Friday, July 17, 2015

Tonic Function

Hey guys! This is the accompanying practice exercise section for 12Tone. Totally optional, but it gives you a chance to try out some of these things for real, so give it a shot!

Today we're looking at Tonic Function. If you haven't seen the video yet, you can find it here. If you have, dive in to these questions! You can answer in the comments here or on youtube.

1) Identify the tonic function chords in each of these major keys:

2) Name the key in which the following chords have tonic function. Are there any chords that are tonic in more than one key? What do those chords have in common?

3) Identify the tonic function chords in the following progression. Do you notice anything about where those chords are placed in the progression? If you can, play through the progression on an instrument and listen for the tonic chords.

And that's it! Comment below and we'll see you next week!


  1. If you make a circle of alternating major and minor intervals (such as the C major add 7,9,#11,13,#15,17,#19,21,#23,#25,#27,#29,32,b34,36,b38,40,b41,43,45,47 which is a most disharmonious mess made completely of normal major and minor chords [and the logical conclusion of the trend towards dissonance in music by adding tensions that are major and minor thirds above the top]) you get a 24 note circle which has Tonic function chords next to each other (assuming that bIII is counted as a tonic function chord for a minor key). Of course the 24 note circle is only complete in 12 tone tuning, in 31 tone tuning it would be a 62 note circle where the ends of it are outside of our hearing range.

    Anyways on to the answers:
    1 1) C,Em, Am 2) A C#m F#m 3) Bb Dm Gm 4) G Bm Em 5) Ab Cm Fm 6) F# A#m D#m

    2 1) Em, C, (Am) 2) Bb, Gm, Eb 3) G#m, E, (C#m) 4) F#m, D, (Bm) 5) F, Am, C 6) Fdim is never tonic as far I know.
    The chords that are most useful as tonic function chords are minor chords since the bIII is a weak chord for the purpose of tonic function.

    3) G is tonic, Em is tonic, C is subdominant, D is dominant, Em is tonic, F#dim is dominant, G is tonic, D7 is dominant, G is tonic, Bm is tonic, Am is subdominant, C is subdominant, Em is tonic, D7 is dominant, G is tonic.

    1. Sorry that is supposed to be C major add 7,9,#11,13,#15,17,#19,21,#23,#25,#27,#29,32,b34,36,b38,40,b42,44,46,48. I apologize for my typo and any confusion that may have caused.