Applied V and VII

Any major or minor triad within a key may be preceded by an "applied" V or VII. The applied chord may be a triad or seventh chord in root position or inversion. Applied V and VII chords function as temporary dominants to the chord that follows it.

Because this kind of dominant function represents a local embellishment of a diatonic triad, its dominant function is secondary to the dominant of the home key. In fact "applied chords" are sometimes called "secondary" dominants.

Here is a table of frequently used applied chords and there local destinations. Notice again how harmonic function (column 2) is determined by melodic tendencies of the bass (column 3).

V, V7 leads to root position triads bass moves by skip
V6, V65, viio7 resolves to root position triads bass acts as temporary LT
viio6, V43, viio65 may resolve EITHER to a first inversion or a root position triads bass free to move up or down by step
V42, viio43 resolves to first inversion triads bass MUST resolve down by step

Voice-Leading Fundamentals

  1. Never double the TEMPORARY leading tone. Especially if:


  2. A direct chromatic succession sounds best when it appears in the same voice--cross relations are generally avoided.

  3. When an applied VIIo7 leads to V, the diminished seventh will resolve irregularly in order to avoid a doubled leading tone.

  4. Applied V and VII often occur in sequences, tonicizing certain triads along the way. As with all sequences, the overall harmonic goal of the sequence is a more important formal goal than the transient goals within the sequence. (See Keyboard Exercise 3.)

Last update 03.27.99