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

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Mon Feb 13 12:32:18 PST 2012

A wonderful point, Olli! 

You wrote: "...the 6/4 is labeled as a I in a progression put in parentheses (=I–IV–V–I) above a V symbol" Only that the dominant does not usually resolve in a cadential six-four, but it must be a pedal six-four, or just a progression of several functions over a dominant bass? Since the list does not transmit attachments, I will have to ask for more information.

Let me joke about this: all routes lead to Rome, that is: a comprehensive examination of as many different occurrences of the cadential six-four as we can encounter will reveal the concept of a tonic over a dominant bass as an infallible description of this diversity.

Best regards,


Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
School of Music
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666
From: Olli Väisälä [ovaisala at siba.fi]
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2012 1:59 PM
To: Ninov, Dimitar N
Cc: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Nature and Labeling of the Cadential Six-Four

First, apologies that I have not read all posts in this prolific
thread; hence I am not aware of everything that has been said.

But I would first like to comment that Schenker's view of the
cadential 6/4 was not quite as unnuanced as some perhaps think. In
Free Compositon (§243) he states: "Even the so-called elaborated
cadenza (at a fermata) has a structure of its own. […] In order to
gain understanding of such a passage, it is necessary temporarily to
disregard the bass tone which underlies the cadenza, usually V6/4–
5/3." This is demonstrated by a passage by C.P.E. Bach (Fig. 109e6),
in which the 6/4 is labeled as a I in a progression put in
parentheses (=I–IV–V–I) above a V symbol. Hence Schenker did
recognize that the cadential 6/4 can take on the role of tonic, if
only temporarily.

Another question concerns chords that are prepared as if they were
cadential 6/4s but which then are reinterpreted as tonics without
ever convincingly resolving to the V. Such a deceptive device raises
interesting historical questions. It fits the expressive aims of
Romantics, such as Chopin and Schumann, and Beethoven examples have
been mentioned here. But are there any examples in music before

Olli Väisälä
Sibelius Academy
ovaisala at siba.fi

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