Focusing on Cadence / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

Taking a look at Cadence

Now that we learned about avoid notes and 6th chords, we will be diving back into chords and song structure.

In our 31st article, we took a look at Cadence (the shortest form of chord progression) using tonic/subdominant/dominant chords.

This time, we will look at cadences found at the end of a song, an end of a song section, or as a bridge between different parts.

✳︎ There are different idealogies for classic and contemporary music,
but we will be focusing on more usable ideas.

Cadence Variations
Perfect Resolution

This is used at the end of a song or to settle down a chord progression.
It is also known as authentic standard, dominant resolution, or dominant motion in Japan.

Ex) V7(V)→I,Imaj7
✳︎ Strong cadence using V7 containing the tritone.

The final D→T from T→SD→D→T in our 31st article includes this cadence.


The final chord progression from our dominant to tonic motion article included this cadence.


There are 2 ways to thinking about cadences.
Keep these in mind when putting melodies and chords together.

  • Perfect Cadence – Top note (or melody) as Tonic (root)
  •  A powerful sense of complete ending

  • Imperfect Cadence – Top note (or melody) not as Tonic (root)
  •  A less complete ending than the perfect cadence

If you listened to both in consecutive order, you most likely noticed the difference.


Imperfect Resolution

It creates a sense for what comes next without a feeling of completion.

Ex) Ending with V7(V)

It is often used at the end of pop music intros and before choruses.
Using this adds an expectation for whats to come next.


Plagal Resolution

It is also called the amen resolution, and has a less conclusive ending with a more gentle landing.

Ex) Ending with SD→T

The T→D→”SD→T” sample from earlier had this resolution.


There are many historical songs that use this cadence after a perfect resolution.

Deceptive Resolution

It starts with the perfect resolution, and resolves with a subtitute of the T.

Ex) I-IV-V-VIm

Rather than going from the V to I, it creates a sense of deception.
Because it uses a substitute chord rather than the T, it creates a smooth motion into the next song portion.

Rather than using the T at the end of the T→SD→D→T progression,
lets try using the substitute VIm/VIm7.


It feels like the song will continue to go on.
Lets carry on and end with a perfect resolution at the end.


It continues from the deceptive resolution leading to the II-V-I and creates a sense of story to the chord progression.

This concludes a look at the basic cadences.
We will soon be ready to compose music using major diatonic chords.
Try out these progressions on your own music while learning!

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.