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5.6Cadence

5.6.Cadence*
Acadenceisanyplaceinapieceofmusicthathasthefeelofanendingpoint.Thiscanbeeitherastrong,
definitestoppingpointtheendofthepiece,forexample,ortheendofamovementoraversebutitalso
referstothe"temporaryrestingplace"pausesthatroundofftheendsofmusicalideaswithineachlarger
section.
Amusicalphrase,likeasentence,usuallycontainsanunderstandableidea,andthenpausesbeforethenext
ideastarts.Someofthesemusicalpausesaresimplytakeabreathtypepauses,anddon'treallygivean
"ending"feeling.Infact,likequestionsthatneedanswers,manyphrasesleavethelistenerwithastrong
expectationofhearingthenext,"answering",phrase.Otherphrases,though,endwithamoredefinite"we've
arrivedwhereweweregoing"feeling.Thecomposer'sexpertcontroloversuchfeelingsofexpectationand
arrivalareoneofthemainsourcesofthelistener'senjoymentofthemusic.
Likeastory,apieceofmusiccancometoanendbysimplystopping,butmostlistenerswillreacttosuch
abruptnesswithdissatisfaction:thestoryormusicsimply"stopped"insteadof"ending"properly.Amore
satisfyingending,inbothstoriesandmusic,isusuallyprovidedbygivingcluesthatanendiscoming,and
thenendinginacommonlyacceptedway.Storiesarealsodividedintoparagraphs,chapters,stanzas,
scenes,orepisodes,eachwiththeirownendings,tohelpuskeeptrackofthingsandunderstandwhatis
goingon.Musicalsogroupsphrasesandmotifsintoverses,choruses,sections,andmovements,markedoff
bystrongcadencestohelpuskeeptrackofthem.Ingoodstories,therearecluesintheplotandthepacing
intheWesterntradition,thechasegetsmoreexciting,charactersgoodandbadgetwhattheydeserve,the
inevitabletragedyoccurs,ormisunderstandingsgetresolvedthatsignalthattheendofthestoryisnearing.
Similarly,inmusictherearecluesthatsignaltothelistenerthattheendiscomingup.Thesecluesmaybein
theforminthedevelopmentofthemusicalideasinthemusic'stempo,texture,orrhythmiccomplexityin
thechordprogressioneveninthenumberandlengthofthephrases(Westernlistenersarefondofpowersof
two).Liketheendingofastory,anendinginmusicismoresatisfyingifitfollowscertaincustomsthatthe
listenerexpectstohear.Ifyouhavegrownuplisteningtoaparticularmusicaltradition,youwillautomatically
havetheseexpectationsforapieceofmusic,evenifyouarenotawareofhavingthem.Andlikethecustoms
forstorytelling,theseexpectationscanbedifferentindifferentmusicaltraditions.
Somethingsthatproduceafeelingofcadence
HarmonyInmostWesternandWesterninfluencedmusic(includingjazzand"world"
musics),harmonyisbyfarthemostimportantsignalofcadence.Oneofthemostfundamental"rules"of
themajorminorharmonysystemisthatmusicendsonthetonic.Atonalpieceofmusicwillalmost
certainlyendonthetonicchord,althoughindividualphrasesorsectionsmayendonadifferentchord
(thedominantisapopularchoice).Butacomposercannotjustthrowinatonicchordandexpectitto
soundlikeanendingtheharmonymust"leadupto"theendingandmakeitfeelinevitable(justasa
goodstorymakestheendingfeelinevitable,evenifit'sasurprise).Sothetermcadence,intonal
music,usuallyreferstothe"ending"chordplustheshortchordprogressionthatleduptoit.Thereare
manydifferenttermsinuseforthemostcommontonalcadencesyouwillfindthemostcommon
termsbelow.Some(butnotall)modalmusicsalsouseharmonytoindicatecadence,butthecadences

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usedcanbequitedifferentfromthoseintonalharmony.
MelodyInthemajor/minortradition,themelodywillnormallyendonsomenoteofthetonic
chordtriad,andamelodyendingonthetonicwillgiveastronger(morefinalsounding)cadencethan
oneendingonthethirdorfifthofthechord.Insomemodalmusics,themelodyplaysthemost
importantroleinthecadence.Likeascale,eachmodealsohasahomenote,wherethemelodyis
expectedtoend.Amodeoftenalsohasaformulathatthemelodyusuallyusestoarriveattheending
note.Forexample,itmaybetypicalofonemodetogotothefinalnotefromthenoteonewhole
tonebelowitwhereasinanothermodethepenultimatenotemaybeaminorthirdabovethefinalnote.
(Oramodemayhavemorethanonepossiblemelodiccadence,oritstypicalcadencemaybemore
complex.)
RhythmChangesintherhythm,abreakorpauseintherhythm,achangeinthetempo,oraslowing
oforpauseintheharmonicrhythmarealsocommonlyfoundatacadence.
TextureChangesinthetextureofthemusicalsooftenaccompanyacadence.Forexample,the
musicmaymomentarilyswitchfromharmonytounisonorfromcounterpointtoasimplerblock
chordhomophony.
FormSincecadencesmarkoffphrasesandsections,formandcadenceareverycloselyconnected,
andtheoverallarchitectureofapieceofmusicwilloftenindicatewherethenextcadenceisgoingtobe
everyeightmeasuresforacertaintypeofdance,forexample.(Whenyoulistentoapieceofmusic,
youactuallyexpectandlistenfortheseregularlyspacedcadences,atleastsubconsciously.An
accomplishedcomposermay"tease"youbyseemingtoleadtoacadenceintheexpectedplace,but
thendoingsomethingunexpectedinstead.)
Harmonicanalysis,form,andcadenceinWesternmusicarecloselyinterwovenintoacomplexsubjectthat
cantakeupanentirecourseatthecollegemusicmajorlevel.Complicatingmattersisthefactthatthereare
severalcompetingsystemsfornamingcadences.Thisintroductorycoursecannotgoverydeeplyintothis
subject,andsowillonlytouchonthecommontermsusedwhenreferringtocadences.Unfortunately,the
variousnamingsystemsmayusethesametermstomeandifferentthings,soevenalistofbasictermsisa
bitconfusing.
SomeTonalCadenceTerms
AuthenticAdominantchordfollowedbyatonicchord(VI,oroftenV7I).
CompleteCadencesameasauthenticcadence.
DeceptiveCadenceThisreferstotimesthatthemusicseemstoleaduptoacadence,butthen
doesn'tactuallylandontheexpectedtonic,andalsooftendoesnotbringtheexpectedpauseinthe
music.Adeceptivecadenceistypicallyinamajorkey,andisthedominantfollowedby
thesubmediant(Vvi).Thismeansthesubstitutedchordistherelativeminorofthetonicchord.
FalseCadenceSameasdeceptivecadence.
FullCloseSameasauthenticcadence.
HalfcadenceMayrefertoacadencethatendsonthedominantchord(V).Thistypeofcadenceis

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morecommonatpausetypecadencesthanatfullstopones.ORmayhavesamemeaningasplagal
cadence.
HalfcloseSameasplagalcadence.
ImperfectCadenceMayrefertoanauthentic(VI)cadenceinwhichthechordisnotinrootposition,
orthemelodydoesnotendonthetonic.ORmaymeanacadencethatendsonthedominantchord
(sameasonemeaningofhalfcadence).
InterruptedCadenceSameasdeceptivecadence.
PerfectCadenceSameasauthenticcadence.Asitsnamesuggests,thisisconsideredthestrongest,
mostfinalsoundingcadence.Somedonotconsideracadencetobecompletelyperfectunlessthe
melodyendsonthetonicandbothchords(VandI)areinrootposition.
PlagalCadenceAsubdominantchordfollowedbyatonicchord(IVI).Formanypeople,thiscadence
willbefamiliarasthe"Amen"chordsattheendofmanytraditionalhymns.
SemicadenceSamepossiblemeaningsashalfcadence.
Youcanlistentoafewsimplecadenceshere:PerfectCadence,PlagalCadence,Halfcadence,Deceptive
Cadence.Thefigurebelowalsoshowssomeverysimpleformsofsomecommoncadences.Thefirststepin
becomingcomfortablewithcadencesistostartidentifyingtheminmusicthatisveryfamiliartoyou.Findthe
pausesandstopsinthemusic.Doaharmonicanalysisofthelastfewchordsbeforeeachstop,andidentify
whattypeofcadenceitis.Thenseeifyoucanbegintorecognizethetypeofcadencejustbylisteningtothe
music.
Figure5.52.ExamplesofCommonCadences

(a)PerfectCadenceinCmajor

(b)PlagalCadenceinCmajor

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(c)DeceptiveCadenceinCmajor

Exercise5.6.1.(GotoSolution)
Identifythetypeofcadenceineachexcerpt.(Hint:Firstidentifythekeyandthendoaharmonicanalysisofthe
progression.
Figure5.53.

Note
Thankstoeveryonewhoparticipatedinthesurvey!Itwasveryusefultome,bothasa
researcherandasanauthor,togetabetterpictureofmyreaders'goalsandneeds.Ihope
tobeginupdatingthesurveyresultsmoduleinApril.Iwillalsosoonbeginmakingsomeof
thesuggestedadditions,andemailedcommentsarestillwelcomeasalways.

SolutionstoExercises
SolutiontoExercise5.6.1.(ReturntoExercise)
Figure5.54.

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Noticethatthehalfcadencelookslike(andinfactis)amodulationtothedominant.Inthisverycommon
progression,thedominantseventhofthedominant(whichrequiresanaccidental)makesthedominantfeel
likeaverystrongrestingpoint,andthepiecewillcontinueoninthedominantkeyforawhile,beforereturning
tothetonickey.Alsonoticetheaccidentalrequiredintheminorkeytomakethe(major)dominantchord.

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