Chapter Four

Keys

The Dominant: The fifth degree, or dominant, is extremely important in its relationship to the tonic. In Chapter Three we stated that the first, fourth, fifth, and eighth degrees are considered perfect intervals. The dominant is a perfect interval regardless of whether it is above or below the tonic in pitch. See the below example. In the key of C, G is the dominant. G is a perfect fourth if it falls below the C and G is a perfect fifth if it is above C.

Take another look at Shenandoah. Note the importance of G. Not only does G begin the piece of music, but it gives a sense of completeness to the end of the first section of music in the third measure.

The Mediant: The third degree is halfway between the tonic and dominant, and is thus called the mediant. The third degree and fifth degree, when played with the tonic, create a very smooth sound. You should be able to pick the keynote from any key and play the third both below and above it. You will find that the third complements the tonic.

Let us take a short but related detour. You can play either the third or fifth intervals with other notes of the scale to add richness and depth of sound to your music. Look at and listen to the Battle Hymm of the Republic. This piece of music has numerous thirds.

Battle Hymm of the Republic Battle Hymm of the Republic Midi File

Now look and listen to the new, abbreviated version without the thirds. The version with the thirds sounds much fuller.

BATTLE HYMM OF THE REPUBLIC

Abbreviated Battle Hymm of the Republic Midi File

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