Speaking of various kinds of chord alterations, we have seen that we can vary the coloring, and gravitation of consonances quite significantly, and thereby increase our harmonic armament, perhaps by a factor of two or more.
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The emergence of double dominants
Today we will get acquainted with one type of alteration which has gained in three hundred years such a firm position among the others that it is now accepted to be separated into a special class. Its action on the system of gravitation in the harmony expands the possibilities of this very harmony so much that the chords formed by this alteration can be distinguished as a new function.
We know three functional groups – tonic, dominant, and subdominant. Now we can talk about adding another group to them, another family of chords. This family is produced by only one alteration, namely the raising of the fourth step of the harmony, and only in the consonances of the subdominant group. So these new chords, in essence, are nothing more than altered subdominants.
The characteristics of double dominants
As you understand, the VIth step triad is not included here, as it does not have an altered note. So if you look with your eyes first, you take a second-step triad, for example, and you raise a third on it, right? What happened? Of course, the gravitation of the chord toward the dominant has increased. Also, the chord became a major triad – what a new color! But this is familiar to us – it’s about the same way alterations work in other cases as well.
The appearance and naming of double dominants
But now try this visual experiment: after the altered triad (the second chord of the first measure in the notes), write the dominant. That is, let the chord legally submit to gravity. It seems okay, you can resolve this dominance into a tonic or do something else with it. Now imagine mentally that it’s in G major. Or put an F-sharp in the given notes in the key. What does this pair of chords look like now? Like a perfectly normal dominant and typical tonic! That is, the appearance of such an alteration as “F-sharp” allows you to treat the chord in a different key altogether. And, in the key we have no signs, we are writing ourselves copyright free music in C major. Only the two chords, the altered second step and the dominant relate to each other, like the dominant and the tonic.
The naming controversy
And this imaginary tonic, the G major triad, is dominant in our basic tonality. In other words, a second-step triad with rising third acts as a dominant about the present dominant. Dominant to dominant. Double dominant. That is what this class of consonants is called – the double dominant. More precisely, this is the term adopted in the Moscow Conservatory and, accordingly, among all those who studied at the Moscow School. Representatives of the St. Petersburg school, on the other hand, insistently consider this group of chords to be altered subdominants.
The two types of double dominants
Like dominants, double dominants come in two kinds. As a dominant, we can use either a fifth-stage triad (or seventh-stage seventh chord) – as we most often do – or a seventh-stage triad (or seventh-stage seventh chord). It’s the same with double dominants. If we’re working in the familiar C major, the triads on the G note and the B note can be the dominants. If you are working