[Smt-talk] Cadence on the wikipedia

Pieter Bergé Pieter.Berge at arts.kuleuven.be
Sun Dec 2 23:52:40 PST 2012

Dear Dimitar,
dear colleagues,

Personally, I was less surprised by the fact that the cadence-page in Wikipedia is a "mish-mash" indeed then by the idea that someone would expect this page to be a reliable source of information. In music theory, I cannot think of a concept that has created more "imbroglio's" then the whole history of opera buffa itself. For sure, it is a worthwhile enterprise to investigate if "cadences" could be integrated in one coherent system or typology, but given the fact that different cadence concepts - not to mention different cadence names - often emerge in completely different theoretical paradigms (both synchronically and diachronically) makes such an attempt practically impossible. Therefore, the first thing to do seems to map the different types and names of cadences in the history of music theory, to investigate how they were interpreted by different theorists, to reconstruct how they 'traveled' through Europe and beyond, how they were translated in ways that caused confusion, etcetera etcetera. 
At the University of Leuven, we currently try to assemble all cadence names/types that were used in the eighteenth century or that were introduced later with reference to that period (We hope to broaden our scope in a later phase). At this moment we have assembled over 400 cadence names (including terminology in English, French, German, Italian, and Latin). For each of the terms we try to present (1) a definition [but in the majority of cases it is a list of definitions!], (2) an overview of sources in which the specific term is used (in order to clarify the 'history' of each cadence name), (3) an anthology of the relevant excerpts from this sources themselves, (4) a list of examples from the repertoire.  By the end of 2013 we would like hope to publish our work on www.thecadencecompendium.com . From that moment onwards, our compendium will be open for additions, corrections and discussions by the collective wisdom. Also, around the same period, we plan to edit a concise paper version of the compendium, only including basic information on the different kinds of cadences, and mainly conceived as a manual for students and scholars. 
By compiling the cadence compendium, we obviously are not trying to neutralize the cadential labyrinth as it is, but only to fill it with signposts. To give you a more specific idea of our ambitions, I hereby include just one (very) provisional example.

Pieter Bergé 
University of Leuven, Belgium

Amen cadence
(see also: After cadence, Cadence plagale, Church cadence, Ecclesiastical cadence, Kirchenschluss, Plagal cadence, Plagal close, Plagalkadenz)

(1) a cadence in which the final tonic chord is preceded by a subdominant chord (or some corresponding harmony)
(2) a post-cadential extension in which the authentic cadence is followed by a subdominant chord (or some corresponding harmony) and a final tonic chord
(3) a post-cadential extension in which the authentic cadence is followed by a diminished 7th chord on the tonic (as a passing harmony) and a final tonic chord (major mode)
(4) a post-cadential extension in which an authentic cadence is followed by a bVI (as a passing harmony) and a final tonic chord (major mode)

[LOGI 1800] [MATH 1881] [GOOD 1889] [GOOD 1893] [HUGH 1903] [PARK 1908] [HUBB 1910 v.10] [GARD 1912] [HUGH 1912] [GEHR 1914] [HAAG 1916] [GARD 1918] [ST/SP 1996]

[LOGI 1800: 202] "In the great cadence, (.) the tonic is preceded by the subdominant. [Ex. 264]
This cadence is usually employed in sacred music, to the word Amen! It produces an effect calculated to create in the mind a feeling of reverence and awe."

[MATH 1881: 13] "The latter [the plagal cadence] is the well known 'Amen' cadence of church music. (...) This is also called the Church Cadence." 

[GOOD 1889: 43] "Plagal Cadence. This is also known as the Amen cadence, and embraces the harmonies of the subdominant and tonic; in other words, the chords of the fourth and first degrees. This is true of both modes. The plagal cadence is frequently used in the Episcopal and Catholic services to the word "Amen", which occurs at the end of chants and anthems. It was likewise known as the Ecclesiastical cadence in the time of Palestrina, when it was employed in certain "modes" which contained no dominant for the authentic close. It is really an after, or sub-cadence, and comes after a full cadence; in which case it is the foundation of a short coda, as the mensural proportion is generally complete before the plagal cadence is introduced. It is more mild and less decided than any of the others, having in reality very little transitional strength."

[GOOD 1893: 191] "After cadence (Plagal) [major mode, EDIT]. The subdominant harmony followed by that of the tonic constitutes what is known as a plagal cadence. The author [Alfred John Goodrich, EDIT] calls it an after cadence as this term is more significant; this cadence coming after the final ending of a composition, to which it serves as a short coda or extension [Fn.]. In church music the after cadence is often used at the end of an Anthem or Te Deum as accompaniment to the word Amen. Hence it is frequently called the Amen Cadence. (...) Of all the cadences herein enumerated, the after cadence is the most mild and undecided." - Fn.: "The use of this cadence as a substitute for the dominant in old ecclesiastical music is now obsolete (.)." 

[GOOD 1893: 191-2] "The diminished 7th chord as a passing harmony may be included among the Amen cadences. The tonality (.) is not affected by the chromatic passing chord especially as the tonic remains above and below [Ex. 454]." 

[GOOD 1893: 192] "The harmony of a major third below may also be included, though its relationship is apparently remote [Ex. 455]."

[GOOD 1893: 197] "After cadence (Amen) [minor mode, EDIT]. This consists of the subdominant (or some harmony corresponding to that of the fourth) followed by the tonic, as in major. With exception of the difference in mode the effects are identical. There is however this important distinction to be made: In major use either a major or minor chord on the subdominant; but in a minor key the subdominant harmony is naturally minor [Ex. 469]." [Fn:] "In the Sicilienne from 'Cavalleria Rusticana' this natural order is reversed and with excellent effect."

[HUGH 1903 and 1912: 86] "When the cadence is formed by a subdominant chord followed with a tonic, the cadence is called plagal (popularly church or amen cadence); cadence plagale, F.; Plagalkadenz, G."

[PARK 1908: 244] "The unaccented sub-dominant chord, followed by the accented tonic chord, is called the Plagal cadence [Ex.] (.) (. the distinction of "complete" and "incomplete" is not so important as in the authentic cadences, but both chords are usually in fundamental position.) This cadence, as the close of a composition, is rarely used alone, but is generally preceded by the authentic cadence, thus: [Ex.]. This is also called the "Amen cadence", as it is the one commonly used for the "Amen" after the last verse of Church hymns."

[HUBB 1910 v.10: 285] "Kirchenschluss. Ger. n. Church cadence; amen cadence: a popular name for the plagal cadence, one formed by a subdominant chord which is built up on the fourth note of the scale and followed by a chord of the keynote."

[GARD 1912: 43] "Another method of ending a composition is by the plagal close which is a progression from subdominant harmony (triad) to tonic. The plagal close is preceded by the authentic close and is also called the after cadence and the Amen cadence."

[HUGH 1912: 86] see [HUGH 1903: 86] 
[GEHR 1914: 90] "A plagal cadence is one in which the tonic chord is preceded by the sub-dominant chord (IV-I). The plagal cadence (sometimes called the church cadence, or amen cadence), like the authentic, is described as being perfect when the soprano of the tonic chord is the root of that chord, and imperfect when the soprano of the final chord is the third or fifth of that chord."

[HAAG 1916: 90-1] "A Plagal (also Subdominant or Amen) Cadence is a cadence in which the final chord is preceded by the S or °S chord (...). A Chord in fundamental position expresses its tonal function in a stronger degree than any of its inversions; therefore, inversions must be omitted from at least the last two or three chords of a cadence."

[GARD 1918: 1] "The Plagal Cadence (also called Church Cadence, Ecclesiastical Cadence, and Amen Cadence) is a progression of the subdominant chord to the tonic chord. This cadence is effective after the final cadence in ecclesiastical music."

[ST/SP 1996: 246 fn. 13] "The plagal cadence is used to convey particular poetic sentiments, for example, the religious "Amen" ending, ." [EDIT: Although ST/SP don't use the term 'Amen cadence' literally, they explicitly connect the plagal cadence with the word 'Amen'.]


Example: Mozart, Requiem K. 622, Sequentia, Lacrimosa, 27-30 (Klavierauszug F. Brissler, Leipzig, Peters, ca. 1895)


-----Original Message-----
From: smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org [mailto:smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of Ninov, Dimitar N
Sent: zondag 2 december 2012 21:21
To: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Subject: [Smt-talk] Cadence on the wikipedia

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to share my surprise with the limited scope and contradictory ideas in the explanation of "cadence" on the wikipedia.org.

I taught this site was supposed to represent a kind of encyclopedia that relied on vast information obtained from well-established worldwide sources. Rather, it turned out to be a copy-paste reference space that has taken most of its information from a few American textbooks and articles, some of whose premises are highly objectionable and contradict others.

1. First, the term "half cadence" is explained as "any cadence ending on V, whether preceded by V of V, ii, IV, or I, or any other chord." This interpretation is taken from Jonas Oswald's "Introduction to the Theory of Heinrich Schenker" (1982).  

Allow me to provide my comments of what I think of as a limited and therefore inaccurate definition. A half cadence means a cadence that is not full, that is - a closure that does not finish on the tonic chord. While most typically this is the dominant chord, that is not an exclusive premise. There is also a plagal half cadence as well as a temporary ending on a borrowed chord that may substitute for either S or D.

2. The interpretation of the term "evaded cadence" is even more surprising. It reads: "V4/2 to I6. Because the seventh must fall step wise, it forces the cadence to resolve to the less stable first inversion chord. Usually to achieve this, a root position V changes to a V4/2 right before resolution, thereby "evading" the cadence." 

This interpretation belongs to Darcy and Hepokoski (2006). Apart from the fact that it clashes with the interpretation of the so-called "inverted IAC" ["similar to a PAC, but one or both chords is inverted"], whose source is not given (perhaps Kostka/Payne), this explanation is one of the strangest things I have ever read in my life. 

The fact that V2 resolves too I6 is neither unexpected (even for a phrase ending), nor represents an evasion of the tonic. When shaping the end of a phrase, it is an imperfect authentic cadence. It could sound melodically perfect if si-do is in the soprano, thus enhancing the cadential impact.

I think that the interpretation of "evaded cadence" must be sought along the line of hinting a key whose tonic does not appear at a cadential moment, and yet the passage does not sound like a typical deceptive cadence or elipsis.

The Plagal Cadence is only explained in a general and incomplete manner. "IV to I, also known as the "Amen Cadence" because of its frequent setting to the text "Amen" in hymns". 

This interpretation is lacking a reference to the II6-I or II6/5-I relations that create even stronger plagal cadences, not to speak of the nuances: perfect plagal cadence (PPC), imperfect plagal cadence (IPC) and plagal half cadence (simply HC). It is true that in Classical Music the plagal cadence occurs much more rarely than the authentic one, but in the Romantic era and later music it is increasingly emancipated to be overlooked or rejected. 

For example, the only final cadence in the first exposition of the main theme in "Jupiter" by Holst is plagal (II6-I). Popular music is full of final plagal cadences, and one immediate example that comes to my mind is the end of "I am Looking Through You" by the Beatles.

A great example of a plagal half-cadence is the ending of the second phrase in the opening sentence of Beethoven's piano sonata Op. 10 No. 2 (I), measures 5-8. The phrase ends with a tonicization of IV (V2/IV - IV6) and this relative ending is enhanced by a quarter rest that creates a rhythmic cadence or caesura.

The manner cadence is explained in the wikipedia reveals two interesting features:

A. A general tendency that has been gradually imposed nationally and internationally for the past 50-60 years. At the core of this tendency lies the attempt to establish Schenmkerian concepts as the only official norms in music theory, whose credibility must be so big and mandatory as to occupy all the room in an encyclopeida's theoretical reference pages and to leave no vacancy. 

B. Mutual negation of concepts with no warning on the part of the publisher (except for the  mentioning that Bill Caplin rejects the plagal cadence as a concept). For example, the notion that a stepwise approach to the tonic in the bass cannot create a cadence virtually erases all the imperfect authentic cadences where one of the chords or both are inverted. In doing that it falls in contradiction with the wikipedia's interpretations of inverted IAC and a leading tone IAC. 

Consequently, what wikipedia presents to the reader is a mish-mash concept of cadence where one negates the other but most readers do not seem to realize that or do not care. It is fun to read. 

Best regards,

Dimitar Ninov

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

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