A7 in F major?
July 05, 2018 09:02PM
Hello! I'm relatively new to music theory. I'm really racking my brain trying to justify this Chord progression from Sam Smiths "I'm not the only one"

It goes F major to A7 to D minor.

I'm confused because how does A7 fit into F major? It has to have something to do with modal interchange, but I just can't figure out what. How can you just borrow that c#?

Anyway I came to this forum because I'm at a loss... Can anyone explain it?

Thanks in advance! :)
Re: A7 in F major?
July 07, 2018 06:27PM
A chord sequence like this is (classical harmony) called a "secondary dominant"; it's very common from the Baroque to modern music. The name (and effect) seems to come Walter Piston's early books. The idea is that the A7 chord is the dominant of the d-minor chord. Piston termed the I, IV, and V chords as primary and the ii, iii, and vi chords as secondary. The point is to "tonicize" the d-minor chord for a very short time. The overall harmonic structure isn't disturbed by secondary dominants (even lots of them). Any diatonic major or minor can get this treatment

Historical note. I found some early descriptions of this construct. It was called a "attendant" or "applied" dominant. (I think this was in Frank Shepard's book around 1890). Earlier descriptions described this as a "modulation" (like in radio frequency modulation) but that term is now used for a change of key. (The older use meant playing harmonies around the main key to further emphasize which key is the main one.)

It's a nice way to extend a chord; I've even seen (but don't remember where) a ii-V-I construct applied to another chord (even ii-V-I or ii0-V-i). One might (in the key of F) decide to "tonicize" d-minor by playing e60-A7-d (e diminished in first inversion followed by A7 then d-minor). This doesn't effect a true modulation unless the d-minor is prolonged somehow.
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