What Is a Cadence?
Rivers, Creeks, Brooks, Cascades, Rapids, Waterfalls, all evoke scenes of water, flowing downstream, thanks to the forces of gravity and friction.
That is, until the water reaches a destination, either a Lake, Reservoir, or Ocean, and stops flowing downhill. We can evoke such imagery to find its parallel in music, because ...
… Music also has a characteristic flow to some sort of harmonic destination, or ending, with one or more interesting attractions along the way. A harmonic destination that affects or interrupts forward motion is called a cadence. Cadences make music more attractive to listeners, just as waterfalls and rapids attract photographers.
From this point on, most of our harmony exercises – and indeed, most phrases in actual music – will contain a cadence. Cadences are in some ways like waterfalls, which temporarily interrupt the mostly horizontal motion of the stream, though the actual current doesn't stop.
Each musical phrase ends with a cadence, and there are several sorts of cadences. In the most complete type, the closing chord FALLS on the metrical downbeat of the last bar, the accented part of the final measure. That was a Perfect Cadence.
Now listen to the cadence itself, which is just the last two chords and melodic tones of this phrase. Perfect cadence.
On the other hand, the final tonic chord in this next example is on the wrong beat, for a cadence. Because the last chord here does not occur on a downbeat, but on an upbeat, there is no cadential feeling here; the solid 'fall' to the tonic is missing. How does it sound to you …
… compared to the Perfect Cadence? [2-bars of ‘Birthday’ again] Perfect.
The perfect cadence always ends with the tonic or I chord falling on the downbeat, but it is the chord right before the end – the penultimate chord - which determines the category of cadence. Listen to the two possibilities
So, when the cadential formula 'falls' from V to I, we call it an Authentic Cadence, and when the closing proceeds from IV to I, a Plagal Cadence.
There are of course perfect cadences, and there are also imperfect cadences, as well as half cadences, deceptive cadences, etc., all of which will eventually be explained through the course of your studies.
Perhaps you've already reviewed the sample exercises from the 19th century textbooks linked in previous talks. If not, you will find links in the description.
Take the time to transcribe some or all of the examples found on pages 27-29 of this book, to give yourself a hands-on familiarity with how to do upcoming harmony exercises. (...)
Waterfall, Chris Luczkow: https://flic.kr/p/8xGeR5
Lake Superior, steveandtwyla : https://flic.kr/p/7M9Uo6
Grand River Rapids, Brian Desrosiers Photograph: https://flic.kr/p/bG96bn
Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode
Birthday Cake, Pete: https://flic.kr/p/7wovH2
The Happy Birthday to You song is out of copyright and therefore in the Public Domain.
Public Domain Mark: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/
HELPFUL REFERENCES AND LINKS
Jadassohn, Dr. Salomon. Elementary Principles of Harmony for School and Self-Instruction. Breitkopf and Hartel, 1895. A Public Domain work.
________. Manual of Harmony. Breitkopf and Hartel, 1890. A Public Domain work.
Internet Archive Link – must copy url and paste into browser – for download of [Elementary Principles]: https://archive.org/details/elementaryprinc00goog
Internet Archive Link – must copy url and paste into browser – for download of [Harmony]: https://archive.org/details/manualharmony00pasmgoog
Harmony in Music Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRXugeh7isc&list=PLr9RYCj11MSwV82yI5x6SbNxmG9CMhfOv
Fundamentals of Music Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr9RYCj11MSxs91JeTfDvKtilJnOWw6JP
Elements of Music Notation Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr9RYCj11MSycDV5jr07-Sl60ymZyadET
Piano Beginnings Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr9RYCj11MSxPncb7aKgf90hnckKuiEhb