A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Interrupted Cadence

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INTERRUPTED CADENCE is a progression which seems to tend towards the final Tonic chord of a perfect cadence through the usual Dominant harmony, but is abruptly deflected; so that the promised conclusion is deferred by the substitution of other harmony than that of the Tonic, after the Dominant chord which seemed to lead immediately to it.

The form which is frequently quoted as typical is that in which the chord of the submediant or third below the Tonic is substituted for the final Tonic chord, as—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f << \new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"church organ"}  \relative f' { <f b>1 <e c'> \bar "||" } \new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"church organ"} { \clef bass <g d'>1 <a c'> } >> }
instead of
{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f << \new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"church organ"} \relative f' { <f b>1 <e c'> \bar "||" } \new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"church organ"} { \clef bass <g d'>1 <c c'> } >> }

from which the principle will be readily grasped.

In reality the number of different forms is only limited by the number of chords which can possibly succeed the Dominant chord, and it is not even necessary that the chord which follows it and makes the interruption shall be in the same key.

Handel frequently used the Interrupted Cadence to make the final cadence of a movement stand out individually and prominently. The following example, which is made to serve this purpose, is from his Fugue in B minor from the set of Six for the Organ, and is very characteristic of him:—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f << \new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"drawbar organ"} \key b \minor \time 2/4 \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \relative e'' << { d8 g fis e <d b fis>4 <cis ais fis> cis2\fermata | r4 e^\markup { \smaller \italic Adagio. } e <d b> cis2 <b fis d> \bar "||" } \\ { ais4 b s2 <b e,> | s4 <cis b e,> <cis ais fis> fis, fis4. e8 } \\ { s2*5 b'4 ais } >>
\new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"drawbar organ"} { \clef bass \key b \minor \relative e' { << { e8 cis d e s4 fis, g2 } \\ { fis2 ~ fis4 <cis fis,> <e cis b g>2\fermata } >> r4 <g g,> <fis fis,> <b b,> <fis fis,>2 b, } } >> }

It is interesting to compare this with the conclusion of the last movement of Schumann's Sonata for Pianoforte in G minor, where a very definite Interrupted Cadence is used for the same purpose of enforcing the final cadence of the work by isolation, and the process is carried out in a thoroughly modern spirit and on an extended scale. The Interrupted Cadence itself is as follows:—

{ \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 2/4 \key g \minor << \relative d'' { <d d'>4 <a d fis> | <bes d g> \afterGrace <fis d a>4  g,8 \mark "*" | <g' bis ces e g>2\fermata \bar "||" }
\new Staff { \clef bass \key g \minor \relative d { <d d,>4 r <d d'> << { \afterGrace <d d,>4 g,,8 ~ | \stemDown g2_\fermata } \\ { s4 <e'' g bes cis e>2 } >> } } >> }

Bach frequently used Interrupted Cadences to prolong the conclusion of a work, and a form which seems to have been a great favourite with him is that in which the Tonic minor seventh succeeds the Dominant chord, thereby leading to a continuance and enforcement of the Tonic in the succession of chords at the conclusion. There are very remarkable and beautiful examples of this in the Prelude in E♭ minor, No. 8, in the Wohltemperirte Clavier, the last—four bars from the end—being in the form above mentioned. The effect of this form of the Interrupted Cadence is most powerful when the seventh is in the bass, and of this there is a very striking instance in his Cantata 'Jesu, der du meine Seele,' which is as follows:—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical << \new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"trombone"} { \key bes \major \partial 2. \clef bass { \autoBeamOff s8 d' g f16([ ees)] g([ ees)] ees([^"*" d)] | e[^"*" c bes, c] d[ ees f g] aes[ g f g] aes[ bes c' d'] | ees'[ d' c' a!] b8.[ c'16] c'4 r \bar "||" } } \addlyrics { Aus dei -- nen Hän -- den rau -- _ _ _ _ _ ben. }
\new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"clav"} { \clef treble \key bes \major \relative f'' { s8 << { f16 ees f( ees d c) ees( d c b) } \\ { <d g,>8 <c g> aes <c aes> <g f> } >> | <c g e>4 r8 <bes g c,> <aes f c>4. <c f, c>8 | <ees, c a!>4 <d b f!> <c g es> r } }
\new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"clav"} { \clef bass \key bes \major \relative b, { s8 <b b,> <c c,> <aes aes'> <f f'> <g g'>_"*" | <bes bes,>4_"*" r8 e, f16( g aes bes) c8 a | fis4 g c, r } } >> }

Mozart uses the Interrupted Cadence in a similar manner to extend the movement or the section in which it occurs. As an example from him, which presents yet another form, the following from his Quartet in A, No. 5, may be taken:—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f << \new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"violin"} \key a \major \relative e'' << { e2 a, fis' gis, \mark "*" ais1^\sfp ~ ais8 b } \\ { gis2 a a d, | g fis~ fis4 } >>
\new Staff \with {midiInstrument = #"cello"} { \clef bass \key a \major \relative d' << { d2 cis b1 e2 d4 cis d } \\ { e,2 fis d e fis,2.\sf e4 d } >> } >> }

Beethoven also uses Interrupted Cadences for similar purposes to the instances quoted above; but latterly he employed them in a manner which it is important to take note of as highly characteristic and conspicuous in modern music. This is the use of them actually in place of a perfect cadence, taking them as a fresh starting point, by which means greater continuity is obtained. A well-known example is that at the end of the slow movement of the Appassionata Sonata, by means of which the two last movements are made continuous. Two very remarkable and unmistakeable instances occur also in the first movement of the Sonata in E (op. 109), one of which has already been quoted in the article Cadence. Another instance occurs in the Quartet in A (op. 132), where the 'working out' commences; the cadence of F major is interrupted at *, and the 'working out' commences in the next bar, proceeding immediately with modulation, as follows:

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \time 4/4 \key f \major << \relative f' { <f a>8 r <f bes> r <a c> r <g g'> r \mark "*" r4 << { a' } \\ { ees, } >> r2 R1 << { s1*2 a1 } \\ { a,1\pp ~ a\pp ~ a } >> }
\new Staff { \clef bass \key f \major \relative f << { f8^\p r f r f' r e r r4 c^\p r2 R1 s1 f,! fis } \\ { f8 s d s c s c s_\markup { \halign #-4 * } s4 f,2. f1\pp\( fis ees' d\) } >> } >> }

Wagner has made great use of this device, and by it secures at once the effect of a conclusion and an uninterrupted flow of the music; the voice or voices having a form which has all the appearance of a full cadence, and the instruments supplying a forcible Interrupted Cadence which leads on immediately and without break to the succeeding action. An example which will probably be familiar is that at the conclusion of the chorus at the beginning of the 4th scene of the 2nd act of Lohengrin, where Ortruda suddenly steps forward and claims the right to precede Elsa into the cathedral. Another instance which illustrates the principle very clearly is the following from the 3rd scene of the 1st act of Tristan und Isolde:—

{ \override Score.Rest #'style = #'classical \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \key g \major \partial 2 << \relative e'' << { e2^\markup { \smaller "mir          lacht    das   A   -   ben   -   teuer!" } b'4 r8 b, gis'4. fis8 \bar "||" \key c \major fis4 e r2 } \\ { s2 s <b a dis,>4 r s1 <e, cis bes>1 } \\ { s2 s1 | <g! e cis bes>2( fis8 r f e g4. fis8 f4 } >>
\new Staff { \key g \major \relative e'' { << { e4 cis <e gis> } \\ { <ais, gis cis,> <ais fis e> <b gis e b> } >> r \clef bass <b, fis b,> r_\markup { \halign #-8 "*" } \key c \major <g! g,!>2( <fis fis,>8) r <f f,> <e e,> <g g,>4. <fis fis,>8 <f f,>4 } } >> }

Beethoven also made occasional use of this device in Fidelio. One specially clear instance is in the Finale of the last act, at the end of Don Fernando's sentence to Leonora—'Euch, edle Frau, allein, euch ziemt es, ganz ihn zu befrei'n.' By such means as this, one scene is welded on to another, and the action is relieved of that constant breach of continuity which resulted from the old manner of coming to a full close and beginning again.