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

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Mon Feb 13 09:28:10 PST 2012

Dear Devin,

Thank you for these observations of Beethoven and Schumann. They only confirm that our attempts to classify the cadential six-four as either a V or I are based on one of two extreme decisions: either to give prevalence to the bass without caring what happens in the upper voices, or to give prevalence to the tonic without caring about the bass.

If we think of the cadential six-four as a tonic which occurs on a dominant bass, none of these errors and uncertainties in analysis will happen. The ambivalence of this chord created between an outer tonic structure and an initiated dominant function gives us the clue and leads to infallible analysis. The notion of a chord which has tow components (tonic and dominant) gives us freedom and removes the puzzle. 

The above also explains all the "unusual' resolutions of I6/4 to V with a voice leading that does not fit the expected 6/4-5/3 sequence. The cadential six-four may very well be followed by V2 or even V6/5, as your observation suggests. In the latter case the bass will be leaping.

As for the "conundrum" of the connection between II and I am puzzled. II6 is an excellent subdominant chord and it connects the tionic perfectly, in aplagal relationship; just like IV. Perhaps some people forgot to think of this when they circulate the term "pre-dominant", and they teach their students that connecting II6 to I is bad? Or II to I6? Both are terrfic. Not to speak of II6 and cadential 6/4.

As for the use of the term "pre-dominant" versus "subdominant" I will open a new topic very soon.

Best wishes,


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