Subsidiary chord

In music and musical analysis, a subsidiary chord is an elaboration of a principal harmonic chord in a chord progression.

If the principal chord (X) is partially replaced by the subsidiary (Y), there are three possible positions - beginning, middle, and end - for the subsidiary:[1]


For example, a subsidiary chord in a modulation.

A subsidiary chord may be a chord with related function and/or sharing pitches, for example in E major, Cm (C-E-G) as a subsidiary for E (E-G-B), which share two of three pitches and are related as tonic parallel (vi) and tonic (I).

See also

Further reading

  • Van der Merwe (2005), p. 428.


  1. van der Merwe, Peter (2005). Roots of the Classical: The Popular Origins of Western Music, p.501. ISBN 0-19-816647-8.
  2. Becker, Julius (1845). A concise treatise on harmony, p.17. Ewer & Co.
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