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Piano Power: The Plagal or IV-I Cadence
By Richard Prokop, Greenacres Press, Inc.
(more articles from this author)
2002-02-21
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A progression is a series of chords that works well together within a musical composition. A cadence. is an abbreviated progression consisting of two chords that serves as a musical ending. The ending can be at the end of a phrase, section or piece.

The most frequently used cadences in western tonal music are the authentic, plagal and deceptive. The plagal is the least dramatic of the three, consisting of the IV chord resolving to the I chord. Since there is a mild attraction between IV and I, the plagal cadence has a calming effect on the listener and is often referred to as the "Amen" cadence. Here’s an example in C Major:

Learn the plagal cadences by writing them out in all keys, and playing them at the keyboard in all inversions using the I-IV-I format demonstrated below.

C MAJOR

G MAJOR

D MAJOR

A MAJOR

E MAJOR

B MAJOR

F MAJOR

Bb MAJOR

Eb MAJOR

Ab MAJOR

Db MAJOR

Gb MAJOR

There are three more examples that you should study…F# major, C# major and Cb major. They are the enharmonic equivalents of Gb major, Db major and B major respectively.

F# MAJOR

C# MAJOR

Cb MAJOR


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