root of the subdominant chord

"The third note of the octave scale, E, the center of the tonic chord in the key of C, is the center of the system. It is the note which has the least tendency either upward or downward, and it has immediately above it in the octave scale the note which has the greatest amount of specific gravity, F, the root of the major subdominant; and immediately beneath it the note which has the greatest amount of specific levity, D, the top of the major dominant. Thus the root of the subdominant chord and the top of the dominant are placed right above and below the center of the system, and the gravity of the one above, and the levity of the one below, causes each of them to move in the direction of the center. These tendencies are seen in the scale at whatever key it may be pitched, and by whatever names the notes may be called. And it is on account of this permanency of character of the notes that the third note of the scale, E, in the key of C, has a lower effect1 than the second, D; and that the fourth note, F, has a lower effect than either the first, second, or third; the fifth note, G, has a higher effect than the fourth, F; but the sixth, A, has a.." [scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 28]

In the progression - that is, the going on from one to another - of these triplets in harmonizing the octave scale ascending, Nature goes on normally till we come to the passage from the sixth to the seventh note of the scale, whose two chords have no note in common, and a new step has to be taken to link them together. And here the true way is to follow the method of Nature in the birthplace of chords.1 The root of the subdominant chord, to which the sixth of the octave scale belongs, which then becomes a 4-note chord, and is called the dominant seventh; F, the root of the subdominant F, A, C, is added to G, B, D, the notes of the dominant, which then becomes G, B, D, F; the two chords have now a note in common, and can pass on to the end of the octave scale normally. In going down the octave scale with harmony, the passage from the seventh to the sixth, where this break exists, meets us at the very second step; but following Nature's method again, the top of the dominant goes over to the root of the subdominant, and F, A, C, which has no note in common with G, B, D, becomes D, F, A, C, and is called the subdominant sixth; and continuity being thus established, the harmony then passes on normally to the bottom of the scale, every successive chord being linked to the preceding note by a note in common. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 49]

In the laws of quantities and motions the three primary ratios, 1:2, 1:3, 1:5, with the three different units, F1, C3, and G9, the roots of the chords of the subdominant, tonic, and dominant, produce the three chords of the musical system major, the one not interfering with the other; and by an inverse process are produced, from B720, E240, and A80, its generating notes, the three chords of the musical system minor; the one chord not interfering with the other. In a similar way the chromatic chords can be produced from three different units, without the one interfering with the other; and, like the subdominant, tonic, and dominant chords of the diatonic scale, they are fifths apart. So we may call them the subdominant, tonic, and dominant chromatic chords. Each of the three chromatic chords has also kinship with the major and minor modes, from the way in which the diatonic minor triad is constituted a chromatic chord by its supplement coming in the one side from the minor, and on the other side from the major system. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 53]

This great genetic scale, the all-producer, the all-container, extends over six octaves on each side; for it is not till high in the sixth octave we get B in the major, and it is not till low in the sixth octave that we get F in the minor. It is in the fifth octave, however, that the note which is the distinctive mark of the masculine and feminine modes is generated. D27 in the major, and D26 2/3 in the minor, distinguishes the sex of the modes, and shows which is the head and which the helpmeet in this happy family.2 On the major side F, the root of the subdominant chord, that is the chord which is a fifth below the key-note C, is the root of all. This is the beginning of this creation. If we call the vibration-number of F one, for simplicity's sake, then F1 is multiplied by 3 and by 5, which natural process begets its fifth, C, and its third, A; this is the root, top, and middle of the first chord. From this top, C3, grows the next chord by the same natural process, multiplying by 3 and by 5; thus are produced the fifth and third of the second chord, G and E. From the top of this second chord grows the third and last chord, by the repetition of the same natural process; multiplying G9 by 3 and by 5 we [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 66]

Six Octaves required for the Birth of the Scale


THIS plate is a Pendulum illustration of the System of musical vibrations. The circular lines represent Octaves in music. The thick are the octave lines of the fundamental note; and the thin lines between them are lines of the other six notes of the octave. The notes are all on lines only, not lines and spaces. The black dots arranged in these lines are not notes, but pendulum oscillations, which have the same ratios in their slow way as the vibrations of sounding instruments in the much quicker region where they exist. The center circle is the Root of the System; it represents F1, the root of the subdominant chord; the second thick line is F2, its octave; and all the thick lines are the rising octaves of F, namely 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64. In the second octave on the fifth line are dots for the three oscillations which represent the note C3, the Fifth to F2, standing in the ratio of 3 to 2; and the corresponding lines in the four succeeding Octaves are the Octaves of C3, namely 6, 12, 24, and 48. On the third line in the third Octave are 5 dots, which are the 5 oscillations of a pendulum tuned to swing 5 to 4 of the F close below; and it represents A5, which is the Third of F4 among musical vibrations. On the first line in the fourth Octave are 9 dots. These again represent G9, which stands related to C3 as C3 stands to F1. On the seventh line of the same octave are 15 dots; these represent the vibrations of E15, which stands related to C3 as A5 stands to F1. On the sixth line of the fifth Octave are 27 dots, representing D27, which stands related to G9 as G9 stands to C3, and C3 also to F1; it is the Fifth to G. And last of all, on the fourth line of the sixth Octave are 45 dots, representing B45, which, lastly, stands related to G9 as E15 stands to C3, and A5 to F1; it is the Third to this third chord - G, B, D. The notes which arise in each octave coming outward from the center are repeated in a double number of dots in the following Octaves; A5 appears as 10, 20, and 40; G9 appears as 18 and 36; E15 appears as 30 and 60; D27 appears as 54; and last of all B45 only appears this once. This we have represented by pendulum oscillations, which we can follow with the eye, the three chords of the musical system, F, A, C; C, E, G; and G, B, D. C3 is from F1 multiplied by 3; G9 is from C3 multiplied by 3; these are the three Roots of the three Chords. Their Middles, that is their Thirds, are similarly developed; A is from F1 multiplied by 5; E15 is from C3 multiplied by 5; B45 is from G9 multiplied by 5. The primes 3 and 5 beget all the new notes, the Fifths and the Thirds; and the prime 2 repeats them all in Octaves to any extent. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 102]

See Also

root of the major subdominant

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Saturday December 19, 2020 03:20:52 MST by Dale Pond.