Plagal Cadence

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Related to plagal cadences: Half cadence
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Plagal Cadence


a type of harmonic cadence in which the final tonic chord is preceded by the subdominant (for example, Plagal Cadence

The plagal cadence is the opposite of the principal type, the perfect (authentic) cadence, in which the progression is from the dominant to the tonic. Compared with the perfect cadence, it is gentler, less dynamic, and less intense. Because it is frequently encountered at the end of Renaissance polyphonic compositions, the plagal cadence is also called the church cadence. The plagal cadence is used in Russian music, especially folk music, with its typical IV-I ending. An example of the plagal quality of Russian music is Sadko’s song “Oh, Dark Little Leafy Grove,” from the second scene of N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Sadko.


Trambitskii, V. N. “Plagal’nost’ i rodstvennye ei sviazi v russkoi pesen-noi garmonii.” In the collection Voprosy muzykoznaniia, fasc. 2. Moscow, 1955.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.