[Smt-talk] Half cadences

Samarotto, Frank fsamarot at indiana.edu
Tue Dec 4 11:11:14 PST 2012

Dear Caleb,

Thank you—terrific reference. You beat the earliest reference I know of by 4 years.

CHoWMuT, pp. 448-49 mentions the cadence attendente in La Voye Mignot (1656). My thanks to Steve Grazzini for finding the original; the treatise is available through IMSLP; see the bottom of p. 76 (in the original numbering). Steve adds that, "He defines it as the situation where, instead of completing a cadence parfaite -- which was the cadence to the unison or octave, usually with a bass that falls by fifth or rises by fourth -- one "remains on the penultimate note." This is quite similar to the Matthaei Caleb cites. While cognizant of terminological problems, I would assert that "stopping on the penultimate: is functionally the same as a half–cadence.

Thanks again,


Frank Samarotto
Associate Professor of Music Theory
Jacobs School of Music
Indiana University Bloomington

On 12/4/12 12:23 PM, "Caleb Mutch" <cmm2209 at columbia.edu<mailto:cmm2209 at columbia.edu>> wrote:

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 Modis musicis [1652], p. 8).

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

Caleb Mutch
Ph.D. student
Columbia University

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