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In tonal harmony a cadence is a harmonic progression (of usually two chords) that indicates the end of a phrase. Several different types of cadences exist which impart varying feelings of finality upon music.

Cadences in Common Practice Harmony

  • Authentic Cadence - Sometimes called the Perfect Cadence, the Authentic Cadence is the strongest chord progression in Tonal Harmony. It consists of the chords V - I and is by far the most effective way of establishing a tonal centre. The progression V - I can be (and more often than not is) strengthened by the use of a dominant seventh chord.
  • Plagal Cadence - Often refered to as the Amen Cadence due to this progression usually being used to set the word 'Amen' at the end of hymns, the Plagal Cadence is the chords IV - I.
  • Imperfect Cadence - The Imperfect Cadence, or Half Cadence, is any cadence ending on V. The preceding chord is frequently ii, IV, I or V/V.
  • Interrupted Cadence - Otherwise known as the Deceptive Cadence, an Interrupted Cadence is V followed by any chord other than I. Most frequently this is vi or VI.