I am interested in the discussion entitled "Proper Uses of Minor Seventh Chords" in this question proper uses of minor seventh chords. Chord I7 is "secondary dominant" meaning that it has dominant function in any other chord that not the tonic in the song (SimplifyingTheory.Com). My question is: Can I apply this type of chord at the end of an antecedent phrase instead of "dominant" one? Here are the melodic details! enter image description here

  • I don't see any logical connection between the linked question and your question. Please edit your question to explain how you think they're related.
    – user9480
    Apr 23, 2020 at 14:36
  • Why are you specifically interested in the I7 chord as opposed to some other secondary dominant?
    – user9480
    Apr 23, 2020 at 16:27
  • Thank you so much for your replies. Truly speaking, I am analyzing my own song now for my report writing. I wish I could attach the song images here (but I don't know how). In the Chorus section, in the key of F Major, the progression is: Bb - C - F - Dm - Gm - C/G - F - F7 (antecedent phrase); Bb - C - F - Dm - Gm - C/G - F - F (consequent phrase). Theoretically, I have to use dominant chord (C Major) at the end of the antecedent phrase. But in fact, I use secondary dominant one (F7). Well, I guess the sound a little bit 'floats' compared to C Major. Apr 24, 2020 at 16:48

4 Answers 4


Since your question also mentions minor seventh chords, I wonder if what you are really asking is:

In a minor key, does the chord i7 have to function as a secondary dominant, or can I simply resolve on it? How about I7?

If so, the answer to the first question is yes, it's common to embellish the minor i chord in jazz and popular music. If you play the sequence of chords Am C F E7 Am7, the final Am7 should feel like home, and removing the seventh to make it an Am triad makes it somewhat more stable but doesn't change its functional essence.

i7 also sounds nice as a transition between the i chord and the iv chord. However, in this case we can't (strictly speaking) call it a secondary dominant because it isn't a dominant chord. This is where your I7 comes in: You might have learned that in a major key, the chord I7 often functions as the secondary dominant of IV. (In this case, many analysts would prefer to write I7 as V7/IV, read "five seven of four," to indicate its function.)

Similarly, in a minor key the "four" chord is minor iv, and its secondary dominant would be V7/iv, which is equivalent to I7. This chord, which differs from i7 in that it has a major triad and minor seventh (as opposed to i7's minor triad with minor seventh), is less stable than i7 and really "wants" to resolve to iv.

So, while no rule is set in stone, the chord I7 usually functions as a secondary dominant rather than a landing point.

Returning to the key of A minor, you could plausibly end on the chord Am7, but the chord A7 would more likely appear in the middle of a phrase or at the end of a section as a way of transitioning to the chord Dm or modulating to the key of D minor. An example of a chord cycle that using A7 as a secondary dominant could be |: Am A7 Dm E7 :|.



It's an older resource, but my Goetschius, Homophonic Forms describes it with a negative statement. In essence...

The antecedent ends with a... not perfect cadence...

According to his definition it could end on a tonic chord of the opening key so long as the cadence is imperfect, like a melody pausing on MI instead of DO. He then goes on to describe typical chords to end the antecedent, typically some kind of dominant chord or a dominant or tonic in some new key after a modulation.

So, the broad concept is: the antecedent sets up an expectation for a continuation, because its cadence feels incomplete. The feel of the complete, final cadence only comes with a perfect cadence in the opening key.

About your "antecedent" ending on I7.

Firstly, let's put that into Roman numeral analysis, because we really need to see what are tonic and dominant.

Antecedent: F: IV V I , vi ii V64 I (V7/IV)

Consequent: F: IV V I , vi ii V64 I I

You have four iterations of an approach to the tonic I.

Whether the phrases is an antecedent will depend a lot on the melody around Gm C/G F F7. If the melody goes to F at the F chord, you really have some kind of perfect cadence type harmony. Categorically, this wouldn't be an antecedent if the melody rests on F (solfege DO.)

(Technically V64 I isn't a perfect cadence, because of the bass, but in the matter of antecedent phrases, that seems much less important than whether the melody goes to the tonic - solfege DO.)

The F7 which I labelled F: V7/IV importantly comes after arriving at the tonic chord I. I didn't label it as Bb: V, because nothing really establishes the key Bb. That F7 doesn't have the harmonic feel of rest, it feels strongly as moving to the subdominant IV, the Bb chord. If a chord creates a feeling of movement, surely it isn't functioning cadentially.

None of this means there is a problem.

It's only a concern about using the right technical description.

This particular harmonic outline isn't enough to know whether it's an antecedent. We need the melodic details.


Yes, you can.

And that's not a 'there's no rules, you can do ANYTHING!' answer. You can do it well within the context of simple, functional harmony.

Here's three simple pairs of phrases. An antecedent phrase and a consequent phrase if you like to label them that way.

The first is a simple trip from C to G7 and back home again.

The second ventures as far as D7, the dominant of the dominant or 'secondary dominant'. (Notice I've also thrown in another secondary dominant - the dominant of the dominant of the dominant.) C, A7, D7. Then G7 and home.

The third uses minor seventh chords for the secondary dominants. Am7 and Dm7. Then G7, C as before. We could argue over whether the m7 chords can be strictly labelled as secondary DOMINANTS. But they're certainly doing what secondary dominants DO!

enter image description here

  • 2
    A lot of folk would argue that secondary dominants are only major based. (As in your example 2). I feel a question coming on!
    – Tim
    Apr 23, 2020 at 15:38
  • I'm guessing it's the M3 in a secodary dominant that is also the leading note for the chord it should lead to. But it doesn't have to, so does that negate the argument?
    – Tim
    Apr 23, 2020 at 16:03
  • The question asks specifically about the I7 chord (although it's not clear why).
    – user9480
    Apr 23, 2020 at 16:27
  • 1
    It can be read as asking specifically about secondary dominants, with I7 as an example. Anyway, slavish conformity to the terms of a question can be unhelpful. Sometimes you've got to fix the question before attempting an answer.
    – Laurence
    Apr 23, 2020 at 20:21
  • Yeah, the OP seems to think the antecedent needs to end on a dominant, but that isn't the case. May 18, 2020 at 15:11

The way I always thought about secondary dominants is that you can put them before any chord. Got an F? chuck in C7 before it. A C#? go for a G#7. If you are landing on a minor chord, say Bm, just make the secondary dominant an F#7b9 and you are good to go! Of course, this is just a rough sketch, and I am a jazz player by trade, but after years of playing jazz standards, adding in secondary dominants on any chord you like makes things fresh and interesting. Don't even get me started on secondary dominant tritone substitutions!!!

Have fun, that's the main thing. None of this is set in stone.

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