Among the three primary tonal functions described in modern theory textbooks, the pre-dominant has the highest number of representative chords. We posit that one unifying feature of the pre-dominant function is its attraction to V, and the experiment reported here investigates factors that may contribute to this perception. Participants were junior/senior music majors, freshman music majors, and people from the general population recruited on In each trial, four Shepard-tone sounds in the key of C were presented: 1) the tonic note, 2) one of 31 different chords, 3) the dominant triad, and 4) the tonic note. Participants rated the strength of attraction between the second and third chords. Across all individuals, diatonic and chromatic pre-dominant chords were rated significantly higher than non-pre-dominant chords and bridge chords. Further, music theory training moderated this relationship, with individuals with more theory training rating pre-dominant chords as being more attracted to the dominant. A final data analysis modeled the role of empirical features of the chords preceding the V chord, finding that chords with roots moving to V down by fifth, chords with less acoustical roughness, and chords with more semitones adjacent to V were all significant predictors of attraction ratings.

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