V of IV Secondary Dominant Patterns | Hub Guitar

V of IV Secondary Dominant Patterns

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The V of IV is a secondary dominant chord. It is a chord with notes that don't normally belong in the key.

The interesting thing about the V of IV is that a simple major triad cannot express the V of IV. That's because the root of the V of IV is also the root of the key.

For instance, in the key of G, the IV chord is C. But we can't just put a G major triad in front of C because that chord is already in the key. To prove that it's really a V7 from C, we have to add the flatted seventh, making it a G dominant seventh chord. So we are in the key of G major and when we hear a G dominant 7th chord, that must be a V of IV. because we have the F natural note, which does not belong in G and demonstrates the sound of the V of IV.

We're going to hear an example in the key of G major.

It is very popular to emphasize the IV chord, so the V/IV is a fairly common chord as well. It works especially well in this example because we highlight the IV major and then go to the IV minor, and then the V of IV gives both chords a bit more weight.

So learn these patterns and apply them to your playing.


The secondary dominant for a IV chord is the dominant chord from that key built on the IV.

Example Chord Progression

In the key of G major, the I chord is G and the IV chord is C.

If we want to create a tonicizationA method of composition which, usually temporarily, gives rise to the feeling that the tonal center has changed. For instance, the VImin can be tonicized by preceding it with the V/VI secondary dominant chord. of the C chord, we can use the dominant (V) chord from its key. However, that chord is also C major. The only way we can distinguish between I to IV and V/IV to IV is if the preceding chord has a ♭7. So to “prove” that the chord is working as a V/IV, we’ll add a ♭7 to the G chord, giving us G7. Now we know it’s not the I chord of the key, but the V/IV.

This chord is often used to highlight a change to IV-, a chord borrowed from the minor key.

Function I V/IV IV IV- I
Chord G G7 C Cmin G
Chord Source G major C major G major G minor G major

The V/IV sounds like it was borrowed from C major. However, given its short time in the spotlight, it can be heard as having its own special role in G major, which is how secondary dominants work. And instead of hearing the Cmin as coming from the key of C, it tends to sound like it’s the IVmin of G. Your ear is working to put these chords into the context of the current key.

The Chords

Gmaj7

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g natural
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b natural
f sharp, g flat
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d natural
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G major scale

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e natural
b natural
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c natural
g natural
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f sharp, g flat
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g natural
d natural
a natural
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G7

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f natural
g natural
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b natural
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d natural
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G Mixolydian scale (from C Major)

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e natural
b natural
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f natural
c natural
g natural
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g natural
d natural
a natural
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Cmaj7

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c natural
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b natural
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e natural
g natural
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C Lydian Scale (Back in G Major)

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a natural
e natural
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c natural
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b natural
f sharp, g flat
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c natural
g natural
d natural
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C-7

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a sharp, b flat
c natural
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d sharp, e flat
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g natural
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C Dorian Scale (IV- of G minor)

d sharp, e flat
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a natural
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a sharp, b flat
f natural
c natural
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c natural
g natural
d natural
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Key Exercises

  • Learn, memorize, and apply the patterns.
  • Play the chords using stop time and use the provided scales to improvise.

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