This is probably a stupid question but I've been trying to resolve it for a while now and due to low knowledge of music theory, I can't. I don't really know what key I'm in.

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    Is this homework? In the key of E major, F♯m is the ii chord with a predominant function, D♯dim is the vii° chord with a dominant function. (It is the upper 3 notes of a B7 chord, which is the V7.) So... in E major you would resolve to...?
    – trw
    Feb 6, 2019 at 13:49
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    another way to solve this problem is to try out chords until you find something that sounds good...*THEN* try to figure out what is going on.
    – b3ko
    Feb 6, 2019 at 14:18
  • There aren‘t any stupid questions, never! Feb 6, 2019 at 22:13

2 Answers 2


One way to do this is list out all the tones of the chords and then find a key signature they all belong to: D# F# A C#.

So follow the circle of fifths for sharp keys until you get a match...

1#: G/Em  - F#
2#: D/Bm  - F# C#
3#: A/F#m - F# C# G#
4#: E/C#m - F# C# G# D#

You should see that your set of notes matches E or C#m.

That's the 'mechanical' part of the issue, but now we get to the actual important part: there isn't a single answer to this question. Or, you might say it isn't answerable.

In E we could continue the harmony as ii viio6 I or ii viio6 V7.

In C#m we could continue the harmony as iv iio6 i6 or iv6 iio6/4 V7.

There are other possibilities.

You probably expect the answer to simply be 'it resolves to E major, because that 'resolves' the diminished triad treating it as the leading tone triad viio. But it's really wrong to think that is the one answer.

  • Beware of restricting yourself to diatonic chords in one key. II7 V7 I is as common as ii7 V7 I.
    – Laurence
    Feb 6, 2019 at 14:58
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    True. But, I only used the plain ii (iv in minor) because that was the chord in the question. Feb 6, 2019 at 15:00

A nice solution would be:

Starting in A :

A - f# - d#dim - A/E - E7 - A -> I -vi - (vii°7) - I46 - V - I

d#dim would be a secondary vii°7 to A/E (I46) with the final E - A = V - I

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