The fifth scale degree of a diatonic scale

In music theory, the "dominant" refers to the fifth scale degree of a diatonic scale, often represented by the Roman numeral "V" when analyzing harmonic progressions. The dominant note is a pivotal element in music, and its interactions with other scale degrees are central to creating harmonic tension and resolution. For example:

  • In the key of C major, the dominant note is G.
  • In the key of D major, the dominant note is A.

The dominant note is associated with a sense of tension and anticipation in music. It typically leads to a resolution either to the tonic (the first scale degree) or another chord. Harmonically, the dominant chord, typically denoted as "V", is built upon the dominant note.

  • In C major, the V chord is G major (G, B, D).
  • In D major, the V chord is A major (A, C#, E).

The dominant chord is crucial for creating a sense of forward motion and excitement in music. One of the most common and powerful harmonic progressions is the movement from the dominant to the tonic chord, known as the "V-I" (or "V-i" in minor keys) progression. This progression is often used to create a strong sense of resolution and conclusion.

Melodically, the dominant note plays a vital role in crafting expressive and engaging melodies. It can serve as a point of arrival or climax, and many melodies use the dominant note to build tension before resolving to other notes in the scale.

Example of Dominant

Lesson 21: Scale Degrees. What are they?