I am studying a song in Fm and the song has a the C7 V chord. I learned that you write the roman numeral V for this. Then later in the song it uses the Eb7 chord which is also the V chord but in the key of Ab. So do you also use the roman numeral V for this?

  • Does the E♭⁷ chord resolve to A♭? At some point there should be a x/y type symbol to indicate the modulation. – Andrew Leach Feb 1 '20 at 8:12
  • Yes it does. Full chord progression is Fm, Gm7b5, C7, Bbm, Eb7, Ab7M..... – armani Feb 1 '20 at 10:12

Two basic ways to do it: show a key change, or show a secondary function...

Fm: V7 | i Ab: V7 | I ...that shows a key change the two V7 are specific to the keys as labeled.

Fm: V7 | i V7/iii | iii ...that shows the V7 relative to iii using a slash. A key change has not been labeled so it's called a secondary function.


If the key is still in F, Eb will be called bVII 7th. This is because Eb is the b7 from the key of F.

Btw this is a basic chord progression following harmonic minor/aeolian. Here Fm / C7 means F harmonic minor but Eb7 means it changed to F aeolian.

  • Yes that sounds right but what numerals do you use if it goes to F aeolian? I mean it is still the same key signature right? – armani Feb 1 '20 at 10:20
  • You might want to take it up with Tim but he says VII7 and you say bVII7... Is there a reason? – armani Feb 1 '20 at 10:40
  • @armani The difference between the ♭VII and VII can be summed up to conventions: music.stackexchange.com/q/95106/45266 (disclosure: I am one of the answerers). – user45266 Feb 8 '20 at 2:32

Indeed, C7 is the V chord for Fm. And E♭7 is the V chord for A♭. In the same piece, which hasn't modulated or changed key, V can't be both.

If the piece has modulated or changed key, then it could be construed that A♭ is the new I, which then makes E♭7 V (V7 exactly).

In key F minor, Fm is known as 'i', but A♭ will be III, and E♭ VII.

Could it be that a new section of the piece has changed the tonic from F to A♭? If so, that's why E♭ is called V. Otherwise, to answer your direct question, E♭7 will be ♭VII7.

EDIT: now we have the full sequence, I'd put A♭ as I, and Fm as vi, as in key A♭ major. Making the C7 III7, as opposed to V/vi, which it would be if only it was followed by Fm.

  • From the chord progression I posted above how can I tell if the tonic has changed from Fm to AbM7? I mean the progression just follows this path...or does the fact that the AbM7 comes next mean that the piece has modulated? I would say that modulation is a strong word for the chord progression above wouldnt you since after AbM7 it goes back to The beginning Fm chord? I only got the chords from a website but I doubt the sheetmusic for the song would say a modulation has taken place. – armani Feb 1 '20 at 10:18
  • You have to look at the rest of the piece to determine if there has been a modulation. Sometimes a V-I or V7-I (or variants) occurs, then the piece returns to the original chord progression. This is a "tonicization" (with a hard "c"). It's not always easy to tell a long tonicization from a modulation; however, either analysis is OK as the sound, not the labels, is what matters.(The correct term would be "modulation" as in FM radio, but that word now means "key change" and the term "tonicization" is used. – ttw Feb 1 '20 at 14:02
  • Ok so you say that because the C7 is not followed by the Fm chord you would say Ab major NOT Fm but later in the piece there is a time where it does resolve to Fm too... so since during the song the C7 resolves to both chords... what roman numerals do we use? We cant chop and change else it is confusing. How do we decide? – armani Feb 3 '20 at 13:41
  • @armani - undecided - that's why the question got an upvote. Waiting for a good answer... – Tim Feb 3 '20 at 14:13

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