[Smt-talk] Plagal cadence

Peter Schubert, Prof. peter.schubert at mcgill.ca
Wed Apr 22 13:30:27 PDT 2009

In a most repertoire the final is in fact approached by the usual 6-8 motions you describe, but the final is often sustained in one voice. This is the coda-like thing that Burmeister calls the supplementum - he says these motions "make it very clear that the ending has arrived" (Rivera's translation, p. 151 ). The so-called plagal cadence generally results from the oblique motions that occur while the final is being sustained. Sometimes the final is only virtually sustained, with all voices moving, but the effect is the same.


What I'd like to know is where this term occurs for the first time. I don't recall seeing it in any treatise in the sixteenth century or even the early 17th. My bet is French treatises from the late 17th-early 18th cc.


Peter Schubert, Chair

Department of Music Research

Schulich School of Music

McGill University


From: smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org [mailto:smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of Cristóbal García
Sent: Saturday, April 18, 2009 2:34 PM
To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Subject: [Smt-talk] Plagal cadence


Dear List,


I would like to ask about plagal cadence in 16th (and 15th) century music. What is interesting to me is the fact that this cadence seems to escape the basic cadential process of this kind of music: the progress from an imperfect to a perfect consonance (usually major 6th to octave) in a two-voice framework (usually proceeding stepwise by contrary motion), typically preceded by a dissonance (the 7th as a suspension).


I have two main questions:


*	Does somebody know about theoretical explanations of the plagal cadence in 16th century music?


*	Was plagal cadence seen as conclusive enough by itself to end a work (since it is usually preceded by a more usual cadence)?


(I must say that I'm not an expert on 16th century music theory -though I´ve read on the subject-, so forgive me if these are too simple questions)




Cristobal Garcia-Gallardo

Conservatorio de Malaga (Spain)

garciagallardo at terra.es


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