Cadence’s Explained

before you read our lesson on Cadences, please make sure you have a solid understanding of both chord progressions and intervals!

If you need to learn about Chord progressions click here!

If you need to learn about intervals first, click here!

Cadence is the term to use when describing an ‘end feeling’ within a piece of music. You may have noticed a cadence in a song before; perhaps at the end of a verse or post chorus. It tones the song down and allows the musicians to rebuild in a way; changing the dynamics of the music.

A good example is in Radiohead’s  – Paranoid Android; in between Jonny Greenwoods first guitar solo and the ‘rain down’ section.

Below is a list of Cadence terms (different progressions in which to end a phrase of music with)

Authentic (also known as Complete Cadence or Perfect Cadence) – A Dominant chord followed by a Tonic Chord (V – I or V7 – I)

Deceptive (also known as False Cadence or interrupted Cadence) – A Deceptive Cadence refers to when the music feels as though it is leading up to a Cadence, but doesn’t land on the tonic; and possibly not bring the expected pause. This type of Cadence is usually in a Major key with the progression of dominant to submediant (V-vi). In doing so, you replace your tonic (I Chord) with your relative minor (vi chord)

Half/Semi Cadence – A Half/Semi Cadence ends on the dominant chord (V); Often played as a ‘pause Cadence’.

Imperfect Cadence – An imperfect Cadence uses the standard (V – I) progression, however the tonic (I) is inverted!

Plagal Cadence – often used to end traditional hymns; the Plagal Cadence is a subdominant chord followed by a tonic chord (IV-I)


And there you have it!

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