theory from Frank Singer.comFunctional Harmony | print this page | close this window |

Functional Harmony operates from the assumption that each chord in a progression has a particular purpose within that progression. This purpose is refered to as the chord's function.

The three basic functions are:

Diatonic Functional Harmony
Tonic Sub-Dominant Dominant
Imaj7  VIm7  [IIIm7]
Cmaj7  Am7  [Em7]
IVmaj7  IIm7
Fmaj7  Dm7

The function of a chord is determined by the scale degrees contained in the chord. The three principal scale degrees used in determining the chords function are the first, fourth and seventh degrees.


Non-diatonic chords can be classified using the same qualifications. Note that using substitution chords (one purpose for functional areas) requires that the proper melody-harmony relationship be maintained.

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