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Lesson 5.8 - Chords at Cadence Points

Following on from the previous lesson you will also be required to choose two or three chords to fit a melody at the end of a phrase (called a cadence).

The chords you have to choose from are the same as those in the previous lesson, i.e. I, II, IV & V.

To make it easier you do not have to state at this stage which inversion of the chord you are going to use.

There are also set patterns of  "chord progressions" that are used at cadence points, so if you learn these progressions you can't go wrong. In Grade 5 ABRSM Music Theory, you will only need:

V - I
IV - I
I - V
II - V
IV - V

There may also be a third chord to choose just before the final two but this will be quite obvious as you will have already used up two of the options and you cannot put two identical chords next to each other so that narrows down the possibilities.

So how do you decide which chords to choose?

Like you did in the previous lesson simply follow a few simple rules.

1. Decide what key you are in - these will be very basic major keys in the examination.

2. Write out (as you did the last time) the notes of the triads I, II, IV & V

3. Deal with the last two chords of a cadence first and find which chords have notes in common with the melody line. There may be more than one answer but if you remember to use the "chord progressions" above that will narrow it down. There may also be more than one melody note for each chord in which case just "harmonize" the first melody note above the chord.

4. If applicable work out any third chord preceding the last two.


So let's try an example:

Choose chords at the places marked * to fit the melody lines at the following cadence.

Choose chords at the places marked * to fit the melody lines at the following cadence, which is in F major
Using the rules described above,
1. The key is F major.

2. Chord I - F, A, C
    Chord II - G, B♭, D
    Chord IV - B, D, F
    Chord V - C, E, G

3. The 2nd chord could be II or V
    The 3rd chord could be I or IV
    The only possible chord progression that fits the above permutations is V to I.

4. The first chord could have been I or IV but since I has been used it is more likely to be IV.

Therefore the complete progression is IV - V - I

Now it's your turn!!

Download the FREE worksheet with answers for this lesson HERE

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