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Section 17.6 Irregular Resolutions of Secondary Chords

The roots of secondary dominants do not always resolve down a perfect fifth to the tonicized chord. In many of the examples of popular music with secondary dominants at the beginning of this chapter, the secondary dominants resolve deceptively.

Figure 17.6.1 Paul McCartney, “Yesterday” (1965)

In “Yesterday,” the \(\left.\text{V}\middle/\text{V}\right.\) resolves not to \(\left.\text{V}\right.\) but to \(\left.\text{IV}\right.\), which sometimes acts as a substitute for the \(\left.\text{V}\right.\) chord (the dominant) in popular music.

This progression also happens in “Forget You,” where a \(\left.\text{V}^{7}\middle/\text{V}\right.\) resolves to a \(\left.\text{IV}\right.\) chord.

Figure 17.6.2 Bruno Mars, CeeLo Green, Philip Lawrence, and Ari Levine, “Forget You” (2010)

In “I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trick, the \(\left.\text{V}\middle/\text{V}\right.\) chord resolves to a subtonic ♭\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\) chord in A major.

Figure 17.6.3 Rick Nielson, “I Want You to Want Me” (1977)

Remember, however, that the subtonic ♭\(\left.\text{VII}\right.\) in major can act as a substitute for the dominant (see the Harmonic Flowchart for Popular Music with Subtonic \(\left.\text{VII}\right.\) chord in Major).

In “Baby Love” by the Supremes, a \(\left.\text{C}^{7}\middle/\text{B}^{♭}\right.\) in C major (\(\left.\text{V}^{4}_{2}\middle/\text{IV}\right.\)) resolves to an \(\left.\text{A}^{7}\right.\) chord (\(\left.\text{V}^{7}\middle/\text{ii}\right.\)), which then resolves to \(\left.\text{ii}\right.\) (\(\left.\text{Dm}\right.\)). In this example, notice that the B♭ in the \(\left.\text{C}^{7}\middle/\text{B}^{♭}\right.\) is a lowered chromatic note that wants to resolve downward by half step to A. Instead of this A being the third of the \(\left.\text{IV}\right.\) chord (an F major chord), which is the traditional and expected resolution, it is the root of an \(\left.\text{A}^{7}\right.\) chord (\(\left.\text{V}^{7}\middle/\text{ii}\right.\)).

Figure 17.6.4 Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Eddie Holland, “Baby Love” (1964)

Finally, a rather common deceptive resolution of a secondary dominant is \(\left.\text{V}^{7}\middle/\text{vi}\right.\) to \(\left.\text{IV}\right.\), which can be seen in the following three examples.

Figure 17.6.5 Steve Cropper and Otis Redding, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” (1967)
Figure 17.6.6 John Lennon, “Imagine” (1971)
Figure 17.6.7 Beethoven, Piano Sonata Op. 53, I (1804)

There are two ways to conceptualize this progression. The first is that the progression of \(\left.\text{iii}\right.\) to \(\left.\text{IV}\right.\) (Em to F in C major) is not unusual, so E to F, which appears to be \(\left.\text{III}\right.\) to \(\left.\text{IV}\right.\) but is in fact \(\left.\text{V}\middle/\text{vi}\right.\) to \(\left.\text{IV}\right.\), is a chromatic modification of \(\left.\text{iii}\right.\) to \(\left.\text{IV}\right.\). Another way to think of \(\left.\text{V}\middle/\text{vi}\right.\) to \(\left.\text{IV}\right.\) is as \(\left.\text{V}\middle/\text{vi}\right.\) to \(\left.\text{VI}\middle/\text{vi}\right.\), a deceptive progression within the submediant area.

The conclusion is that secondary chords do not always resolve strictly to the chords they appear to be tonicizing.