[Smt-talk] Cadence Compendium

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Mon Dec 3 11:26:30 PST 2012

Dear Peter,

Thank you very much for your wonderful input. I knew about your ongoing project since 2011, and I cannot wait to see it published!

I think you are being too modest when you are saying that this compendium is not meant to neutralize the current labyrinth of cadential concepts. I believe it will exceed your expectations in this regard by opening a wide historical and theoretical perspective before us that will make it more difficult to: 

1) Sever a concept off a particular period and announce it as non-existing therein (i.e. plagal cadence does not exist in classical style);  

2) To trim off the branches of a concept and raise the limb as the only valid model in a particular style (i.e. in classical style only root to root IAC exist but IAC with inverted chords do not). 

I believe that a great number of musicians hear as cadences not only harmonic endings that connect root to root chords, but also various closures that involve inverted chords and a passing motion in the bass. I also believe that a harmonic cadence may be implied over a pedal point – the most unequivocal form of functional prolongation. My perception of harmonic closures is based not only on a commitment to follow an historical tradition, but also on the conviction that: 

a) the main cadential types possess some intrinsic features that remain constant throughout different historical periods within the common practice era; and

b) the weakening of a harmonic progression does not automatically deprive it of cadential potential.  

Will your compendium address the half cadence and the imperfect cadence? 

You have reviewed tons of reference at this point and that is very impressive! May I suggest N. Rimsky-Korsakov’s book of harmony as additional reference? It is valuable in this regard that a historical figure whose works remain exemplary today gives examples of plagal cadences and shows how chromatic chords (particularly chords with an augmented sixth) affect the plagal resolutions to the tonic. He also shows how plagal cadence works in harmonic major.

With best regards,


Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
School of Music
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666

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