[Smt-talk] Nature and Labeling of the Cadential Six-Four

Arthurs, Daniel Daniel.Arthurs at unt.edu
Sun Feb 12 11:23:23 PST 2012

Dear Dimitar and List,

In light of the recent discussion of six-four chord labeling, I have attached a simple progression with a not-so-simple conclusion: Does the progression represent a perfect authentic cadence, or a plagal cadence?  (It might be preferable at first to ignore my annotations/analysis so as not to sway one's hearing.)

Somehow I'm not completely satisfied with an either/or answer here.  To be sure, this progression doesn't show up very frequently and I apologize for not citing any specific instances in the literature, but I imagine there could be a (small) handful of progressions like this floating around.  Of course, dominant sevenths suspended over a tonic bass at a PAC are abounding (the "delayed tonic resolution").

To my ear the progression represents a PAC (with a clear dominant to tonic root motion) but with a special reference to the plagal.  Something like the Revolutionary etude comes to mind.

One labeling note: I teach the analysis of suspensions by placing them next to roman numerals and enclosing them in parentheses.  I continue this practice in the case of cadential six-fours and pedal six-fours.  This helps in part to separate triadic inversion from intervallic motion above a single bass.  Since this still may not be satisfying to those who prefer the identification of roots as in I6/4 to V, to each his/her own, I say.  When teaching cadential six-fours I summarize the debate and tell students to employ whichever label makes more sense to them.


Daniel J. Arthurs, Ph.D.
Lecturer of Music Theory 
Division of MHTE
College of Music, UNT

-----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: Sunday, February 12, 2012 9:45 AM
To: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Subject: [Smt-talk] Nature and Labeling of the Cadential Six-Four

Dear Ciro,

Thank you for the comment. At the moment of occurrence which occupies the beat taken by the cadential alone, you label it as V-6/4. This is what is confusing. But how would you label it when you resolve non-chord tones into it as if it were a tonic? Such moments defy the notion of suspensions or appoggiaturas to V, because what is being introduced is suspensions or appoggiaturas to I, only that the vertical sonority is not I but I6/4. A 9-8 suspension to I, or a 4-3 suspension to I, each of them harmonized by the cadential six-four. What would you say about that?

Best regards,

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