis is not correct. There is nothing that makes you modulate from one key to another in those 4 chords so saying that it is in two different keys is not accurate at all. The examples you use show complete modulation.
    – Dom
    Jan 14, 2017 at 16:46
  • That isn't my analysis. I'm only showing the symbols used write out such an analysis, because that is what the OP asked about. I only used the keys they were suggesting. Jan 16, 2017 at 15:38
  • It still wouldn't be in two keys which is the issue I have. Saying there are multiple keys in the analysis needs to be backed up.
    – Dom
    Jan 16, 2017 at 15:39
  • I modified my answer to show the OP's original suggestion, but it isn't the best analysis. Jan 17, 2017 at 21:46

I'd analyse it just as you already have, by noting the chord names. From the information you have given we can't do much more, and can only guess at a tonal centre. (Let's not say "at a key", because that could lead to a fruitless discussion whether bVII is an acceptable chord.) D, Gm does indeed hint at a dominant - tonic function (D7 would have made it even stronger). But not every dominant - tonic pair has to lead to THE tonic.

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