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Piano Power: The Authentic or V-I Cadence
Part 1
By Richard Prokop, Greenacres Press, Inc.
(more articles from this author)
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In the following authentic cadence, the V chord (G Maj) resolves to the I chord (C Maj).

Unlike the IV chord (See The Plagal or IV-I Cadence), the elements of the V chord are powerfully attracted to the elements of the I chord. Evidence of this attraction can be found in:

1. The strong descending fifth motion of the root of the V chord resolving to the root of the I chord in the bass. (Note: The roots can just as easily resolve upward by a fourth while maintaining the same level of attraction for each other.)

2. The powerful ascending half-step motion of the third of the V chord resolving to the root of the I chord.

Removing the inner notes of the above example leaves us with the following:

Reiteration of the V chord is often used by composers as a builder of tension that ultimately releases into the I chord. This can be heard in the following example:

As a result, the authentic cadence (V-I) plays a major role in western tonal music by creating a sense of decisive finality within the context of the development and release of tension.

Listed below are examples of authentic cadences in all of the Major keys. In order to learn them thoroughly, copy all of the examples to manuscript paper and play them at your piano or keyboard.






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