basics with Do-along Dave

Sight-Singing Waypoints: Tonic, Dominant

All the practical music you will ever deal with uses the same two landmarks: tonic and dominant, a.k.a. “Tony and Dominic”. Once you have the domino-tonic relation clear in the ear and named, you find yourself making better sense in both your improv on breaks, reading, chord recognition in unwritten ensemble work, and composition. You can get Tony and Dominic set firm and working for you. My complete sight-singing self-study course, Noshvil Theory/Hear on Sight is available now, spiral bound. A free preview has also been posted at

It’s a matter of gutlevel familiarity, or ken.  1) You abstract them as a pair; 2) you use clear, simple tunes for context in which to recognize when they occur; and 3) you take the D-T Relation as your basic example of practical intervals and name them.

“Tony and Dominic”– the DT Relation– is where to start and devote early earwork to. The frequency intervals between them are 3:2 [7  frets] and 4:3 [5  frets] [higher:lower]. Dominant:tonic (dom’t uppermost) is among the 3:2 intervals (P5; plain fifth) in a scale: “Do you see what I see?

Now let tonic’ be uppermost: “… what I see?“” Tonic:dominant is a 4:3 interval (P4; plain fourth) in a scale. The low integers of these frequency interval ratios is the physical basis for the stability of these tonal functions and hence their wide usefulness as waypoints in the world’s musics.

The domino-tonic relation gives you two stable waypoint landmarks for navigating all practical music. The major-minor Hub completes a trio of waypoints. The Noshvil Theory course uses the Hub in a key signature augment or stand-in, called the scale ticket.

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