V of III Secondary Dominant Patterns | Hub Guitar

V of III Secondary Dominant Patterns

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Hi. This is Hub Guitar.

We're going to talk about the V of III chord.

This is a secondary dominant chord. So it would not normally be found inside of the chords used for the key. Instead, it is the fifth chord of the key that could be created from the third chord of the original key.

For example, in C major, the I chord is C and the III chord is E minor. Now, the V chord of E minor would be B major. That chord doesn't belong in the key of C, but we can "borrow" it and put it in front of the E minor, giving more weight to the E minor chord.

We're going to play this on strings 2, 3 and 4 because this is a good range for accompaniment.

Let's hear it.

So once you've got this down, you want to apply this to other inversions of the C chord, and other string sets. Learn the patterns, and get used to the sound of that V of III. Then try to apply it to your own playing.


The V of III can be thought of as a borrowed dominant chord from the key of the III. It does not exist in the key of the I chord, except for its momentary use to transition to the III.

Example Chord Progression

In the key of C, C is the I chord. And the IIImin chord is Emin. Suppose we want to “highlight” the III chord. We can precede it with the V chord from the key of III. Since III is E, its relative V chord would be Bmaj. This is a chord that does not normally exist in the key of C. But we can “borrow” it, and put it in front of the Emin.

Function I V/III IIImin V
Chord C B Emin G
Chord Source C major E minor C major C minor

Chord Sources

Note that in the chart above, we claim that the chord B comes from the key of E minor. That’s because the key of E minor shares most of its notes with the key of C major, and this is the most likely context in which we would borrow a chord from E minor for use in C major. Also, since the chord after the B major is an E minor chord, we'll tend to hear some relationship between them.

The Chords

C Major, Root Position

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g natural
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e natural
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c natural
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B Major, Root Position

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f sharp, g flat
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d sharp, e flat
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b natural
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E Minor, 2nd Inversion

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g natural
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e natural
b natural
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G Major, 1st Inversion

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d natural
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g natural
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b natural
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C Major, Root Position

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g natural
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e natural
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c natural
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Key Exercises

  • Learn, memorize, and apply the chords.
  • Create another progression using closed triads. For instance, voice lead the same progression starting on the 1st inversion of C major.

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