In music, the submediant is the sixth tonal degree of the diatonic scale. It is so called because it is a third below the tonic, in contrast to the mediant being a third above the tonic. It is the mediant of the subdominant triad.

In music theory, the submediant chord is symbolized by the Roman numeral VI if it is major or vi if it is minor.

For example, in the C major scale (white keys on a piano, starting on C), the submediant is the note A; and the submediant chord is A-minor consisting of the notes A, C, and E. Therefore, Am is the vi chord in the C major scale. Further, in the A natural minor scale (same white keys, now starting on A), the submediant is the note F; and the submediant chord is F (or F-major) consisting of the notes F, A, and C. Therefore, F is the VI chord in the A (natural) minor scale.

The submediant function is easily explained in reference to jazz music, where it is used in the "ice cream change" or "blues for alice" progression, which moves from the tonic through the submediant on the way to the ubiquitous II-V-I Jazz sequence (part of the cycle of fifths). The progression's consistency is amplified by the submediant's fifth-relationship above the supertonic. This submediant role -- in which it essentially extends from the tonic as a way of "passing" to a subdominant (IV) or supertonic (II) harmony, is as common in popular and classical music as it is in jazz, or any other musical language related to Western European tonality.

"Submediant" also refers to a relationship of musical keys. For example, relative to the key of C major, the key of A major (or A minor) is the submediant. Modulation (change of key) to the submediant is relatively rare, compared with, say, modulation to the dominant, and gives a feeling of relaxation. Susan McClary says that modulation to the lowered submediant (in C: A♭) represents a dream-like state of escape.

In German theory derived from Hugo Riemann the submediant in major is considered the tonic parallel (US relative), Tp, and the minor the subdominant parallel, sP.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Submediant — Sub*me di*ant, n. (Mus.) The sixth tone of the scale; the under mediant, or third below the keynote; the superdominant. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • submediant — [sub΄mē′dē ənt] n. [ SUB + MEDIANT] the sixth tone of a diatonic scale; tone just above the dominant and below the subtonic; superdominant …   English World dictionary

  • submediant — Superdominant Su per*dom i*nant, n. (Mus.) The sixth tone of the scale; that next above the dominant; called also {submediant}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • submediant — n. (Music) 6th note in a major or minor scale; chord or key or harmony which is based on a submediant …   English contemporary dictionary

  • submediant — noun Date: 1806 the sixth tone of a major or minor scale …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • submediant — /sub mee dee euhnt/, n. Music. the sixth tone of a diatonic scale, being midway between the subdominant and the upper tonic. Also called superdominant. [1800 10; SUB + MEDIANT] * * * …   Universalium

  • submediant — noun The sixth note of a scale, shown as VI …   Wiktionary

  • submediant — англ. [сабми/диэнт] нижняя медианта (VI ступ.) …   Словарь иностранных музыкальных терминов

  • submediant — noun Music the sixth note of the diatonic scale of any key …   English new terms dictionary

  • submediant — sub·mediant …   English syllables

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