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Here’s a thing which has intrigued me long‑term. I regularly challenge theory students to identify a tonal composition in minor that does not “somewhere use the dominant minor”. There’s one Schumann song which might just demonstrate it, but it uses III a lot, and the flat 7 could well be emblematic of v, rather than V. Otherwise, zilch, which is also my own experience of the tonal repertoire.
I know (=I know, I know, I know) Schenker says chromatics are a foreground feature. Obviously there is something intuitively grammatical about any v in i.
Anyway, never mind Schenker. (1) Why is there always a dominant minor in minor mode music—is it some kind of “obligatory” feature? (2) Where in the history of theory has this been discussed before?
Professor of Music Theory
Eastman School of Music
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