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Jazz Guitar Lessons

Secondary Dominants and their Extensions – A Chuck Anderson Lesson

Chuck Anderson

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Chuck Anderson provides examples with his Secondary Dominants lesson – his Jazz Guitar Improvisation Lesson Series continues.


Secondary Dominant is a subset of Partial Diatonic

There are FIVE Secondary Dominants in each major key. 

  • If the I of the key is a 7th chord and is followed by a IVmaj7, then that 7th chord will be called the V of the IV.
  • If the II of the key is a 7th chord and is followed by a V7, then that 7th chord will be called the V of the V.
  • If the III of the key is a 7th chord and is followed by a VIm7, then that 7th chord will be called the V of the VI.
  • If the VI of the key is a 7th chord and is followed by a IIm7, then that 7th chord will be called the V of the II.
  • If the VII degree of the key is a 7th chord and is followed by a IIIm7, then that 7th chord will be called the V of the III.

There are THREE Secondary Dominants in each minor key.

  • If the I of the key is a 7th chord and is followed by a IVm7, then that 7th chord will be called the V of the IV.
  • If the II of the key is a 7th chord and is followed by a V7, then that 7th chord will be called the V of the V.
  • If the III of the key is a 7th chord and is followed by a VImaj7, then that 7th chord will be called the V of the VI.

Examples in C Major

1)   Cmaj7 – C7 – Fmaj7

2)   Cmaj7 – D7 – G7 

3)   Cmaj7 – E7 – Am7 

4)  Cmaj7 – A7 – Dm7

5)   Cmaj7 – B7 – Em7

Examples in C Minor

1)   Cm7 – C7 – Fm7

2)   Cm7 – D7 – G7

3)   Cm7 – Eb7 – Abmaj7

Extended Secondary Dominants

If a secondary dominant chord has a m7 or m7b5 directly before the secondary dominant chord, it is potentially an extended secondary dominant.To qualify as an extension, this chord needs to be built on the 5th degree of the secondary dominant chord. If resolution after the secondary dominant chord is a maj7 or a 7th, the extension will be a m7. If the resolution after the secondary dominant chord is a m7, the extension will be a m7b5.

Here are three examples of commonly used extended secondary dominant chords. In each case, the extension is the 2nd chord of the following three chord progressions.

Cmaj7 – Gm7 – C7 – Fmaj7

Cmaj7 – Bm7b5 – E7 – Am7

Cmaj7 – Em7b5 – A7 – Dm7

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