I have known the below cadence for some time as a feminine cadence. Example of a Classical Music style cadence

My (old) books state feminine cadence. I'm totally fine with a new politically correct term but the wikipedia article on cadences doesn't seem to mention it. Even to the point of saying that:

...the terms masculine and feminine were sometimes used to describe rhythmically "strong" or "weak" cadences...

... I consider quite inaccurate: I've always known the term as a feminine cadence. I was expecting a modified term (because the cadence's prominence in Classical music like Haydn and Mozart, being very much part of the style).
Is there a term for the above cadence?

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    When the second chord is not as strong as the last it is said to be feminine - so I think you have it right.
    – cmp
    Jul 5 '20 at 7:37
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    Is it political incorrect to use the terms feminine and masculine? It is still quite normal - statistically - that a woman wants a man who is strong and want to look up to him. Jul 5 '20 at 16:28
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    My opinion is: "I don't see it on wikipedia it must have been removed because it's politically incorrect". Looking into it more myself (I might do an answer to this question), the opposite words pairs masculine and feminine do seem to occur with strong and weak. It's giving a presumption that masculine is strong, feminine is weak; men strong, women weak: Which is just not acceptable to use. And it gets worse from music writers saying for e.g. "the more normal masculine" vs "the less normal feminine". I'm not comfortable giving cadences a gender, on reflection.
    – user70304
    Jul 6 '20 at 0:09
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    @AlbrechtHügli I know this is not the type of discussion for this site, but you pointed exactly at the problem: it is normal, and the language reinforces that normality, that genders are associated with derogative and hierarchical adjectives. It is certainly the normal and widespread ideas the ones that are difficult to question. Confusing normality with correctness will give you plenty surprises looking back in history
    – hirschme
    Jul 6 '20 at 14:53

Most cadences fall on the strong beat of the bar - generally the first, sometimes the third in 4/4. So a masculine perfect cadence, or iterrupted cadence would do that. In the example above, the end of the cadence lands on a weak part of the bar - the first beat being more of a suspended dominant, with the tonic as root note. Commonly called a feminine perfect cadence.

For those of sensitive nature, it seems there is no alternative term, however, a delayed, or suspended cadence seems to fit the bill - the 'masculine' version being the standard go-to. Suspended would refer to the cadence placing itself rather than the notes which constitute the harmony.

  • Yes I would agree with you at the moment. But I would think there probably will be an overhaul to the naming. It was more that wikipedia didn't show that cadence, and it being so prominent in the Classical era. I like "suspended cadence". I thought "Classical cadence" but might be too general and vague.
    – user70304
    Jul 5 '20 at 8:39

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