The Subdominant: If the fifth degree is the dominant, then it only makes sense that the fourth degree is the subdominant. The fourth degree is somewhat undermined by the fact that it is so close to the dominant. However, there are a couple characteristics about the subdominant which are often true:
a) If the music jumps from the tonic to the subdominant, then the next note is most likely lower in pitch.
b) The note following the subdominant is often the mediant.
Keep in mind that these are tendancies and are by no means steadfast rules.
The Submediant: The submediant is the sixth degree. It is similar to the subdominant in that it is drawn toward the dominant. This is especially true of minor scales because there is a half step between the fifth and sixth degrees of the minor scale.
The Supertonic: The supertonic is the second degree of the scale. It tends to be used to approach the tonic or the mediant. In the following piece of music, the supertonic occurs in only two measures, but in both measures the supertonic precedes either the tonic or the mediant.
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