[Smt-talk] Half cadences

Caleb Mutch cmm2209 at columbia.edu
Tue Dec 4 09:23:12 PST 2012

Dear Frank, David, and Collective Wisdom,

Thanks, David, for the reference to Keller's treatise.  It's quite a bit 
earlier than I would have guessed!  May I broaden the inquiry and ask 
about the earliest use of the cognate term "Halbschluss/halbe Cadenz"?  
The oldest treatise I've found to use that term is Kirnberger's /Kunst/ 
(1776), vol. 1, p. 96, but it seems to me that there's likely an earlier 
usage than that.

On a side note, the concept of a cadence that stops on the penultimate 
chord goes back quite a ways.  Conrad Matthaei describes two kinds of 
"imperfect cadences" (/clausulae imperfectae/), the first of which "in 
der penultima stehen bleiben," and goes on to three examples of C major 
triads progressing to G major triads (/Kurtzer doch ausfuehrlicher 
Bericht von den M//odis musicis/ [1652], p. 8).

I, too, look forward to hearing other people's input on this!

Caleb Mutch
Ph.D. student
Columbia University

> Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2012 21:17:55 +0000
> From: David Lodewyckx <David.Lodewyckx at arts.kuleuven.be>
> To: "smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org"
> 	<smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org>
> Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Cadence compendium - Half cadence
> Dear Frank,
> dear colleagues,
> Being involved in Pieter's project since 2011, I have been studying a lot of contemporary sources with a specific focus on cadence typologies and cadence definitions. Unfortunately - if I'm right that you're looking for English/American terminology in particular - English sources weren't at the centre of my research yet. But they will be in the next few years...
> The earliest reference I can come up with, is Kollmann's 1796 "Essay on Musical Harmony", pp. 56-60.
> He considers the half cadence as one of the two species of the imperfect cadence, the other one being "the real imperfect cadence" (what we would call a 'plagal cadence' IV-I nowadays).
> His definition of the half cadence reads as follows:
> "The half cadence, or retrograde perfect cadence. It proceeds from the key note, both in major and minor, to its dominante; with the major or minor triad on the former, and the major triad only, or the chord of the seventh, on the latter."
> You might be interested in Keller's description (Rules for a Thorow-Bass, 1705) as well. Although he clearly doesn't write from a harmonic point of view, his conception of the 'half close' resembles our (broad) understanding of the (harmonic) function of a half cadence.
> Keller, p. 162: "There is another Cadence call'd the 7th and 6th Cadence, which is counted but a half Close, and if the 6th is flat, is never used for a final Close, because it does not satisfy the Ear, like as when the Bass falls a 5th, or rises a 4th, 'tis often introduced in a piece of Musick, as the Air may require; and when it ends any one part of a Piece, 'tis in order to begin a new Movement or Subject: The 7th and Sharp 6th may be used for a final Close, if the Design of the Composer requires it, but 'tis very rarely done."
> I'm really curious to see your and others' first source of the use of the term half cadence.
> Best regards,
> David
> David Lodewyckx
> Ph.D. student
> University of Leuven, Belgium

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