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Tonicization

V of V in C, four-part harmony Play (help·info).

Secondary leading-tone chord: viio7/V - V in C major


Play (help info) This may also be considered an
Play (help·info). This may also be considered an
altered IV7 (FACE becomes F♯ACE♭).[1]

In music, tonicization is the treatment of a


pitch other than the overall tonic (the
"home note" of a piece) as a temporary
tonic in a composition. In Western music
that is tonal, the song or piece is heard by
the listener as being in a certain key. A
tonic chord has a dominant chord; in the
key of C major, the tonic chord is C major
and the dominant chord is G major or G
dominant seventh. The dominant chord,
especially if it is a dominant seventh, is
heard by Western composers and listeners
familiar with music as resolving (or
"leading") to the tonic, due to the use of
the leading note in the dominant chord. A
tonicized chord is a chord other than the
tonic chord to which a dominant or
dominant seventh chord progresses. When
a dominant chord or dominant seventh
chord is used before a chord other than
the tonic, this dominant or dominant
seventh chord is called a secondary
dominant.[2] When a chord is tonicized,
this makes this non-tonic chord sound
temporarily like a tonic chord.

Examples
Using Roman numeral chord analysis, a
chord labeled "V/ii" (colloquially referred to
as "five of two") would refer to the V chord
of a different key; specifically, a key named
after the ii chord of the original tonic. This
would usually resolve to the ii chord (of the
original key). In this situation, the ii has
been tonicized.

For example, in a piece in the key of C


major, the ii chord is D minor, because D is
the second scale degree in a C major
scale. The D is minor because to construct
a triad over D using only the pitches
available in the key of C major—i.e. no
sharps, no flats—the triad must be minor—
the individual notes D, F and A. The V/ii
chord is composed of the pitches in a V
chord in the key of ii (key of D minor). The
pitches used in a V/ii in this example
include the notes A, C# and E (creating an
A major chord). In the key of D minor, an A
major chord is the dominant chord. In the
key of C major, C sharp is an accidental.
One can often find examples of
tonicization by looking for accidentals, as
there are always accidentals involved in
tonicization. However, it is important to
note that the opposite is not true—just
because there is an accidental does not
mean that it is definitely a case of
tonicization.
Only major and minor chords may be
tonicized. Diminished chords and
augmented chords cannot be tonicized
because they do not represent stable key
areas in Western music. For example, a B
minor chord (B, D, F#) occurring in any of
its closely related keys may be tonicized
with an F# major chord (V/V) because B
minor also represents a key area—the key
of B minor. However, a B diminished chord
(B, D, F) may not be tonicized because "B
diminished" could not be a stable key area;
there is no key area in Western classical
music that has B, D, & F—the pitches that
make up the B diminished chord—as the
first, third and fifth scale degrees,
respectively. This holds true of all
diminished and augmented chords.

Tonicizations may last for multiple chords.


Taking the example given above with the
chord progression V/ii → ii, it is possible to
extend this sequence backwards. Instead
of just V/ii → ii, there could be iv/ii → V/ii
→ ii (additionally, thinking about the last
chord in the sequence: ii, as i/ii, it
becomes clear why the phrase "temporary
tonic"—see above—is often used in relation
to tonicization). Though perceptions vary
[3] as a general rule if a chord is treated as
the tonic for longer than a phrase before
returning to the previous key area, then the
treatment is considered a modulation to a
new key.[4]

Modulation
In a song in C major, if a composer treats
another key as the tonic (for example, the
ii chord, D minor) for a short period by
alternating between A7 (the notes A, C#, E
and G) and D minor, and then returns to
the tonic (C Major), this is a tonicization of
the key of D minor. However, if a song in C
major shifts to the key of D minor and
stays in this second, new key for a
significant period, then this is usually
considered to be a modulation to the new
key (in this case, from C major to D minor).
In effect, D minor has become the new key
of the song.

"A secondary dominant is like a miniature


modulation; for just an instant, the
harmony moves out of the diatonic chords
of the key."[5]

See also
Secondary leading-tone chord

Sources
1. Bruce Benward and Marilyn Nadine Saker
(2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol.
I, seventh edition (Boston: McGraw-Hill),
p. 270. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
2. Bartlette, Christopher, and Steven G.
Laitz (2010). Graduate Review of Tonal
Theory. New York: Oxford University Press,
pg 137. ISBN 978-0-19-537698-2
3. Kostka, Stefan and Dorothy Payne
(2003). Tonal Harmony, p.289. "The line
between modulation and tonicization...is
not clearly defined in tonal music, nor is it
meant to be." ISBN 0-07-285260-7.
4. Gauldin, Robert (1997). Harmonic
Practice in Tonal Music New York: W.W.
Norton & Company, pg 366. ISBN 0-393-
97666-1
5. Benward & Saker (2003), p.272.

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