Skip to main content

Section 18.1 Secondary Diminished Chords

The \(\left.\text{vii}^{\circ}{}\right.\) chord has dominant function (see the Harmonic Function Flowchart). Since chords of dominant function typically resolve to chords of tonic function, diminished triads as well as half–diminished and fully–diminished seventh chords occur as secondary diminished chords.

Figure 18.1.1. A Harmonic Sequence with Secondary Diminished Chords in C major

Below are some examples of pieces with secondary diminished chords. Notice that chromaticism is an “essential” part of secondary diminished chords (“non–essential” chromaticism refers to chromatic non–chord tones).

Figure 18.1.2. J.S. Bach, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben BWV 147, X. “Jesus bleibet Freude” (“Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring”) (1723)
Figure 18.1.3. Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker, “Trepak” (1892)
Figure 18.1.4. Billy Joel, “Just the Way You Are” (1977)
Figure 18.1.5. Dewayne Blackwell and Earl Bud Lee, “Friends in Low Places” (1990)