Note: Before you see the project, you can read my research about the perfect fifth and the tonic/dominant relationship here, important for the perfect cadence.
The exercise for this project is to create 4 different examples of dressing up the perfect cadence, two in major and two in minor tonality.
My first example is in c minor:
Here is the audio version:
The tempo is allegretto and the mood of this five-bar example is very gloomy. The 2/4 time signature gives it a march like feeling. For dressing up, I used the secondary dominant F# and there is a bit of chromaticism – D-Db just before the tonic. There is a bit of contrapuntal feeling. For example, the upper voice seems to use the inversion of the figures in the bass in the second bar, and in the third, the bass uses the same 16th note motive that appeared in the upper part. Although the root note G does a perfect 5th jump down to C in bar 4, because of the added notes B and F#, it is only in the 5th bar with the repetition of the note that we get a sense of complete closure.
For my second example, I used E major:
Here is the audio:
Comparing to the previous gloomy march-like example, this one is more lively and dance-like, in 6/8. Although example 1 has a bit of polyphonic treatment, here the example is completely based on counterpoint, even approaching the three-voice imitation near the end, which can be seen in the way I’ve notated the parts, adding their rests where appropriate. I’ve also used more added tones in order to dress the cadence – C double #, E# and C, which resulted in a more modern feel of style. The perfect 5th jump down from dominant to tonic is also a bit more noticeable, but only its last, repeated figure provides the real sense of closure.
My third example is in B minor:
You can listen to the audio version below:
Contrasting the previous two, this example is a very stately and calm Adagio. The time signature I chose is the 7/8, combined with a very modal use of the tonality and the repetition of the rhythm. This resulted in a folkloric type of flavor, which I think itself created the dressing up of the cadence. I also focused on the homophonic progression of the chords, with no counterpoint. I played with dynamics a bit more, moving slowly from p into the f, where the resolution of the dominant into tonic begins. In the last bar, the final jump into the tonic confirms the key, which was blurred by the modality. Instead of the 5th jump down, I used the 4th inversion up.
The last example is in Eb major:
Here is the audio:
This is the fastest of the four examples, being in allegro. Here, I explored the dressing up even more by adding chromaticism, present all throughout the four bars. Because of the chromatic notes and fast tempo, there is a bit of whirlwind-like and chaotic mood produced. The jump into the tonic – once again the upward 4th (inversion of 5th) is more stable than in the other three examples I composed, so there was no need to reaffirm the cadence.
To conclude, I really enjoyed looking more extensively into the dominant-tonic relationship and the ways to dress up the perfect cadence. Although marked as important, usually in my prior studies, it’s something that is simply used without deeper exploration. By focusing on just the link between dominant-tonic, I discovered just how complex a seemingly simple harmonic connection actually is, gaining a new perspective on harmony in general. I think this resulted in some interesting examples for the project. Finally, for me, the project was also an introductory exercise on how to notate certain things for the piano, which is something I didn’t pay too much attention to before. Next, look at my project 14, where I explore the dominant even more.