The Cadences

Posted on March 15, 2016 by songtive

This time we will talk about cadences, one of the most useful harmonic procedures available to every composer or songwriter out there! Every musical hit you know uses it, every song you like it also makes use of it, which makes it very convenient to learn.

Classical music, rock music, R & B music…you name it: they will use cadencial procedures to make effective chord progressions. Check out these songs

(1:02 to 1:03)

… and

(0:53 to 0:54)

That conclusive effect you can listen in such timeless classics, that seems to create a “landing” feeling, is what we call cadence.

What’s a Cadence?

Long time ago, in the 1600s approximately, with the appearance of tonal music – major mode and minor mode – harmonic resources known at the time were refined into the single concept of consonance we already reviewed, and chords as we know them were conceived – major, minor, augmented and diminished triads.

Every major, augmented or diminished chord has a property, a single note that will make it tend naturally to other chords. That single note is what we call leading tone, and when you move that leading tone to a chord that has the note it leads to, you create that conclusive effect – in music theory you call this resolution, a release of the tension created from this leading tone movement. This leading tone can be found in the VII degree of each major or minor scale moving to the root of said key/chord, for example: B would be leading tone to C major/minor, F# would be leading tone to G major/minor, and so on.

How can I do it?

Let’s take Bohemian Rhapsody as our example. When you hear the line “nothing really matters to me” you hear a F7 chord playing behind, and when Freddie reassures it repeating “…to me” you hear an F chord and then a Bb major chord. Let’s take it to our chord chart, and for discussion purposes we are repeating the progression over and over:

Analyzing this simple 3 chord fragment, we get some valuable information:

  • From F to A#/Bb – when the conclusion effect arrives – there’s an Ascending Perfect Fourth interval
  • F chord contains a A note, which is leading tone to A#/Bb
  • When F moves to A#/Bb, the leading tone (A) moves to the root of the chord (A#/Bb)

And this is how the cadence is achieved!

Let’s practice in another key! We are taking D major/minor as an example:

Move from V or V7 to I to perform a cadence!

How can I use it?

Every time you want to end a musical or text line, a cadence will be the most ideal resource to do this. Why? Because of its conclusive effect it will create a clear distinction between phrases and moods, therefore creating symmetry and balance throughout the whole song!

The perfect way to do this

So follow these simple steps!

  • Enter the and start a new song (or for better sound quality use our iPhone/iPad/Android app)
  • At the Song preferences tab select a key – select a time signature and sidescroll the metronome for setting the beat
  • In the line below just input the Cadential Pattern like V – I or V7 – I and press the ‘+’ button at the right
  • That’s it! You just created a Cadential Pattern to conclude your musical thoughts!
  • Now combine it with common-tone chords adding a Cadential Progression at the end to create a musical phrase, for example: I – IV – V – V7 – I