A Survey of Music Theory for the College Classroom: Diatonic Harmony

Leading Tone Seventh Chords

Overview

The leading tone seventh chord is sometimes used as a dominant functioning chord in place of the V and V7 in tonal progressions in both major and minor keys. In major keys it is a half-diminished seventh chord, while in minor keys it is a fully diminished seventh chord. Both the viiØ7 and the viio7 typically resolve to the tonic chord, but they can also resolve to a V7.

Major

In major mode, use the following guidelines for the resolution of viiØ7 chords in root position and inversion:

  • The seventh of the chord will resolve down by step.
  • The leading tone will resolve up, even when in an inner voice.
  • The third of the I chord may be doubled to avoid parallel fifths, which can happen easily in viiØ7 – I and viiØ43 – I progressions.
  • First inversion viiØ7 chords will progress to I6 chords to avoid parallel fifths between the third (bass) and seventh of the chord.
  • Second inversion viiØ7 chords typically progress to a I6 chord.
  • Third inversion viiØ7uses are infrequent and are not illustrated.

leading tone sevenths in major

Minor

In minor mode the viio7 is used in an equivalent manner as the viiØ7 is used in major mode. The resolution of the viio7 features the following:

  • The seventh of the chord will resolve down by step.
  • The leading tone will resolve up, even when in an inner voice.
  • The third of the I chord may be doubled in the resolution.
  • First inversion viio7 chords should progress to a i6 to avoid unequal fifths between the third (bass) and seventh of the chord.
  • Second inversion viio7 chords usually progress to i6 chords but can go to root position i chords.
  • Third inversion viio7chords can progress to i64 or V7 chords.

leading tone sevenths in minor

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