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Cadence (music)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Western musical theory, a cadence (Latin

cadentia, "a falling") is "a melodic or harmonic
configuration that creates a sense of resolution
[finality or pause]."[1] A harmonic cadence is a
progression of (at least) two chords that concludes a
phrase, section, or piece of music.[2] A rhythmic
cadence is a characteristic rhythmic pattern that
indicates the end of a phrase.[3] A cadence is labeled
more or less "weak" or "strong" depending on its
sense of finality. While cadences are usually
classified by specific chord or melodic progressions,
the use of such progressions does not necessarily
constitute a cadencethere must be a sense of
closure, as at the end of a phrase. Harmonic rhythm
plays an important part in determining where a
cadence occurs.

Perfect authentic cadence (VI with roots in

the bass parts and tonic in the highest voice of
the final chord): iiVI progression in C
major, four-part harmony (Benward & Saker
2003, p.90.). Play

Cadences are strong indicators of the tonic or central pitch of a passage or piece.[1] Edward
Lowinsky proposed that the cadence was the "cradle of tonality."[4]

1 Classification of cadences in common practice tonality with examples
1.1 Authentic cadence
1.2 Half cadence
1.3 Plagal cadence
1.4 Interrupted (deceptive) cadence
1.5 Inverted cadence
1.6 Upper leading-tone cadence
1.7 Rhythmic classifications
1.8 Picardy Cadence
2 In medieval and Renaissance polyphony
3 Classical cadential trill
4 Jazz
5 Popular music
6 Rhythmic cadence
7 See also

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8 References

Classification of cadences in common practice tonality with

In music of the common practice period, cadences are divided into
four types according to their harmonic progression: authentic,
plagal, half, and deceptive. Typically, phrases end on authentic or
half cadences, and the terms plagal and deceptive refer to motion
that avoids or follows a phrase-ending cadence. Each cadence can
be described using the Roman numeral system of naming chords:

Authentic cadence

PAC (VI progression in C

Play )

Authentic (also closed, standard or perfect) cadence: V to

I (or VI). A seventh above the root is often added to create
V7. The The Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and
Musicians says, "This cadence is a microcosm of the tonal
IAC (VI progression in C
system, and is the most direct means of establishing a pitch
Play )
as tonic. It is virtually obligatory as the final structural
cadence of a tonal work."[1] The phrase perfect cadence is
sometimes used as a synonym for authentic cadence, but can
also have a more precise meaning depending on the chord
Perfect authentic cadence: The chords are in root
Evaded cadence (VV42I6
position; that is, the roots of both chords are in the
progression in C Play )
bass, and the tonic (the same pitch as root of the final
chord) is in the highest voice of the final chord. A
perfect cadence is a progression from V to I in major
keys, and V to i in minor keys. This is generally the
strongest type of cadence and often found at
structurally defining moments.[6] "This strong
cadence achieves complete harmonic and melodic
Beethoven Piano Sonata, Op.
closure."[7] It has to be noted that Beethoven in
13 perfect authentic cadence.[5]
particular gets so much mileage out of this cadence
as for it to become one of his most characteristic and
recognizable musical thumbprints. The Diabelli
Variations and the C major climax of the slow movement of the Opus 132 String Quartet
- even though it is described as being in Lydian mode on F - are two powerful examples.
Imperfect authentic cadence (IAC), best divided into three separate categories:

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1. Root position IAC: similar to a PAC, but the highest voice is not the tonic ("do"
or the root of the tonic chord).
2. Inverted IAC: similar to a PAC, but one or both chords is inverted.
3. Leading tone IAC: the V chord is replaced with the viio/subV chord (but the
cadence still ends on I).

Evaded cadence: V2 to I .[8] Because the seventh must fall step wise, it forces the
cadence to resolve to the less stable first inversion chord. Usually to achieve this a root

position V changes to a V2 right before resolution, thereby "evading" the cadence.

Half cadence
Half cadence (imperfect cadence or semicadence): any cadence ending on V, whether
preceded by V of V, ii, vi, IV, or Ior any other chord. Because it sounds incomplete or
suspended, the half cadence is considered a weak cadence that calls for continuation.[11]
Phrygian half-cadence: a half cadence iv6V in minor, so named because the semitonal
motion in the bass (sixth degree to fifth degree) resembles the semitone heard in the iiI
of the 15th-century cadence in the Phrygian mode. Due to its being a survival from
modal Renaissance harmony this cadence gives an archaic sound, especially when
preceded by v (viv6V).[12] A characteristic gesture in Baroque music, the Phrygian
cadence often concluded a slow movement immediately followed by a faster one.[13]
With the addition of motion in the upper part to the sixth degree, it becomes the Landini
Lydian cadence: The Lydian half-cadence is similar to the Phrygian-half, involving
iv6-V in the minor, the difference is that in the Lydian-half, the whole iv6 is raised by a
half-step. In other words, the Phrygian-half begins with the first chord built on scale
degree P4 and the Lydian-half is built on the scale-degree 4+ (augmented 4th). The
Phrygian cadence ends with the movement from iv6 V of bass (3rd of the chord/scale
degree 6m) down by semi-tone bass (the root of the chord/scale degree P5), fifth
(scale-degree P1) up by whole-tone fifth (scale-degree 2M), and the root (scale
degree P4) up by whole-step octave (scale-degree P5); the Lydian half-cadence ends
with the movement from a iv6 (raised by half step) V of bass (3rd of the chord/scaledegree 6M) down by whole-tone bass (the root of the chord/scale-degree P5), fifth
(scale degree 1+) up by half-step fifth (scale-degree 2M), and the root (scale degree
4+) up by half-step octave (scale-degree P5).
Burgundian cadences: Became popular in Burgundian music. Note the parallel fourths
between the upper voices.[9]
Plagal half-cadence: The rare plagal half-cadence involves a IIV progression. Like an
authentic cadence (VI), the plagal half-cadence involves a descending fifth (or, by inversion,
an ascending fourth).[14] The plagal half-cadence is a weak cadence, ordinarily at the ending
of an antecedent phrase, after which a consequent phrase commences. One example of this
use is in Auld Lang Syne. But in one very unusual occurrence the end of the exposition of

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the first movement of Brahms' Clarinet Trio, Op. 114it is

used to complete not just a musical phrase but an entire
section of a movement.[15]

Half cadence (IV progression

in C major Play )

Phrygian half cadence

(iv6iv6V progression in c
minor Play )

Phrygian cadence (voiceleading) on E[1] Play

Lydian cadence (voiceleading) on E[1] Play )

Burgundian cadence on G[9]

Play )

Phrygian cadence in Bach's

Schau Lieber Gott Chorale.[10]

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Plagal cadence
Plagal cadence: IV to I, also known as the "Amen Cadence"
because of its frequent setting to the text "Amen" in hymns.
William Caplin disputes the existence of plagal cadences in
music of the classical era: "An examination of the classical
repertory reveals that such a cadence rarely exists. ...
Inasmuch as the progression IVI cannot confirm a tonality
Plagal cadence (IVI
(it lacks any leading-tone resolution), it cannot articulate
progression in C Play )
formal closure .... Rather, this progression is normally part of
a tonic prolongation serving a variety of formal functions
not, however a cadential one. Most examples of plagal cadences given in textbooks actually
represent a postcadential codetta function: that is, the IVI progression follows an authentic
cadence but does not itself create genuine cadential closure."[16] It may be noticed that the
plagal cadence, "leaves open the possibility of interpretation as VIV" rather than IIVI.[11]
The term "minor plagal cadence" is used to refer to the ivI progression. Sometimes a
combination of major and minor plagal cadence is used (IVivI).

Interrupted (deceptive) cadence

Interrupted cadence: V to vi. The most important irregular
resolution,[17] most commonly V7vi (or V7VI) in major
or V7VI in minor.[17][18] This is considered a weak cadence
because of the "hanging" (suspended) feel it invokes. One of
the most famous examples is in the coda of the Passacaglia
and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 by Johann Sebastian Bach:
Bach repeats a chord sequence ending with V over and over,
leading the listener to expect resolution to Ionly to be
thrown off completely with a fermata on a striking, D-flat
major chord in first inversion (II, which is the Neapolitan
chord). After a pregnant pause, the "real" ending
commences. At the beginning of the final movement of
Gustav Mahler's 9th Symphony, the listener hears a string
of many deceptive cadences progressing from V to IV6.

Deceptive cadence (Vvi

progression in C Play ).

Deceptive cadence in Mozart's

Sonata in C Major, K. 330,
second movement.[11] Play

One of the most striking uses of this cadence is in the A minor section at the end of the exposition
in the First Movement of Brahms' Third Symphony. The music progresses to an implied E minor
dominant (B7) with a rapid chromatic scale upwards, but suddenly sidesteps to C major. The same
device is used again in the recapitulation; this time the sidestep isas one would expectto F

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major, the tonic key of the whole Symphony.

Inverted cadence
An inverted cadence (also called a medial cadence) inverts the last chord. It may be restricted only
to the perfect and imperfect cadence, or only to the perfect cadence, or it may apply to cadences of
all types.[19] To distinguish them from this form, the other, more common forms of cadences listed
above are known as "radical cadences."[20]

Upper leading-tone cadence

For example, in the image (right), the final three written notes in
the upper voice are BCD, in which case a trill on C produces D.
However, convention implied a C, and a cadential trill of a whole
tone on the second to last note produces D/E, the upper
leading-tone of D. Presumably the debate was over whether to
use CD or CD for the trill.
Cadence featuring an upper
leading tone from a well
known 16th-century
lamentation, the debate over
which was documented in
Rome c.1540.[21] Play
upper-leading tone trill
Play diatonic trill

Rhythmic classifications
Cadences can also be classified by their rhythmic position. A "metrically accented cadence" occurs
on a strong position, typically the downbeat of a measure. A "metrically unaccented cadence"
occurs in a metrically weak position, for instance, after a long appoggiatura. Metrically accented
cadences are considered stronger and are generally of greater structural significance. In the past the
terms "masculine" and "feminine" were sometimes used to describe rhythmically "strong" or
"weak" cadences, but this terminology is no longer acceptable to some.[22] Susan McClary has
written extensively on the gendered terminology of music and music theory in her book Feminine
Likewise, cadences can be classified as either transient (a pause, like a comma in a linguistic
sentence, that implies the piece will continue after a brief lift in the voice) or terminal (more
conclusive, like a period, that indicates the sentence is done). Most transient cadences are half
cadences (which stop momentarily on a dominant chord), though IAC or deceptive cadences are
also usually transient, as well as Phrygian cadences. Terminal cadences are normally perfect, and

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rarely plagal.

Metrically unaccented
cadence (IV6/4V7I
progression in C Play ).
Final chord postponed to fall
on a weak beat.[24]

Bar-line shift's effect on

metric accent: first two lines
vs. second two lines[25]
Play .

Picardy Cadence
A picardy cadence is a harmonic device that originated in Western music in the Renaissance era. It
refers to the use of a major chord of the tonic at the end of a musical section that is either modal or
in a minor key.

In medieval and Renaissance polyphony

Medieval and Renaissance cadences are based upon dyads rather
than chords. The first theoretical mention of cadences comes from
Guido of Arezzo's description of the occursus in his Micrologus,
where he uses the term to mean where the two lines of a two-part
polyphonic phrase end in a unison.
A clausula or clausula vera ("true close") is a dyadic or
intervallic, rather than chordal or harmonic, cadence. In a clausula
vera two voices approach an octave or unison through stepwise
motion.[26] This is also in contrary motion. In three voices the
third voice often adds a falling fifth creating a cadence similar to

Clausula vera cadence from

Lassus's Beatus homo, mm.
3435[26] Play ). The half
step in one voice and the
whole step in the other.

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the authentic cadence in tonal music.[26]

According to Carl Dahlhaus, "as late as the 13th century the half
step was experienced as a problematic interval not easily
understood, as the remainder between the perfect fourth and the

Three voice clausula vera

from Palestrina's Magnificat
Secundi Toni: Deposuit
potentes, mm. 2728[26]
Play .

In a melodic half step, listeners of the time perceived no tendency

of the lower tone toward the upper, or the upper toward the lower.
The second tone was not the 'goal' of the first. Instead, musicians
avoided the half step in clausulas because, to their ears, it lacked clarity as an interval. Beginning in
the 13th century cadences begin to require motion in one voice by half step and the other a whole
step in contrary motion. In the 14th century, an ornamentation of this, with an escape tone, became
known as the Landini cadence, after the composer, who used them prodigiously.
A plagal cadence was found occasionally as an interior cadence, with
the lower voice in two-part writing moving up a perfect fifth or down a
perfect fourth.[28] A pause in one voice may also be used as a weak
interior cadence.[28]
Renaissance plagal
cadence Play ).

Pause as weak interior cadence from Lassus's Qui vult venire

post me, mm. 35 Play .

In counterpoint an evaded cadence is one where one of the voices in a

suspension does not resolve as expected, and the voices together resolved
to a consonance other than an octave or unison[29] (a perfect fifth, a sixth,
or a third).

Clausula vera for

comparison Play ).

Classical cadential trill

In the Classical period, composers often drew out the authentic cadences at the ends of sections; the
cadence's dominant chord might take up a measure or two, especially if it contained the resolution
of a suspension remaining from the chord preceding the dominant. During these two measures, the
solo instrument (in a concerto) often played a trill on the supertonic (the fifth of the dominant

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chord); although supertonic and subtonic trills had been common in the Baroque era, they usually
lasted only a half measure (e.g., the supertonic trill in the final cadence from Bach's Wachet auf,
ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140). Play Extended cadential trills were by far most frequent in
Mozart's music, and although they were also found in early Romantic music, their use was
restricted chiefly to piano concerti (and to a lesser extent, violin concerti) because they were most
easily played and most effective on the piano and violin; the cadential trill and resolution would be
generally followed by an orchestral coda. Beethoven was a good example of this, limiting it almost
entirely to his concerti, and most other Romantic composers including Chopin and Schumann
followed suit; Schubert, who never wrote concerti, hardly used it at all (the Adagio and Rondo
Concertante D. 487, a chamber work, being one prominent exception). At the other end of the
spectrum, even Mozart rarely used the trill in symphonies. Because the music generally became
louder and more dramatic leading up to it, a cadence was used for climactic effect, and was often
embellished by Romantic composers. Later on in the Romantic era, however, other dramatic
virtuosic movements were often used to close sections instead.

In jazz a cadence is often referred to as a turnaround, chord
progressions that lead back and resolve to the tonic (for
example, the ii-V-I turnaround). Turnarounds may be used at
any point and not solely before the tonic.
Half-step cadences are common in jazz if not clich.[31] For
example, the ascending diminished seventh chord half-step
cadence, whichusing a secondary diminished seventh
chordcreates momentum between two chords a major second
apart (with the diminished seventh in between).[30] The
descending diminished seventh chord half-step cadence is
assisted by two common tones.[30]

Ascending diminished seventh

chord half-step cadence on C.[30]

Descending diminished seventh

chord half-step cadence on C.[30]

Popular music
Popular music uses the cadences of the common practice period and jazz, with the same or different
voice leading.

Rhythmic cadence

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Rhythmic cadences often feature a final note longer than the

prevailing note values and this often follows a characteristic
rhythmic pattern repeated at the end of the phrase,[3] both
demonstrated in the Bach example pictured.

See also

Rhythmic cadence at the end of the

first phrase from Bach's Brandenburg
Concerto no. 3 in G Major, BMV
1048, I, m. 12. Play with pitches
or Play with unpitched percussion.

Andalusian cadence
Approach chord
Corelli cadence
Drum cadence
English cadence
Lament bass
List of Caribbean music genres: cadence-lypso and cadence rampa
Picardy third
VIVI turnaround
VIIV7 cadence

1. Don Michael Randel (1999). The Harvard
Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians, p.
105-106. ISBN 0-674-00084-6.
2. Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory
and Practice, Vol. I, p. 359. 7th ed. ISBN
3. Benward & Saker (2003). p. 91.
4. Judd, Cristle Collins (1998). "Introduction:
Analyzing Early Music", Tonal Structures of
Early Music,. (ed. Judd). New York: Garland
Publishing. ISBN 0-8153-2388-3.
5. White, John D. (1976). The Analysis of Music,
p.34. ISBN 0-13-033233-X.
6. Thomas Benjamin, Johann Sebastian Bach
(2003). The Craft of Tonal Counterpoint, p.284.
ISBN 0-415-94391-4.
7. Caplin, William E. (2000). Classical Form: A
Theory of Formal Functions for the
Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and
Beethoven, p.51. ISBN 0-19-514399-X.

8. Darcy and Hepokoski (2006). Elements of

Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and
Deformations in the Late-Eighteenth-Century
Sonata, p.. ISBN 0-19-514640-9. "the
unexpected motion of a cadential dominant
chord to a I6 (instead of the normatively
cadential I)"
9. White (1976), p.129-130.
10. White (1976), p.38.
11. Jonas, Oswald (1982). Introduction to the
Theory of Heinrich Schenker (1934: Das Wesen
des musikalischen Kunstwerks: Eine
Einfhrung in Die Lehre Heinrich Schenkers),
p. 24. Trans. John Rothgeb. ISBN
12. Finn Egeland Hansen (2006). Layers of musical
meaning, p.208. ISBN 87-635-0424-3.
13. Randel, Don Michael (2003). The Harvard
Dictionary of Music, p. 130. ISBN

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14. Harrison, Daniel (1994). Harmonic Function in

Chromatic Music: A Renewed Dualist Theory
and an Account of Its Precedents. University of
Chicago Press. p. 29. ISBN 0226318087.
15. Notley, Margaret (2005). "Plagal Harmony as
Other: Asymmetrical Dualism and Instrumental
Music by Brahms". The Journal of Musicology.
22 (1): 114130.
16. Caplin, William E. (1998). Classical Form: A
Theory of Formal Functions for the
Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart and
Beethoven. Oxford University Press. pp. 4345.
ISBN 0-19-510480-3.
17. Foote, Arthur (2007). Modern Harmony in its
Theory and Practice, p. 93. ISBN
18. Owen, Harold (2000). Music Theory Resource
Book, p.132. ISBN 0-19-511539-2.
19. Kennedy, Michael, ed. (2004). The Concise
Oxford Dictionary of Music, p.116. ISBN
20. "Medial cadence
Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online.
Oxford University Press. Web. 23 Jul. 2013.
21. Berger, Karol (1987). Musica Ficta: Theories
of Accidental Inflections in Vocal Polyphony
from Marchetto da Padova to Gioseffo Zarlino,
p. 148. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 0-521-54338-X.


22. Society for Music Theory (1996-06-06).

"Guidelines for Nonsexist Language". Western
Michigan University. Retrieved 2008-07-19.
23. McClary, Susan (2002). Feminism and Music.
University of Minnesota Press.
ISBN 0-8166-4189-7.
24. Apel, Willi (1970). Harvard Dictionary of
Music. cited in McClary, Susan (2002).
Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and
Sexuality, p.9. ISBN 0-8166-4189-7.
25. Newman, William S. (1995). Beethoven on
Beethoven: Playing His Piano Music His Way,
p.17071. ISBN 0-393-30719-0.
26. Benward & Saker (2009). Music in Theory and
Practice: Volume II, p. 13. Eighth Edition.
ISBN 978-0-07-310188-0.
27. Dahlhaus, Carl (1990). Studies in the Origin of
Harmonic Tonality. trans. Robert O.
Gjerdingen. Princeton University Press.
ISBN 0-691-09135-8.
28. Benward & Saker (2009), p. 14.
29. Schubert, Peter (1999). Modal Counterpoint,
Renaissance Style, p.132. ISBN 0-19-510912-0.
30. Richard Lawn, Jeffrey L. Hellmer (1996). Jazz:
Theory and Practice, p.97-98. ISBN
31. Norman Carey (Spring, 2002). Untitled review:
Harmonic Experience by W. A. Mathieu, p.125.
Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp.

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