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Examples of Perfect and Imperfect cadences.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by rw3cja, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. rw3cja

    rw3cja Guest

    May 24, 2011
    Hello everyone,

    I will be teaching a lesson on cadences soon and I was wondering if you could help.

    I am looking for examples of both perfect and imperfect cadences within songs. I can easily demonstrate how these cadences sound, but I think that showing examples of cadences being used within songs would be best.

    So, any suggestions? The more modern the song, the better; however all suggestions are welcome!

  2. DaveyM69


    Jan 1, 2011
    I don't do modern, but perfect is pretty much everywhere - there will be thousands that your students will know, just pick any 'modern' song and you've probably got it right there.

    Imperfect may be a bit more challenging. I - V is obviously very common, but is not so much used at 'cadence points'...
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Yes, V-I, but, I-V begs for clouser. Perfect and imperfect cadences. I take perfect being chords that move in the accepted way of rest, tension, climax and then resolution and return to rest. I may be missing the mark here. If you are asking for examples of inversions, then I have. Google has a lot to say on this subject. See if you can make something from this:

    The I tonic chord can go anywhere in the progression, but, when you go to the I tonic you resolve any tension you have built up - is it time to resolve, if so time for the I, but, if you have more to say other chords will let you do that.

    ii is a sub-dominant chord and likes to go to a dominant chord, i.e. the ii-V7-I comes to mind.

    iii likes to move somewhere, it normally drags the vi with it. The iii-vi-IV-V-I comes to mind here.

    IV is the other sub-dominant chord and like the ii it wants to go to a dominant chord. As both have the same function they can and do substitute for each other. I-IV-V-I or I-ii-V-I.

    V is the dominant chord and wants to move to the I tonic. If you add the b7 and make it a V7 chord it wants to move to the I tonic chord RIGHT NOW, I look upon the V7 as the climax chord anything else beyond the V7 other than the I tonic is anti-climatic. Thus imperfect. IMO. I do know the I-V-IV-V7-I happens in Country all the time.

    vi wants to go to a sub-dominant chord. Lot of music will take the vi directly to the V chord. I guess it's OK to skip over a step. Course the deciding factor is harmonization, not necessarly movement.

    vii is the diminished chord and as such likes to lead somewhere - not necessarily to the tonic I, however, that is a cool route for the vii chord as the vii is also a dominant chord, so like the ii and IV the V and vii can substitute for each other. This wanting to lead somewhere makes it a good candidate for the first chord in a turn-a-round, i.e. vii-iii-vi-ii-V7-I. So if you want to resolve and get to the tonic I chord right now use the V7 chord, however if you want to lead somewhere else think about the vii diminished chord for taking you somewhere beside the tonic I chord.

    OK, that is what they like to do. Now for the imperfect build a progression that does not do what they like to do, i.e. take the progression to where it begs to go somewhere beyond how you are taking it.

    Sorry, my songs are basically I IV V dirt simple songs - others may be more help with imperfect cadences.
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    It's very simple.

    Perfect cadence - V->I
    Imperfect cadence - Any cadence that ends on a V.
  5. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    Yikes. Unless you've all learned from some system that I am unfamiliar with, the definitions of "imperfect" in this thread are completely off. The OP could stand to use clearer terminology, too. There are four kinds of cadences:

    Authentic - V-I or vii°-I
    Plagal - IV-I
    Deceptive - V-vi
    Half - Phrase ends on V.

    In the category of authentic cadences are the Perfect Authentic Cadence (PAC, for short) and the Imperfect Authentic Cadence (IAC). A PAC is a very specific situation in which there is a V-I progression, both chords are in root position, and the soprano (highest sounding voice) has the leading tone in the V chord and the tonic in the I chord. In terms of scale degrees, the outer voices look like this (bass on bottom, soprano on top):


    An Imperfect Authentic Cadence is any Authentic Cadence that does not meet those specific criteria. For instance, if either or both of the chords involved are inverted, if the soprano is anything but leading tone going to tonic (2-1, 2-3, 4-3, 5-5, 5-3, 5-1, etc.), or any permutation of vii°-I. When I get home, I can provide copious examples.
  6. DaveyM69


    Jan 1, 2011
    As I remember it...

    Perfect: V (opt 7) -I
    Imperfect: Any chord to V
    Plagal: IV-I
    Interrupted: V (opt 7) -VI

    All this authentic/deceptive/half stuff is just dressing around the 4 cadences above. They only serve to confuse the issue and are irrelevant in the real world. Too much Wikipedia :bag:

    Again, just dressing. It's the chord function and the fact that it is coming to rest (a cadence) on the second chord that is important. Any voicing or inversion can be used.

    Also, VII (diminished or otherwise) - I is not a true perfect cadence although it sounds like one. If you think in a minor key and take chord VII7 it gives you a diminished chord. Put the dominant (the 5th degree of the scale) below that and you get V7(b9) which is what is being implied and your ear sort of fills this in for you! This of course can be used in a major key but the b9 on the dominant doesn't occur naturally.

    You can also put the flattened supertonic (second degree) and you also get a 7(b9) - welcome to the Neapolitan sixth or tritone substitution. A bit of jazz :) It still has the same function as V7 and VII7 but it's not strictly a perfect cadence, they all just share the leading note to tonic and subdominant to mediant movement.
  7. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    It's evident that we are using two different systems of terminology. I wouldn't touch Wikipedia with a ten-foot pole, so you can rule that out. Every book that I've ever taught out of (Aldwell/Schacter, Kostka/Payne, Roig-Francoli, Piston, Schoenberg) has used authentic/plagal/deceptive/half, which makes me question where your terminology comes from. I considered that your usage of perfect/imperfect was some old school way of talking about cadences, but seeing as Schoenberg and Piston (old school) use authentic/half instead of perfect/imperfect, I am thinking that perfect/imperfect is some English thing in the same category as semihemidemisemiquaver.

    To say that "half cadence" is some useless elaboration, I must disagree: full cadence = V-I, half cadence = V. It's literally "half" of a cadence. Very logical, no ambiguous wording.

    I won't argue that a cadence is most importantly a resting point, a musical punctuation. I personally don't teach perfect/imperfect as categories of an authentic cadence, because I feel that it is just fluff, but it's important (especially for the bass crowd) to know that root position chords at a cadence point produce more satisfactory and final cadences. I don't need terminology to tell me that I should use I6 instead of I if I want to have a cadence and keep the music moving.

    Truth, although I still prefer the umbrella term of "authentic" cadences. None of this vacillation between "not really perfect" and "implied perfect". vii° is its own triad sometimes.

    Flattened supertonic will give you V7(♭5).

    Key of C major: C D E F G A B (1 2 3 4 5 6 7)
    I: C E G
    V7: G B D F
    ♭2 = D♭
    V7(♭5) = G B D♭ F

    V7(♭9) requires a lowered submediant degree (♭6).

    Also, the Neapolitan chord is not the same thing as a dominant tritone sub. The Neapolitan chord (N) is a pre-dominant harmony, meaning that it prepares a dominant function. When voiced in the first inversion (N6), it imitates the subdominant functions (IV and ii6) and allows for nifty voice leading:

    N6 V7 I
    Tritone substitution is a different story and is more easily likened to the realm of augmented sixth chords, if you really want a Common Practice parallel.

    ♭II7 I
    Compare to the standard dominant-tonic progression:

    V7 I
    Notice that the tritone in the ♭II7 and V7 chords are the same degrees (4 and 7). This is why we call it a tritone substitution: you can make two M/m7 sonorities using the same tritone. Example: G7 (G B D F) and D♭7 (D♭ F A♭ C♭). The nomenclature could also mean that the roots of the dominant chord and its tritone sub are a tritone apart (G and D♭). I've never seen any consistent discussion on the topic, so I explicate both possibilities.

    The reason why the Neapolitan chord (D♭ in the key of C) and the tritone sub (D♭7 in the key of C) are different entities is because the Neapolitan chord is all about surrounding the tonic by minor second in either direction before resolving (♭2-7-1, or D♭-B-C) while the tritone sub goes directly to the tonic (♭2-1) at the same time as tritone resolution (4 & 7 to 3 & 1, or F & B to E & C).
  8. use Bach Choral to show harmony in it's essence.

    The way I learned it is this.

    PAC - V-I chord, with 5-1 in the bass and a 7-1 or 2-1 in the soprano. As long as the tonic ends with 1 in the melody. (Approach by 7 or 2 are both fine)

    IAC- V-I chord, with 5-1 in the bass and a 2-3 or 4-3, or 5-5, 6-5 in the soprano. As long as the tonic ends with non-1 (3rd or 5th) in the melody. Or any vii7 - 1.

    Similar to what Bainbridge wrote except that 2-1 is good choice for PAC in the melody for me. After doing some Schenker studies, it seems that over the long run, 2-1 in the melody ends up being the stronger cadence than 7-1 in the melody.

    If you want modern songs... just pick any tune over

    I- vi - IV - V - I

    one time, end with a root in the melody, another end with a 3rd or 5th.
  9. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    This is all perfect but only classical musician know that ... ( I know I've studied those during my college degree on classical DB in a classical music college )everyone else just f***ed up every terminology to meet their lack of studies ... so you'll need to dumb down a lot.
  10. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    If you see how it could be simpler, I'm all ears. Like I said, when I have a client, I abandon the PAC/IAC thing because I would rather my students understand what a cadence is in general than try to clue them in to every little nuance of cadential treatment. I rarely have problems with this part of harmony, though: they usually get hung up on not leaping around everywhere when voice leading (part writing, for those not in the US). Later on, when we analyze a piece (I bring in examples from all genres, by the way, not just classical), I will have them pick out the cadences and I might elaborate upon the difference between PAC and IAC at that point. Once again, there is rarely a problem, and sometimes a student will bring up the deceptive cadence in bar 30 before I can even direct them to it.

    Whether you're talking about technique, performance, or analysis, music takes practice and reinforcement. Consistent terminology helps this, and I've yet to see "perfect/imperfect" to describe what everybody else calls "authentic/half" in a book, nor do I see the advantage of such terms. "Interrupted" makes as much sense as "deceptive", though, and I've seen it around before.
  11. DaveyM69


    Jan 1, 2011
    I meant under the VII7 so in C:
    Db B D F Ab which rearranged enharmonically gives you:
    Db F Ab Cb Ebb = Db7(b9)

    We both got to the same conclusion - just at different points!
  12. DaveyM69


    Jan 1, 2011
    It's been used for at least 30 years to my knowledge in the UK as taught by 'The' music estashblishment - Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM)
    SteveCS likes this.
  13. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
  14. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011

    Mr. Pedantic Semantics would like to point out that a more accurate statement would be "that is what some of us like them to do." The chords themselves have no desires, proclivities, or impetus to move, change, resolve, or do anything/go anywhere at all.
  15. Shoal of Time

    Shoal of Time

    Jan 4, 2013
    Two clear illustrations from the White Album:

    PAC: "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da": Uses 2-1 in the vocal melody above a V7-I cadence.
  16. Sure, we've all heard modern jazz that never seems to resolve, and most people can't appreciate it for that very reason (including me). You may think the idea of "tension and release" is pedantic, but 99.9% of songs you hear are built on that very format. While the chords don't have any "desires", the listeners most certainly do. They desire tension and resolution; just turn on the radio, and that's what you'll hear in every song. Nothing "pedantic" about that, it's the very nature of western music.
  17. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    I think you miss my point...despite the fact that you reiterated it almost verbatim! I wasn't addressing whether or not resolution is or isn't desireable, my "pedanticness" was simply in pointing out the more technically correct subject of any Resolution Desire sentence.
  18. funnyfingers


    Nov 27, 2005
    Is Keep on Rockin in the Free World a good example? The vocals are not sung with the root notes of the bass or guitar.
  19. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Different terminologies, I was taught there are five different Cadences, split into two groups, perfect and imperfect. Any Cadence that ends on the I is perfect, everything else is imperfect.

    The main four are,
    Perfect. V-I or V7 - I
    Plagal. IV- I
    Imperfect. I - V or IV - V
    Interrupted. V- VI

    The other option is the Phrygian, VIb - V so it an imperfect Cadence in a minor key. This keeps it very simple to identify and deal them, and sub-group them.
    The other variable is when it has a feminine ending, ending on the weak beat of the bar as opposed to a strong.

    In modern music genres its use means many things...signifies the end of a section, such as a verse chorus, middle 8 etc.
    Rock bands use them because they are great devices to create light and shade, add dynamics etc. Won't be fooled again, uses them, To hard to handle, by Otis Reeding, etc. Blues players use them 'milk' or 'wring out' an ending, in some cases it is used to build an introduction to a song.
    It can be argued that they are not really cadences, but I agree teach them the accepted uses and meanings, then let them decide on merits of any variations.

    The modern use in harmony I suppose means to resolve or leave it unresolved would be the two groups they would fall into. Terminology will vary, but so long as the meaning or implication is the same, then there is no big deal.

    It may not be so much "an English thing," as much as it is not your thing.;)
  20. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    I see more of a likeness to what we in the US call conclusive and inconclusive cadences. Conclusive = ends on a tonic. Inconclusive = doesn't end on a tonic (or ends on a weak tonic), urges the progression to continue. Robert Wm. Sherman uses "Terminal" and "Continuation" in his weird book, but it's the same spirit. Still, why use "Perfect" to mean a group of cadences that encompasses V/vii°/IV-I, and then use the same word to specifically refer to V/vii°-I?

    You mean the phrygian half cadence (phrygian imperfect cadence?)? That's iv6 V, not VI V. The best example of such a thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuosfi94fCw

    DaveyM69 says perfect/imperfect is what the ABSRM teaches. I haven't seen it in five of the most prominent harmony texts in the US, nor heard any of my colleagues ever use that terminology. I think the evidence is weighing toward "an English thing".