5.11 Secondary degrees: the second degree (II)
|Category: Harmony | Tags: Chords, Triads|
In Chapter 2.12 Degrees: triads and scales at point 7. Table of degrees, you’ve learned about secondary degrees. Secondary degrees are the second degree (II), the third degree (III), the sixth degree (VI) and the seventh degree (VII). The secondary degrees do not have an intrinsic character, but derive this from one of the primary degrees. Secondary degrees can act as substitutes for the primary degrees. In this chapter you will learn about the second degree (II). You are goning to make second degrees in different scales yourself in the exercise.
1. The second degree (II)
We will first investigate which tones the second degree (II) has in common with the first, fourth and fifth degrees.
In C major, the second tone is D, the second degree (II) is comprised of the tones D F A.
In C major, the first degree (I) is comprised of the tones C E G. The second degree (II) has not one tone in common with the first degree (I).
The fourth degree (IV) is comprised of the tones F A C. The second degree (II) has two tones in common with the fourth degree (IV), namely, the root F and the third C of the fourth degree. These two are the most important tones.
The fifth degree (V) is comprised of the tones G B D. The second degree (II) has one tone in common with the fifth degree (V), namely, the fifth D of the fifth degree. This is the least important tone.
The second degree is most strongly connected to the fourth degree (IV).
Which tones has the second degree in common with the first, fourth and fifth degrees?
2. Subdominant function
The second degree is most strongly connected to the fourth degree (IV) and, therefore has a subdominant function. The second degree can occur as a substitution of the fourth degree. The second degree, therfore, has a stronger harmonic role than the fourth degree.
In the chord progression IV - V - I, the fourth degree can be replaced by the second degree and becomes II - V - I. The chord progression II - V is stronger than IV - V. The chord progression IV - II - V - I is strong and occurs very often. The chord progression II - IV is weak and appears only incidentally.
Listen to some examples:
Listen to IV-V-I
Listen to II-V-I
Listen to I-II-V-I
Listen to I-IV-II-V-I
3. The second degree as seventh chord
The second degree also occurs as a seventh chord (II7). The chord progression II7 - V - I is stronger than II - V - I.
Harmony exercise 5m: practise making the second degree of various major and minor scales.
5. Ear training
To learn to recognize the different degrees and chord functions by ear, a number of different exercises have been made for the enthusiast. These exercises are called Recognizing degrees, Notating degrees and Degrees and melody. You can find these exercises in Chapter 5.25 Degrees: ear training.