Tonic? Dominant?

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6: 14

Dominion – domain – dominant. Dominant!  Ah, for you music theory lovers, that word has a special meaning!  I will try to put it into ‘layman’ terms.

Music has twelve different tones, and those tones make music, just like the letters of the alphabet make words.  We can play them on any instrument one by one and we get a melody – the tune of a song.  If we pile them up and play or sing them together, we have harmony. Chords make up harmony, and chords come in all shapes and sizes depending on how many tones you put together and what tones you use!

In a scale (do, re, mi…) we can build a chord on every tone.  (Hang in there – there’s a great lesson for us!)  The chord built on ‘do’ or the first pitch of the scale is labeled with a Roman numeral one (I), ‘re’ (II), ‘mi’ (III)… the fifth note, or ‘sol’ is labeled (V) and is called…the Dominant chord!  There it is – Dominant, but why?  To be honest, until today, I wasn’t quite sure.  I mean, shouldn’t the first chord be the Dominant?  The (I) chord built on ‘do’ is called the Tonic.  Tonic?  Why Tonic?  Well, think of the (I) chord as home plate.  Every song you sing ends on the Tonic chord; if it didn’t,  the song wouldn’t feel complete.  Just sing Jesus Loves Me and end on the next to the last note.  It doesn’t feel finished and the chord for that next to the last note pushes your ear to hear the last note.  Guess what – the next to the last note has a Dominant chord, and the last note it Tonic. The Dominant pushes to the Tonic EVERY TIME!  AND if a Dominant chord goes anywhere but to the Tonic at the end of a song, you have what we call a Deceptive CadenceOOOOH!

SP14.3a

Here’s the lesson.  There are so many natural laws in this world.  (I succumbed to one of them in my last blog: gravity!) Music has laws as well. Even if you don’t know or understand the law, your ear naturally reacts to those laws.  That Dominant chord has dominion over the harmony set forth.  It dominates the path which the music will take.  It pushes your ear to want to go home to Tonic!  (What a wonderful name for home: Tonic!!)

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6: 14) Sin does not have to dominate my life!  It doesn’t have to push me to the wrong ending.  When I was not saved, it was true – I was under the natural law of sin.  I naturally was bent to sin and was pushed to its desired end, but no more!  I am now under grace!  My life is a Deceptive Cadence in Satan’s eyes.  He had a plan, a dominating force, but that force was conquered at the cross!! Does that mean I never sin?  Don’t I wish!  It does mean that I don’t have to sin – there’s a big difference!  I have the power to ‘just say no’ because of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Woo! Woo!  That is a very freeing bit of information!  It’s not easy – in fact, it is impossible APART from the GRACE of God, but… ye are not under the law, but under grace!

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