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Cadence (or Close)

A cadence is a melodic or harmonic progression that to the listener’s ear signals the end of a phrase, section, or composition. A cadence can be thought of as the punctuation of a musical phrase. Like the semi-colon, it can lead to another musical thought, or function as the period at the end of a sentence (to end composition). There are different types of cadences that are characterized by their harmonic motion. The most common form of cadence is the Authentic Cadence, which is the movement of the V-chord (dominant) to the I-chord (tonic). The Authentic Cadence is also referred to as the Perfect Cadence (Full Close) or the Perfect Authentic Cadence. What differentiates “perfect” from “authentic” is voice leading based on the inversion of the chords. In a Perfect Cadence, both the V and I chords are written such that the root of the V-chord is the uppermost or soprano voice of the I-chord.

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