A cadence is a point at which all of the voices of a multipart counterpoint come together making a close to a particular phrase of music. At this point, the voices sound a perfect consonance occurring on the systolic beat. In two voice writing, this is almost always a unison or an octave. If there are three or more voices, one voice may take a third or a fifth to the bass note. It is possible for two voices in a composition to cadence while the others continue moving, although at the final cadence all voices sound the final harmony of the piece together. From this, it can be seen that there are two species of cadence: the final cadence and the interior cadence. The rules are slightly different for the two types of cadence.
Cadences normally proceed from a major sixth to an octave or from a minor third to a unison. This is often proceeded by a syncopated dissonance, which resolves to the sixth or third which then proceeds to the octave or unison by contrary motion. In the major sixth to octave cadence, usually the lower voice descends by a tone and the upper voice ascends by a semitone (except in the Phrygian cadence, where the two voices are reversed). In the minor third to unison (or minor tenth to octave) cadence, usually the lower voice ascends by a semitone and the upper descends by a tone (except in the Phrygian cadence).
This is easier to show than to explain. The following examples will clarify the matter. In each case we restrict ourselves to two voices, the descant and the bass.
On the first minim the two voices make any consonance allowed by the rules of counterpoint. At the second minim's time, the first semibreve in the descant is the preparation for the syncopated dissonance; this can be an octave or a sixth depending on what note is in the bass. At the third minim's time, the second semibreve in the bass is the suspension dissonance, a seventh. At the fourth minim's time, the second minim in the descant, and the penultimate note in both voices, is the resolution of the syncopated dissonance. This note is sometimes called the leading tone. At the final note in the phrase, both voices proceed outward from the sixth to the octave. In this case, the upper voice steps by a semitone and the lower by a tone.
According to Zarlino, the leading tone should always form a major sixth with the bass. If this is not naturally the case, then the musician may correct this by the use of musica ficta. In the untransposed modes, the Lydian cadence on F and the Ionian cadence on C will naturally be proceeded by a semitone. In the Dorian cadence on D, the Mixolydian cadence on G and the AEolean cadence on A, are not naturally proceeded by a semitone and must be corrected. For example, in the dorian mode, the leading tone would be a node a semitone lower than D, a sharp C as opposed to the natural C, and similarly in the other modes.
This cadence is by far the most common type. It was prevalent for so long that composers as early as Dufay have ornamented it. Example 8b shows a cadence which is ornamented by descending from the leading major sixth to the fifth before going to the final octave.
On the first minim the two voices again make any consonance allowed by the rules of counterpoint. At the second minim's time, the first semibreve in the bass is again the preparation for the syncopated dissonance. At the third minim's time, the second semibreve in the descant is the suspension in which the voices are a whole tone apart. At the fourth minim's time, the bass descends by a semitone, making a minor third which then proceeds the unison on the final tone.
This cadence may also be formed by going from the minor tenth to the octave (Example 9a).
According to Zarlino, the leading tone should always form a minor third (or tenth). This may be enforced by the use of musica ficta, as in the cadence on the sixth, however, note that this time the leading tone is in the bass and not the upper voice.
The Phrygian cadence is upside down from the normal cadence. The leading tone ascends by a whole step from the major sixth to the octave, or descends by a whole step from the minor third to the unison, as is apparent in the examples. The final note of the Phrygian cadence is an E, unless the mode is transposed by the use of a flat in the signature, in which case it will occur on A. As in the Phrygian cadence, the penultimate interval will naturally be a major sixth or minor third no coloration of the leading tone is permitted.
Cadences may not occur on any note of the gamut, instead they must occur only on those notes allowed by the mode of the piece. The mode of the piece is determined by the final note of the lowest voice (whichever voice is lowest at the final note). Each mode has its own final note, although the mode associated with a given note may be changed by adding a flat sign. Table 1 gives natural cadence notes of the various modes.
|Mode||Final||Frequent Cadences||Rare Cadences||Transponsed Final|
|Dorian||D||D, A, F||G||G|
|Phrygian||E||E, A, G||C||A|
|Lydian||F||F, C, A||D||B-molle|
|Mixolydian||G||G, D, C||A||C|
|AEolian||A||A, D, C||G||D|
|Ionian||C||C, G, A||D||F|
In music for a basse dance, a cadence may be either made by the descant and tenor, countertenor and tenor, or between the two moving voices (descant and countertenor). The latter is obviously simpler, and may occur anywhere desired. Often the tenor will move by a leap of a fifth or a fourth while the other two voices make the 7-6-8 cadence.
Making a cadence with the tenor can only occur in places where the tenor descends by a tone (or semitone for a Phrygian cadence) or ascends by a semitone to one of the notes on which a cadence can occur in that mode. It is possible to chromatically alter the tenor to achieve this (many version of La Spagna sharpen the 16th note). This final note is usually a doubled one. As the cadence is often proceeded by the syncopated dissonance, which usually proceeds stepwise, the most natural place for the interior cadence is where the tenor either descends by two steps, as in F E D D, or ascends then descends, as in D E D D. This is noticed by Crane and he uses it to correct some obviously faulty tenors.
Onward to: Chapter 13: The special problem of the Final Cadence.
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