Major, Parallel Minor, and Secondary Dominant Chords

Combining the Major, Secondary Dominant, and Parallel Minor chords is a great way to add more variety and color to your chord progressions.

IiiiiiIVVvivii°
MajorCD-E-FGA-B°
Secondary DominantA7B7C7D7E7
Parallel MinorC-D°E♭F-G-A♭B♭
iii°♭iiiivv♭vi♭vii

Major Chords

ChordsIiiiiiIVVvivii°
MajorCD-E-FGA-B°
Secondary DominantA7B7C7D7E7

The Major scale is your starting point and foundation.

Example Major Chord Progressions

  • I – IV – V – I (C, F, G, C)
  • vi – IV – ii – V (A-, F, D-, G)
  • I – vi – IV – V (C, A-, F, G)

Secondary Dominant

The Secondary Dominant is a 5th above the respective chord. It’s referred to as the 5 chord. For example, A7 is the 5 chord of the 2 chord, D-. The symbol is written as: V/ii

The Secondary Dominant can be played as either a Major chord or a Dominant 7 chord.

Example Major Chord Progressions with Secondary Dominant

  • I – V/vi – IV – iv (C, E, F, F-) *note the F- is a Parallel Minor chord
  • I – V/IV, IV – V – I (C, C7, F, G, C)
  • I – V/ii, iii – V (C, A, E-, G7)

Parallel Minor Chords

iii°♭iiiivv♭vi♭vii
C-D°E♭F-G-A♭B♭

The Parallel Minor is built of the tonic (C in this case) and a minor scale (Aeolian). The C Aeolian scale is: C, D, E♭, F, G, A♭, B♭.

Taking chords from the Parallel Minor is a great way to spruce up your Major chord progressions. They are also effective in adding resolutions to your chord progressions, for example:

  • ♭iii to I (E♭, C)
  • ♭vii to I (B♭, C)
  • ♭vi to I (A♭, C)

Example Parallel Minor Chord Progressions

  • I – v – IV – I (C, G-, F, C)
  • I – v – ♭vi – ♭vii (C, G-, A♭, B♭)
  • I – V/ii – ii – ♭vii – V (C, A, D-, B♭, G7)