Question on Music theory

February 7, 2019, 12:10 AM · Could you help me by informing the difference between full close cadence and perfect cadence?

Another question: If the second last chord is in G major, and the last chord is the B Minor triad, what would be the cadence? Since the last chord is in B minor (and the key signature showed 2 sharps), I suppose, the scale is B minor.

Replies (15)

February 7, 2019, 1:07 AM · I believe that full close cadence and perfect cadence are the same thing. As for your second question, I don’t understand it. What do you mean by “the chord is in G major?” Are you saying that the chord is a G major tonic triad?
February 7, 2019, 1:31 AM · Actually, in my theory exam, I had a question like that with the options including both, full close cadence and perfect cadence. So, I guess there is any subtle difference.

Yes, the second last chord contains the notes of G, B and D. If the last chord contained notes of something like D, F# and A, it could have been a chord-V to chord-I transition, i.e., perfect cadence. But since the last chord contains notes of the B minor triad, it has become a bit tricky. As far as I know, it is interrupted cadence. Please confirm if my understanding is ok.

Edited: February 7, 2019, 1:46 AM · I believe that a perfect cadence is a type of full close cadence, with the special characteristics of resolving to the tonic in both the bass AND the soprano (or melodic) voices.

In just a regular (or imperfect) close cadence, the soprano can end on another tone of the tonic triad (3 or 5).

I could be wrong! Harmony classes were a long time ago!

Edited: February 7, 2019, 2:38 AM · VI-i is a form of Plagal Cadence - you have a chord without dominant function moving towards the tonic. It ends up feeling like a suspension so it's not commonly used - the problem is you share the third and fifth with your tonic chord so the resolution is fairly weak.

A perfect cadence can technically occur at any point in a musical statement, but a full close cadence resolves the entire statement.

Think of a cadence at the end of the first theme in an exposition compared to the cadence at the end of the exposition.

*said with, meant without

February 7, 2019, 8:08 AM · My understanding is that a perfect and full close cadence are the same thing:

1. Chord progression is V-I for a major key, and v-i or V-i for a minor key.

2. Both chords have their root note in the lowest and highest positions.

For B minor key, the chords for a perfect cadence are...

v/v7: F# (A) (C#) (E) F#
V/V7: F# (A#) (C#) (E) F#

i: B (D) (F#) B

If the next to last chord is G B D, that would be a VI-i progression for B minor, and IV-vi for D major.

I cannot think of a formal cadence name for any of these progressions. VI-i is not technically a Plagal Cadence but if you play it with root position chords it does sound a bit plagal and very interesting.

February 7, 2019, 9:50 AM · I wonder how many composers really care about the names of the cadences they use? When I compose I'll use a cadence that works and is appropriate to the context, and not worry about its formal, pedagogical, name (which I've probably forgotten anyway).
February 7, 2019, 5:50 PM · Trevor you're probably right. Kandinsky likely didn't wake up one day and say to himself, "I think I'll become an abstract expressionist" either. To understand relationships in hindsight, though, it's helpful to have names for things. In chemistry we talk about halogens and alkali metals. But we could just as easily say "Group 17" and "Group 1," respectively, for those elements. Likewise a Plagal Cadence could just be called a IV-I. When Mozart was writing his Symphony No. 41, my guess is that word "fugue" was in his head.
Edited: February 7, 2019, 8:45 PM · Carmen,

iv-I is the most common cited plagal cadence because it is the strongest, but a plagal cadence can also be IV, iv, bVI and vi. The common factor here is all of these chords contain the tonic pitch and do not contain a dominant function or touch on the dominant.

ii-I could also be considered a plagal cadence, but that's a touch of a stretch and open to serious debate.

VI-i is an exceptionally bad example because it is probably the weakest version of the plagal cadence and feels like a huge suspension. However, if an exam said name the cadence for the chords Gmaj-Bmin it would be a plagal cadence.


I think that would depend on how they're trained and at what point they're at in their career. I suspect the younger the composer the more they care - they is a higher likelihood they're still thinking about them as individual tools to be used in certain places in certain ways. Eventually I believe most composers throw off those binds and just do the thing.

February 11, 2019, 4:10 AM · Michael,
I was surprised by your mention of the VI - im as a form of plagal cadence.

The only formula for a plagal cadence I know of is IV-I, and VI is not a "subsititute" for IV, in my experience.

VI - im would seem to be a Deceptive cadence. Suspensions make some mischief in these matters, particularly when we have just a few voices and slow harmonic rhythm.

Do you have a reference I can follow this up with, please?: I'm stuck in the plagal IV - I rut, just now. Thanks.

February 11, 2019, 8:50 AM · It would be interesting to actually see the music. Played on piano, the progression does not sound very "cadency" to me. Who wrote the piece?
Edited: February 11, 2019, 10:57 AM · "Full close" and just "Perfect" aren't terms generally used in the US.
We use the terms PAC-perfect authentic cadence, and AC-authentic cadence, as well as half and deceptive.

You can come up with any progression you want, such as ii-I. But that doesn't mean it will fit within one of the existing cadence definitions.

The progression G to B-minor? It's not a cadence as generally defined in music of the common practice period, and for good reason: composers don't write cadences that use the relationship of thirds. There's no strong motion.

Progressions are moved along by either bass motion by 4th or 5th (harmonic motion), or half-steps, or both as in the case of V-I. But with thirds, there is neither, and there are two overlapping pitches.

So what's G major triad followed by B-minor? I'd say pretty much not anything at all, at least if the goal is to learn basic harmony.

February 11, 2019, 6:32 PM · We need to keep in mind that a cadence is "a point of rest".

V - I in the middle of a phrase is not a cadence.

VI - im at the end of a phrase is a cadence, a deceptive cadence (unless I learn further about the plagal cadence that has been mentioned before), but it would be a weak ending in our major-minor system of harmony.

If I found music with VI - im at the end of a piece (closing cadence), then I would be burrowing into the melody to seek out evidence that the piece was from another culture, or from times prior to, say, 1500 AD.

In an exam context, at a cadence point within a piece, I'm betting the examiner wanted "Deceptive cadence", as the answer.

February 11, 2019, 10:30 PM · We can argue strict definition vs. open definition of a plagal cadence all day, but the reality is both I and you are correct depending on the text used and the source cited. The problem here is that music theory is a descriptive tool and not a set of inviolable rules. The VI chord is very closely related to the IV chord - in fact it shares 2/3 pitches with it, most importantly it shares the tonic pitch. In C major, the IV chord contains F A C and the VI contains A C E. At it's loosest definition I would define any cadential movement (e.g a breath or end) that moves from a non-dominant function chord to the tonic as a plagal cadence.

The VI-I is a very weak cousin and variant of the plagal cadence - if I saw on an exam that they demanded I named a VI-I cadence the only correct answer I can think of is plagal - nothing else would fit. I would also complain about unfair questions and the question likely being out of line in difficulty from the rest of the exam.

We cannot consider VI-I as a deceptive cadence, as a deceptive cadence needs to come to rest on a chord other than I - typically they could be a cadential feeling from V-'not I'. It will feel differently depending on the chord you choose to resolve to.

Graeme, it's not a rut - the IV-I as a plagal cadence is nearly ubiquitous - to the point that the majority of texts and sources will list it as a definitive fact. This doesn't address why a plagal cadence is IV-I or what makes it plagal, but instead is just the formula.

I think Scott points out a very important point here however - if the point is to learn fundamental theory and harmony, this is a trick question and something needs to be missing from either the question or how it was relayed to us. We are talking about higher concepts and not undergrad tonal I/II here - the only places where a VI-I is considered a plagal candace is where we really start dissecting harmony and move away from common practice and what is truly useable by the definition into what is more possible and debatable.

I admit to having answered the question without considering the level and environment the question has come from.

I do not have references - I can't show you my memories of lectures, and while I have seen it shown in texts as an example I can't recall the specific texts (they were hand outs - shh copyright!).

I do offer what I like to use as a 'cadence chart' however -

Hope this is helpful, but probably not. Sorry.

February 12, 2019, 1:10 PM · IV and vi are related (they share two tones), but not really interchangeable before I. I don't think you can call vi-I any kind of cadence, including plagal. The reason is the chord quality: at the piano (if you have one), try IV-I. Then try vi-I. Big difference, right? It's because IV is major, and vi is minor. Totally different sounds even though the chords share two pitch.
February 12, 2019, 5:35 PM · All very interesting (in a minor, harmless kind of way).

Some people think they know what "plagal" means:


Looking into the original question more deeply, I am starting to firm on the idea that the exam question may well have arisen from a music example of modal character.

Talking about modes is almost silly, because they were originally something we don't know much about (ancient modes), except that some pipes, and harps or lyres were possibly (probably) tuned in particular modes. These modes were possibly slightly extended pentatonic scales (that may have some foundation in the overtone series, in some cultures).

But modes were also Gregorian, Church, and now Jazz. Same names for all.

Modes in these "systems" all sounded differently, even when assigned the same name, due in part to the temperaments used to define the steps between notes.

In Gregorian modes, plagal modes began on the fourth step of the authentic modes.

I do like fiddling around with the scales that some cultures have used and that are different to our major/minor system. (But such modes in their cultural contexts are "quite restrictive", I find. It is hard to write good counterpoint in some of these scales without being very repetitive (according to my ears, of course). And their rhythmic figures are also "tightly defined", stemming from their languages and their dance steps.

Deceptive cadences are discussed in detail in

as one source.

But I should get back to my cello practise.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings

Violin Lab

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop