This article establishes an expanded theory of tonicization for harmonic progressions in rock music. While previous discussions of tonicization have largely focused on the role of the V chord, this theory allows for a much larger number of tonicizing chords, which may articulate important tonal events such as prolongations and cadences. Using diatonic position finding to aid the analyst in determining a chord’s status, the article offers five preference factors to identify the most likely triadic tonicizers. This leads to some general conclusions regarding tonicizing chords, modality, chord succession, and harmonic function. In demonstrating these concepts, four categories of tonicization are illustrated: primary diatonic, in which a tonicization employs only diatonic chords of the mode; primary chromatic, which occurs due to chromatic inflection or modal borrowing; secondary chromatic, in which a secondary triad is tonicized by a chromatic chord; and secondary diatonic, whereby a hierarchical relationship is established between relative tonics. The article concludes with an analysis of Neil Young’s “Down by the River” (1969), demonstrating how the concepts discussed can clarify large-scale tonal relations.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.