Music theory is a vast field and it has many different aspects that musicians need to understand in order to create beautiful music. One of the key concepts in music theory is secondary functions, which are chords that help to create a sense of harmony and movement within a musical piece. In this article, we will explore what secondary functions are and how they work in music theory.

What Are Secondary Functions?

Secondary functions are chords that serve as substitutes for other chords within a musical piece. They are called “secondary” because they function as an alternative to the primary or main chords in a key. Secondary functions can be used to create tension, release, and movement within a musical piece.

Types of Secondary Functions

There are two main types of secondary functions: dominant and predominant. Dominant secondary functions are chords that substitute for the dominant chord in a key. Predominant secondary functions are chords that substitute for the predominant (or subdominant) chord in a key.

How Secondary Functions Work

Secondary functions work by creating tension and release within a musical piece. They do this by substituting for the primary chords in a key, which creates a sense of harmonic movement and progression.

For example, if we take the key of C major, the dominant chord is G7. By using a secondary dominant chord (such as D7), we create tension that resolves back to the main dominant chord.

Examples of Secondary Functions in Music

Secondary functions can be found in many different genres of music. One famous example is in the Beatles’ song “Hey Jude,” where they use a secondary dominant (V/V) chord to create tension before resolving back to the main dominant (V) chord.

Another example can be found in Chopin’s Prelude in E minor, where he uses a Neapolitan (N) chord to create tension before resolving back to the subdominant (IV) chord.

Conclusion

Secondary functions are an important concept in music theory that allow musicians to create tension, release, and movement within their compositions. By substituting for primary chords, secondary functions create harmonic progression and keep listeners engaged with the music. Understanding secondary functions is essential for any musician who wants to create beautiful and complex compositions that are both engaging and satisfying to listen to.