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The iii chord is forever alone.

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(@neztok)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 152
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I read that in theory the iii chord is considered useless. True/Why?


   
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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

Not useless.

The iii can sound a fair bit like I (because they share two tones) and like V (because they share two tones), so it makes a decent substitute if you want to plug a minor sound in for part of a major or dominant chord. It can lead naturally to vi, because the roots make up a v-i cadence. And for a typical bass line progression, I-III-IV-V is often used: for examples, see "Fun Fun Fun" (Beach Boys), "Crocodile Rock" etc.

Functionally, the iii has no tension, so it doesn't "drive" a chord progression. But neither does any other non-dominant chord - so it's only useless if you're thinking in terms of a dominant-tonic analysis (and in that line of thinking, all the other chords are 'useless' too!).

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@neztok)
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Yeah, it came from the kids on Reddit. I usually don't listen to them, but they were ganging up on me. Thanks.


   
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(@neztok)
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I just thought of something off the top of my head. Is there a chord that you can substitute for VII Dim that would lead to the III. If so, is it common? Examples?


   
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(@fretsource)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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I just thought of something off the top of my head. Is there a chord that you can substitute for VII Dim that would lead to the III. If so, is it common? Examples?

Yes, the secondary dominant - V7/iii. In the key of C that would be B7 - Em. Leonard Cohen does exactly that in Hallelujah "... the baffled king com (B7) posing Halle (Em) lujah."


   
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