Secondary Dominants

I personally don’t care for calling a ‘5 of 5’ chord a ‘2’... how do you guys like to work with secondary dominant chords?
How would you chart it? Worst case, I can call it a ‘2’... I feel like the theory in me just feels a tad bit disappointed going that route. Also, I would rather not write out the modulation for clutter sake...
I’m loving this app and was just curious how the group manages secondary dominants in general. Thanks for the feedback!


Staff member
Hopefully someone who's more schooled in theory than I am will chime in, but in the meantime... can you give an example of where the 2 doesn't seem right? Just looking for some context.
Sure thing... example... key of G... calling a 2 chord out to the band typically is an Am... which is perfect... I'm labeling that as 2m or 2-... however, there are times that we have a passing chord of A7 that is followed by a D... this is where the secondary dominant kicks in... the 3rd of A7 (C#) doesn't belong in the key of G... standard notation typically just adds an accidental there... I was just curious how most of you guys would chart that out... mainly so I'm using the "industry standard" method for my bands... also, for sake of the argument with a theory guru that may point out that 2 dominant 7 chords don't really exist lol... the whole concept was one of my major questions when I started music school... I grew up playing a slew of dom7 chords... ex. 5 of 5, 5 of 6, 2 5 1 of 6, 2 5 1 of 3... all progressions with notes outside the key..all of which are basically mini modulations...

I hope that clarifies my question... it really isn't a major deal... I can easily call it a 2dom7 or modulate temporarily to the 5... the app is very friendly with workarounds... I just wanted to throw out the question for advice from those who may have more experience with charts... thanks for the response...loving the app!


Staff member
All makes sense. My guess is that most people are not adding modulations or other details to keep it strictly theoretically correct in these scenarios, in part because — as you mentioned — it makes the chart more cluttered. I think keeping number-style charts concise is a good goal in general. Players can fill in the blanks (in their heads) to satisfy their understanding of what's going on with the theory. Some of this might make a theory guru squirm, but... it's all down to personal style.
I've found the common practice for a secondary dominant (or any non-diatonic chord for that matter) to simply label that chord as it appears relative to the key.

So in your example: The A Major in the key of G would just be written "2". If it's a dominant 7th chord it'd be "2 7" (with the 7 as a superscript, of course).


New Member
Standard practice is to label it as cmc2878 said above. All chords should be labeled relative to the key. For example, if in the key of C major and your progression is filled with non-diatonic chords like:
C E F Fm D7/F# G7 C
You'd chart that out as:
1 3 4 4m 2(7)/#4 5(7) 1

Those 7s in parentheses shouldn't have parenthesis. They should be superscripted. But I can't see a way to add superscript to forum posts! Even turning on BBCode option doesn't respond to superscript me.


New Member
1 3 4 4m 27/#4 57 1
Awesome! Now if only fractions were enabled. ;-)

[fraction]top, bottom[/fraction]

So we could show that 27 chord with the #4 in the bass as a fraction.