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Thread: Cadence Recognition

  1. #1
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    Cadence Recognition

    Was wondering if anyone could explain how to recognise cadences. I need to be able to distinguish perfect, plagal, imperfect and interrupted cadences. The problem im having is I dont know what to listen for.

    The most difficult for me is telling the difference between perfect and plagal. I should be listening primarily to the bass line right?

    If theres no simple answer to this, does anyone know of a text book that puts it in understandable terms?

  2. #2
    Registered Abuser widdly widdly's Avatar
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    First of all you should be able to play each of the cadences on your instrument. I don't think that listening to the bass alone will work, after all it may not be playing the root (the chords could be inversions). You need to listen to the harmony.

    PLay a cadence. Does it sound like the piece has finished? Does it sound like the peice is pausing for a bit? You need to identify the feeling of resolution that the cadence gives. Listen for the tension then the release.
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    Last edited by widdly widdly; 04-11-2011 at 07:28 AM.

  3. #3
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    You need to be able to recognize triad quality and in order to do that most people need to go through recognizing intervals. Once you have those down then recognizing simple cadences is just a matter of placing what you know into context (that's how ear training is taught in college anyway)

    -Jorge

    P.s. I am sure there are other ways to do it. But I am not an aural skills teacher. That's simply the way I've done it.
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  4. #4
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    k.. I play the flute... so Im not gonna be playing cadences any time soon... so i need to have it put in relitivily lamenish terms like...

    Im a retard when it comes to chords... so please if someone could spell it out to me as simple as possible... I dont think theyre gonna be throwing inversions at me at this point because thhey have just introduced the concept... but If someone could please give me some pointers as to what to listen for id be ever so grateful...

  5. #5
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    Lke anything, recognition comes with practise.
    The 4 cadences are basically as follows:
    Perfect (V-I) - Sounds finished
    Imperfect (I-V) - Sounds unfinished (wants to resolve to I)
    Plagal (IV-I) - Sounds religious like (think amen in many hymns due to the binding note (the 5th of chord IV is also the root of chord I)
    Interupted (V-VI) - the easiest of all to identify at first, sounds totally out of place at a cadence (as the name suggests)

    chord examples (in major key)

    Perfect - Gmaj-Cmaj
    Imperfect: Cmaj-Gmaj
    Plagal: Fmaj - Cmaj
    Interupted: Gmaj to Amin

    Get your teacher to play them, I am presuming as a flautist that you will have your teacher accompanying you, and you call them out. Gets easier with practise

    There are your cadences as simply as I could put it :-)

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    Interesting. Triggers my interest after a period of no musical exploring. I also think there'll be a revival of my fascination of the modes.

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    Thumbs up

    Well its long past my music test now so its not so urgent, but id still like to follow up on this one since I got most of the questions on cadences wrong

    I THINK... i came up with a practical way to decipher the plagal from the perfect.. I know theres the Amen thing but thats not really %100 accurate... If you get creative enough anything can become an amen, especially after listening to cadence after cadence for ages...

    There was one note (tonic?) that I could sing that fit in both progressions in the perfect where as it wasnt in the plagal.. Ack, It made sense the other day...

    Anyway, If anyone has anything really solid and practical... please fill me in... meanwhile I think id better learn how to play these things on the piano, fully grasp the theory and this will prolly all fit into place...

    Thanks for everyones help so far...
    Last edited by oto; 06-16-2006 at 02:08 PM.

  8. #8
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    Well in a perfect cadence the root of chord V is also the 5th of chord I but be careful picking out binding notes as in a plagal cadence the 5th of chord IV is the root of chord I.
    With respect to the whole 'amen' thing, it works for many as the note which is common to the chords is the tonic of chord one, the tonal center. It is usually the easiest thing to cling onto when listening to a piece and so when used properly can be effective although to be honest it has become so ingrained now I'm not sure exactly how I actually came to learn what a plagal cadence sounds like but it certainly involved the 'amen' idea.
    Anyway, don't get too dishartened, it will come .

  9. #9
    Registered User dusura's Avatar
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    This is the method I use.

    Before you can identify chords you need to be able to identify notes in a key. You need to know what each of the notes of the scale sound like, 1st degree, 2nd degree...

    Once you can do this then you are ready to identify cadences. You do this by identifying the notes in the two chords. For example, you hear a chord with 4th, 6th and 1st degree, followed by a chord with 1st, 3rd and 5th degree. Then you know it is a plagal cadence.

    The biggest thing is learning to identify individual notes. Once you can do that, cadences are not so hard.

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