4.2 The pre-dominant, ii

The above arrangement of the folk song, "Jacob's Ladder" inserts a ii chord, F-minor, between the initial tonic and the dominant. This supertonic chord is called a pre-dominant (labeled PD under the score) because it functions as a signal that dominant harmony will follow. In general root movement by descending fifth, as in ii - V or in the familiar V - I, gives a progression a sense of direction or movement.

The smoothest voice leading between I and ii is Contrary Motion Nearest (CMN) since the roots move by step and there is no common tone. For example in the above music the E-flat in the bass moves up to F while all the other chord tones--G in the trumpet and E-flat and B-flat in the piano--move down, in contrary motion to the bass. Moving from ii to V is smoothest with Common Tone-Stepwise (CTS) voice leading. This is the case in the right hand of the piano between measures 3 and 4, though the movement in the trumpets is complicated by the leap in the melody and the 7ths and 9th above the bass.

In the top system to the right, the four voice texture clarifies the CMN and CTS voice leading between I and ii and between ii and V respectively (deeper levels not shown).

The bottom system adds pedal and cadential 6/4's. There is also another level analysis which includes the pre-dominant label, PD.

A word of caution: In minor keys do not use root position diminished triad, ii°. The tritone against the bass sounds harsh. Instead use the dominant preparations which will be presented on the following pages.

The excerpt below, from the third movement of Schumann's Fantasy in C major Op.17, shows a root position ii chord preceding a V - I progression at the end of a phrase. The voice leading in the highest notes does not conform to that described above. Instead the highest notes first descend by a tritone, F to B, and then resolve up by step to tonic.

Comments? Click here.