Spelling Subdominant-Function Triads and Seventh Chords in Major and Minor Keys Utilizing a Patterned Approach

Paula J. Telesco

This resource was originally published in 2014 under the title "Spelling ii(7) and IV(7) in Major and Minor Keys - includes answer key"

This discussion and worksheet is appropriate for high school AP students, liberal arts college non-music- majors, music minors, or music majors.

Pattern recognition ability has been shown to be an important predictor of success in Music Theory courses. This handout includes some basic information regarding Nancy Rogers’ and Jane Clendinning’s testing of the correlation between pattern recognition and success in Music Theory classes.

This handout discusses subdominant-function chords (chords with scale degrees 4 and 6), shows some model part-writing and the derivation of chromatic subdominant-function chords, discusses the importance of pattern-based approaches, explains and demonstrates some patterns to be aware of, and offers a systematic pattern-based approach to spelling these triads and seventh chords.

Students are asked to notate these chords in complementary keys (e.g., C major, Cb major), and the keys progress up by half or whole step through the octave. There is one worksheet for major keys and one for minor keys. This pedagogical approach allows students to recognize a pattern as they notate these chords, and helps sensitize them to musical patterns in general. I have found approaching topics in a way that utilizes and reinforces patterns to be a helpful approach.