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Section 3.3 Scale Degree Names

Scale degrees, though often referred to by numbers, also have names.

For scale degree names, 1 is "tonic," 2 is "supertonic," 3 is "mediant," 4 is "subdominant," 5 is "dominant," 6 is "submediant," and 7 is "leading tone"

These names will be used throughout this text to refer to scale degrees, chords built on these scale degrees, and keys associated with these scale degrees.

Another way to understand why some scale degrees have “sub-” in their names is through the following example.

An example showing that the dominant is a 5th above tonic and the mediant is midway between them, and that the subdominant is a 5th below the tonic and that the submediant is midway between tonic and subdominant

Notice that the subtonic is a whole step below the tonic, while the leading tone is only a half step below the tonic.