Tritone Substitution With Secondary Dominants.

Tritone Substitution With Secondary Dominants.

You can learn what tritone substitution is here: Tritone Substitution

We covered secondary dominants in the past here: Secondary Dominants

  1. V7/II

    Cmaj7 | A7 | Dm | G7

    Substituting the A7 with its tritone subst, gives you following progression:

    Cmaj7 | Eb7 | Dm | G7

  2. V7/III

    Cmaj7 | B7 | Em | G7

    Substituting the B7 with its tritone subst, gives you following progression:

    Cmaj7 | F7 | Em | G7

  3. V7/IV

    Cmaj7 | C7 | Fmaj7 | G7 ||

    Substituting the C7 with its tritone subst, gives you the following progression:

    Cmaj7 | Gb7 | Fmaj7 | G7 ||

  4. V7/V

    Cmaj7 | Am | D7 | G7

    Substituting the D7 with its tritone subst, gives you following progression:

    Cmaj7 | Am | Ab7 | G7

  5. V7/VI

    Cmaj7 | E7 | Am | Dm G7 ||

    Substituting the E7 with its tritone subst, gives you following progression:

    Cmaj7 | Bb7 | Am | Dm G7 ||

  6. V7/VII

    I added this here on the list, so you would see an example of the V7/VII and so you can play it through to hear its sound.
    However: the use of V7/VII is extremely rare.
    The F#7 also doesn’t really sound like a secondary dominant in the below example.

    The Bm7b5 (BDFA) usually serves as a substitution for G7 (GBDF), which makes the F#7 sound more like a passing chord from Fmaj7 to G7/Bm7b5 than as a secondary dominant.

    Cmaj7 | Fmaj7 | F#7 | Bm7b5

    Substituting the F#7 with its tritone substitute, would give you the following progression:

    Cmaj7 | Fmaj7 | C7 | Bm7b5

    You can tell by ear, just playing this above example, that it’s not “musically very useful”.
    It doesn’t really sound good. It’s also not going anywhere musically.
    That’s why you shouldn’t worry about learning this option, as it is not really a viable, musical-sounding option.

That narrows the list down to 5 options.


In case the above is new to you: experiment and have fun with this newfound knowledge.
This is advanced harmony only taught in the top-level music schools in the world.
Knowing about the above opens up new harmonic sounds and possibilities.

Secondary dominants are a great tool to use if you want to create stronger forward motion in your song.
Now you have many more colors available, knowing that you can substitute all your secondary dominants with the above substitutions.

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Leave a Comment

  1. John Says:

    Would be awesome to talk about what scales to play over them as well! For example, either phrygian dominant or mixolydian b13 over the tritone sub of V/ii.

    February 12th, 2021 at 4:06 pm
  2. John Says:

    The previous link I posted referred to secondary dominants only, not tritone subs of secondary dominants. I meant to say it would be nice to include what scales you can play over these tritone subs of secondary dominants, for example lydian dominant over V/ii (search “V of ii”)

    February 12th, 2021 at 4:11 pm