theory from Frank Singer.comSubstitute Dominants | print this page | close this window |

Substitute dominants replace existing dominant seventh chords, creating a resolution of down a half-step instead of forward through the cycle of fifths. This process is sometimes refered to as tritone substitution, because the roots of the original dominant and the substitute dominant will be a tritone apart, and because both chords use the same tritone for guide tones.

Substitute Dominants
Substitute Dominants
|| I subV7/VIII--> | V/3rd subV7/VI--> | VIm7 subV7/V--> | V7 subV7/IV--> | IVmaj7 subV7/III--> | IIIm7 subV7/II--> | IIm7 subV7--> | I ||
|| C   C7 |  G/B   Bb7 |  Am7   Ab7 |  G   Gb7 |  F   F7 |  Em7   Eb7 |  Dm7   Db7 |  C  ||

Substitute dominants share the same guide tones as the replaced dominant chord. For G7, the primary dominant of C, the guide tones are B (the third of G7, ti of the key) and F (the seventh of G7, fa of the key). These notes are the guide tones of Db7, with F now being the third, and B now being Cb, the seventh of Db7. Notice the roots G and Db are a tritone apart.

Substitute Dominants
Substitute Dominant Original Dominant Example in C Diatonic Target Example in C
subV7 original dominant
subV7/VII V7/VII C7 F#7 V/3rd G/B
subV7/VI V7/VI Bb7 E7 VIm7 Am7
subV7/V V7/V Ab7 D7 V7 G7
subV7/IV V7/IV Gb7 C7 IVmaj7 Fmaj7
subV7/III V7/III F7 B7 IIIm7 or I/3rd Em7 or C/E
subV7/II V7/II Eb7 A7 IIm7 Dm7
subV7 (/I) V7 (/I) Db7 G7 Imaj7 Cmaj7

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