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In Western musical theory, a harmonic cadence (Latin cadentia, "a falling") is a progression of (at least) two chords that concludes a phrase, section, or piece of music. A rhythmic cadence is a characteristic rhythmic pattern indicating the end of a phrase. Cadences give phrases a distinctive ending that can, for example, indicate to the listener whether the piece is to be continued or concluded. An analogy may be made with punctuation, with some weaker cadences acting as commas that indicate a pause or momentary rest, while a stronger cadence acts as a period that signals the end of the phrase or sentence. A cadence is labeled more or less "weak" or "strong" depending on the sense of finality it creates. While cadences are usually classified by specific chord or melodic progressions, the use of such progressions does not necessarily constitute a cadence—there 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.
Classification of cadences in common practice tonality with examples
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:
An inverted cadence is one in which the last chord is inverted. It may be restricted only to the perfect and imperfect cadence or only to the perfect cadence, or it may be applied to cadences of all types.
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 (see also feminine ending). 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. Susan McClary has written extensively on the gendered terminology of music and music theory in her book Feminine Endings. The Society for Music Theory endorses the terms "metrically accented" and "metrically unaccented cadence" in their Guidelines for Nonsexist Language.
Likewise, cadences can be classified as either transient (a pause, like a comma in a sentence, that implies the piece will go on after a brief lift in the voice) or terminal (more conclusive, like a period, that implies 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 usually PAC or sometimes plagal cadences.
Cadences 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. This is also in contrary motion. In three voices the third voice often adds a falling fifth creating a cadence similar to the authentic cadence in tonal music.
According to Carl Dahlhaus, "as late as the 13th century the half step was experienced as a problematic interval not easily understood, as the irrational remainder between the perfect fourth and the ditone:
In a melodic half step, "no tendency was perceived of the lower tone toward the upper, or of the upper toward the lower. The second tone was not taken to be the 'goal' of the first. Instead, the half step was avoided in clausulas because 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. A pause in one voice may also be used as a weak interior cadence.
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 (a perfect fifth, a sixth, or a third).
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 chord); although supertonic and subtonic trills had been common in the Baroque era, they usually lasted only a half measure (e.g., the subtonic trill in the final cadence from Bach's Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140). 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. 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. These include the ii-V-I turnaround and its variation the backdoor progression, though all turnarounds may be used at any point and not solely before the tonic.
Popular music uses the cadences of the common practice period and jazz, with the same or different voice leading. Popular cadences with borrowed chord progressions include the backdoor progression, ♭II-I, ♭III-I, and ♭VI-I.
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, both demonstrated in the Bach example pictured.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cadence". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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Beethoven, L. van
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Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society