Terms Relating To Vocal Music
Terms Relating To Forms And Styles
Symbols Of Music Defined
Chords Cadences Etc
Terms Relating To Forms And Styles (_continued_)
Auxiliary Words And Endings
Abbreviations Signs Etc
Some Principles Of Correct Notation
Miscellaneous Terms (_continued_)
Terminology Adoptions 1907-1910
Random Music Terms
Terminology Adoptions 1907-1910
The History Of Music Notation
Abbreviations Signs Etc
Chords Cadences Etc
196. A chord is a combination of several tones sounding together and
bearing an harmonic relation to each other. The simplest chord is the
triad, which consists of a fundamental tone called the root, with
the third and fifth above it. C--E--G is a triad, as are also D--F--A,
F--A--C, and G--B--D.
197. Triads are classified as major, minor, diminished, or
A major triad has a major third and a perfect fifth, i.e.,
it is a major third with a minor third on top of it. Ex.
A minor triad has a minor third and a perfect fifth, i.e.,
it is a minor third with a major third on top of it. Ex.
A diminished triad has a minor third and a diminished fifth,
i.e., it is a minor third with another minor third on top of
it. Ex. C--E[flat]--G[flat].
An augmented triad has a major third and an augmented fifth,
i.e., it is a major third with another major third on top of
it. Ex. C--E--G[sharp].
198. A triad may be built on any scale-tone, but those on I, IV, and V,
are used so much oftener than the others that they are often called the
common chords. In referring to triads the Roman numerals are used to
show on what scale-tone the triad is based, the size of the numeral
(with other signs) indicating the kind of triad found on each tone of
the scale. Thus e.g., the large I shows that the triad on the first
tone (in major) is a major triad, the small II shows that the triad
on the second tone is minor, etc. The following figure will make this
The triads in the minor scale are as follows:
199. A triad is said to be in fundamental position when its root is
the lowest tone. It is said to be in the first inversion when the
third is the lowest tone, and in the second inversion when the fifth
is the lowest tone. Thus e.g., in Fig. 66 the same chord (C--E--G) is
arranged in three different positions, at (a) in fundamental position,
at (b) in the first inversion, and at (c) in the second inversion.
200. When the root is not the bass note, figures are sometimes used to
show what chord is to be played or written. Thus, e.g., the figure 6
over a bass note means that the note given is the third of a chord,
the root being found by going up a sixth from the bass note: i.e., the
chord is to be sounded in its first inversion. In the same way the
figures 6/4 indicate that the note given is the fifth of the chord,
the root and fifth being found by going up a sixth and a fourth from the
note given; i.e., the chord is to be sounded in its second inversion.
The use of these and other similar figures and signs is called figured
bass (or thorough bass) notation. An example of a figured bass is
given in Fig. 67.
Thorough bass notation was formerly used extensively in
writing accompaniments to vocal works, the accompanist having
to interpret the notes and signs given, and then to make up an
interesting accompaniment as he went along. Much of Handel's
music was written in this way, but in modern editions of these
works the chords have been printed in full and the signs
201. A seventh chord consists of a fundamental tone with its third,
fifth, and seventh. The fifth is sometimes omitted. A ninth chord
consists of a fundamental with its third, fifth, seventh, and ninth.
202. A cadence is the close of a musical phrase: in melody it refers
to the last two tones; in harmony to the last two chords.
The word cadence is derived from cadere, a Latin word
meaning to fall, the reference being to the falling of the
voice (i.e., the dropping to the normal pitch) at the close
of a sentence.
203. The most frequent cadence in harmony is that involving the chord on
I preceded by the chord on V. Because of its directness the cadence V--I
is called the authentic cadence.
204. The most satisfactory form (to the ear) of the authentic cadence is
that in which the highest voice (the soprano) of the final chord is the
root of that chord. When the final chord appears in this position the
cadence is called perfect authentic, and when the third or
fifth of the chord appear in the soprano, the cadence is called
imperfect authentic. Fig. 68 shows the chord G--B--D cadencing to
C--E--G in three different ways. The first one (a) is called a perfect
authentic cadence, but the last two (c) and (d) are imperfect
[Footnote 36: Many theorists (including Durand in his monumental
Treatise on Harmony) consider the V--I cadence to be the only one
which may legitimately be called perfect, but the majority of writers
seem to take the view that either authentic or plagal cadence may be
either perfect or imperfect, depending upon the soprano tone, as noted
205. A plagal cadence is one in which the tonic chord is preceded by
the sub-dominant chord (IV--I). The plagal cadence (sometimes called
the church cadence, or amen cadence), like the authentic, is
described as being perfect when the soprano of the tonic chord is the
root of that chord, and imperfect when the soprano of the final chord
is the third or fifth of that chord. Fig. 69 shows the chord F--A--C
cadencing to C--E--G in three ways. The first one (a) is called a
perfect plagal cadence, the last two are imperfect plagal.
206. A half-cadence occurs when the dominant chord is used as the
final chord of a phrase, and is immediately preceded by the tonic chord.
This form is used to give variety in the course of a composition, but is
not available at the end because it does not give a definite close in
the tonic key. Fig. 70 shows the use of the half-cadence at the close
of such a phrase.
207. A deceptive cadence is the progression of the dominant chord to
some other chord than the tonic, the word deceptive implying that the
ear expects to hear V resolve to I and is deceived when it does not do
so. The most common form of deceptive cadence is that in which V (or
V^7) resolves to VI. It is used to give variety, but as in the case of
the half-cadence, is not available at the end of a composition. Fig. 71
gives an example.
208. A sequence is a succession of similar harmonic progressions,
these resulting from a typical or symmetrical movement of the bass part.
See Fig. 72.
The word sequence is also applied to a succession of similar melodic
progressions, as in Fig. 73.
209. Modulation is a change of key without any break in the continuity
of chords or melody tones. Harmonic modulations are usually effected
through the medium of a chord, some or all of whose tones are common to
both keys. Examples of both harmonic and melodic modulations are
shown in Figs. 74 and 75.
The chord most frequently used in modulating is the dominant seventh,
i.e., a seventh chord (see Sec. 201) on the dominant tone of the key.
In the key of C this chord is G--B--D--F; in the key of D it is
A--C[sharp]--E--G; in the key of A[flat] it is E[flat]--G--B[flat]--D[flat],
210. A suspension is the temporary substitution of a tone a degree
higher than the regular chord-tone, this temporary tone being later
replaced by the regular chord-tone. See Fig. 76 (a).
211. A retardation is the temporary substitution of a tone a degree
lower than the regular tone, this tone (as in the case of the
suspension) being later replaced by the regular chord tone. See Fig. 77
The regular chord tone to which both suspension and retardation
resolve is called the tone of resolution.
212. The anticipation is a chord-tone introduced just before the rest
of the chord to which it belongs is sounded. See Fig. 78 (a).
213. A pedal point (or organ point) is a tone sustained through a
succession of harmonic progressions, to the chords of some of which it
usually belongs. The term pedal point originated in organ playing,
(where the foot on a pedal can sustain a tone while the hands are
playing a succession of harmonies), but as now used it may be applied to
any kind of music. The dominant and tonic are the tones most often used
in this way. See Fig. 79.
214. When the upper three voices of a four-voice composition are written
close together (the soprano and tenor never appearing more than an
octave apart), the term close position is applied. But when the upper
voices are not written close together, the term open position is
215. By transposition is meant playing, singing, or writing a piece of
music in some other key than the original. Thus e.g., if a song
written in the key of G is too high in range for a soloist, the
accompanist sometimes transposes it to a lower key (as F or E), thus
causing all tones to sound a second or a third lower than they did when
the same song was played in the original key.
Next: Miscellaneous Terms
Previous: Rhythm Melody Harmony And Intervals