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Thread: Name this cadence

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    Default Name this cadence

    Various wikipedia and music theory pages list various types of cadence, but there's one that Bach uses that I haven't seen anywhere. I wondered if I might find a name for it here.

    It occurs, for example, in the C minor Passacaglia BWV 582. There is a tonic pedal, whilst the penultimate chord is a diminished chord - B-D-F-A flat, leading to a C major final chord.

    Something very similar happens in the C minor fugue from Book I. The A flat comes off early, yet its influence can still be felt, and the absence of a G -> C in the bass (well, anywhere at all, as there is no G in the penultimate chord) makes it sound quite different from a perfect cadence.

    Does this cadence have a name?

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    If there's a special name for it I've never heard it. It's a glorious sound, isn't it? Essentially it functions like V7 - I. The dominant raised a half step. If you spell it as a G sharp it's almost a dominant 7th chord resolving to the tonic. It would be interesting to hear the chords played in a Bach-like tuning rather than equal temperament. That dischord, the A-flat, adds incredible tension to the chord, mandating resolution to the last chord. I think the effect would be lost on almost any other instrument other than organ with all of its rich overtones.

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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    G7(b9)/C with no root?

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    It's just a leading tone fully diminished seventh over a pedal point tonic tone. The bass is the non-chord tone. So the cadence's name would be an imperfect authentic cadence.
    Last edited by Vasks; Jun-21-2019 at 23:04.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    I’ve posted the last twelve measures of the piece and will refer to them as mm. 1-12.

    I look at passages like this from a Schenkerian influenced perspective (even though I don't like orthodox Schenkerian analysis.)

    From this perspective, the real final cadence is just a normal V-I cadence; the tonic is reached on the first beat of m. 7. The rest (the last 6 measures) is just elaboration of the final tonic harmony. Measure 11 is the most dissonant part of this elaboration, with all the notes of a vii°7 sounding over the tonic pedal. (Vask's description is good as a traditional harmonic analysis, but I would say that the C pedal is the only chord tone in the penultimate measure.)

    Measures 1-4 elaborate the dominant and, in fact, they almost exactly parallel measures 7-10, which elaborate the tonic in the same way. The two passages are nearly the same thing transposed by a fifth. The chord on the fermata (m. 5) is a Neapolitan 6, soon followed by the final dominant on the last two beats of m. 6.

    So the cadence is just standard tonal grammar extensively elaborated as one might expect at the end of a long and complex contrapuntal piece. No special name.

    Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 5.49.08 PM.jpg
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Jun-21-2019 at 23:38.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Don't forget the poor little tierce de Picardie.. ...he tried his best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kjetil Heggelund View Post
    G7(b9)/C with no root?
    Coming from a pop/rock background, that's how I'd interpret it too. An altered dominant chord with a tonic pedal, resolving to the tonic major.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    Don't forget the poor little tierce de Picardie.. ...he tried his best.
    That I consider further support for the final structural cadence being six measures from the end — the Picardy third (E natural) appears there and is consistently used from there to the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrunchyFr0g View Post
    Coming from a pop/rock background, that's how I'd interpret it too. An altered dominant chord with a tonic pedal, resolving to the tonic major.
    Except there is no G chord tone. It is only used as a neighbor. I think Vasks had it right on the local level: vii°7 over the tonic pedal.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Jun-22-2019 at 14:26.

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    And Edward, you are quite right in saying the final six bars is an extension of the cadence (quite elaborate though). I was merely explaining what the OP described in words rather than looking at a score.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasks View Post
    And Edward, you are quite right in saying the final six bars is an extension of the cadence (quite elaborate though). I was merely explaining what the OP described in words rather than looking at a score.
    Yep, I got that. I never know whether or not to give the kind of answer I did.

    What greater comfort does time afford than the objects of terror re-encountered and their fraudulence exposed in the flash of reason?
    — William Gaddis, The Recognitions

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    Basil Valentine

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    Yep, I got that. I never know whether or not to give the kind of answer I did.
    You must always answer in full on mode Edward imo, I hope that expertise is always appreciated, especially when offered freely and willingly (thankyous are sometimes in short supply).

    It's interesting to see the diversity of definitions here, none wrong of course, just indicative of different methods..I grew up with both chord symbols and the academic aspect.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Jun-23-2019 at 12:15.

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