Secondary Dominants Worksheet

Using Secondary Dominant Chords

We’ve already learned how a V7 chord cadences to a I chord.  To create tension and motion in a chord progression, we can mimic this cadence by build a dominant 7 chord a perfect fifth above any diatonic chord, as long a the root of that dominant chord happens to be a diatonic pitch.  Therefore, the VIIdim is the only chord which may not have a secondary dominant.  It is analyzed as V7/x where x is the diatonic chord a fifth below the dominant to which it resolves.

For example, the IV chord in G is C and can proceeded by a G7, as G is a fifth above C and a diatonic pitch.  This would be analyzed as V7/IV. 

As another example, the VI- in C is A minor, which could be proceeded by an E7.  This is analyzed as V7/VI-

Exercise 1

Analyze the chord progression and circle the secondary dominants of the following popular songs.

“In My Life” by The Beatles

|G—D—|—Em— G7—|C—Cm—|G———|

“First Day Of My Life” by Bright Eyes


“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

|G————— |Em7—————|G————— |Em7—————|



Exercise 2

Pick a major key, write out its chord and then their secondary dominants.  Use these chords to compose a song or chord progression with at least two secondary dominants.

        I II-    III-     IV         V     VI-         VIIdim

_______ Major

    V7/I           V7/II-      V7/III-     V7/IV    V7/V     V7/VI-       

Exercise 3

Now repeat the above exercise in a minor tonality.

        I- IIdim     bIII       IV- V-        (V7) bVI         bVII


V7/I-         V7/bIII       V7/IV-         V7/V- or V&      V7/bVI       V7/bVII