[Smt-talk] Plagal cadence

Richard Porterfield porterfr at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 26 08:27:31 PDT 2009

Thanks to Cristobal for the reminder of Meier's masterful treatment and examples. I quibble with Cristobal's assertion "the bass move D-A under [the deuterus cadential duet] ... is not the most usual one:" in my experience of 16c music it is indeed most usual, especially at the conclusion of pieces (the focus of Cristobal's original question), nor does Meier say anything to the contrary. Meier demonstrates some other possibilities, but it is precisely such D-A-E bass motion as I described that he shows in a 4-part example with the comment "Of course, cadences of this sort are used very frequently, and they often seem peculiar to final cadences in mi" (Meier, The Modes, 98).  
Meier limits his discussion of possible cadential strategies to full textures; we should also consider the not-uncommon reduction of voices at the moment of contrapuntal resolution (6-8 or 3-1) in deuterus, such as at the conclusion of Josquin's motet Magnum es tu whose secunda pars is transcribed as No. 90, "Tu pauperum refugium" in Apel and Davidson, Historical Anthology of Music, vol. 1. There the bass avoids D-E parallel octaves with the cantus by resting on the cadential downbeat; after the rest it re-enters on E, then moves to A and back to E again, for what we now call a plagal cadence. 

Best regards, 

Richard Porterfield

Mannes, CUNY GC

porterfr at hotmail.com 


Richard Porterfield wrote:
I do not know examples of 16th-century deuterus-mode pieces ending with the bass sustaining ^4 below the tenor. Clearly this is normal for the moment of cadence, but by the end the bass usually gets to the unison or octave below that structural voice. If anyone could give an example of this at the very end of a piece (the end of a prima pars doesn't count) I'd be grateful.

Cristobal Garcia-Gallardo answered: 
The bass move D-A under the usual major 6th-octave intervallic progression (F-E in the tenor against D-E in the cantus) is just one of the possible ways to fill the four-voice texture, and not the most usual one. Bernhard Meier deals with this at some length in The Modes of Classical Vocal Polyphony (p. 96-99). He also mentions some examples of works ending this particular way (p. 98, footnote 19).  
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