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In this chord progression, | I vi IV V | I vi IV V | I |, there seems to be a perfect cadence that occurs at the end of one chord progression/measure (V) and the beginning of the next chord progression/measure (I). Is this still taught as a perfect cadence or is the progression 'left hanging'?

This lesson has it seem that the chord progression has to end on the tonic in order to have a perfect cadence (https://colinarcher99.medium.com/chord-progressions-part-2-92e90e942000)

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  • You need to read further into the referenced link. A music phrase ending on V is a "half cadence".
    – Aaron
    Jun 15 at 4:06
  • Yes but the phrase does not end it goes back to the tonic from the V. The V is resolved and not left hanging. If you read my post I explained this. There is a perfect cadence it just happens when the progression repeats. Jun 15 at 5:31
  • I'm not following the question then. If the phrase keeps going, then the chord progression hasn't ended either. Cadences by definition only happen at the ends of phrases. V going to I in the middle of a phrase isn't a cadence.
    – Aaron
    Jun 15 at 5:33
  • That website says a perfect cadence involves a chord progression as (I IV V I). The cadence in every example happens before the progression ends. Jun 15 at 5:35
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    I tried to rewrite your question based on our discussion, but please let me know if I failed to capture your intent.
    – Aaron
    Jun 15 at 5:54
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Before answering, some clarification of terms.

  • chord progression: Any sequence of two or more chords
  • measure: A set number of musical pulses
  • phrase: A complete musical idea, typically ending with a cadence
  • cadence: A special chord progression creating a sense of pause or ending

Chord progressions, measures, and phrases all can act independently of each other. A phrase can span one or more measures, including partial measures, so a cadence can occur and the end of a measure, or anywhere at the beginning or middle as well. It's fine for a cadence to occur across the boundaries of a measure, such as the V chord at the end of one measure and the I chord at the beginning of the next.

A chord progression corresponding to a musical phrase, would end in a cadence. Given the above relationship between phrases and measures, a chord progression can begin or end at any point within a measure. "Chord progression", being a general term, could encompass just part of a phrase, a complete phrase, or multiple phrases — even an entire piece could be discussed in terms of its chord progression.

Regarding perfect cadences

A perfect cadence is a V chord followed by a I chord, but a V chord followed by a I chord is not necessarily a perfect cadence. A V chord followed by a I chord at the end of a phrase is a perfect cadence, but V-I chords can occur anywhere within a phrase.

This is true for any set of cadential chords. They can occur anywhere within a phrase; it's only at the end of a phrase that they form a cadence.

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  • I like this answer. It seems to me OP was a little confused by certain terms - this clears up that. The example OP uses is the basic U.K. explanation of cadences - excluding all the U.S.(?) subtle alterations - which is a good thing here. Bars (measures) have little relationship with cadences.Chord progressions are not necessarily correspondent to phrases. It seems only two cadences are actually cadences - perfect and plagal. Others aren't cadences - hence 'half-cadence - as they don't (usually) end a sequence. Your last para. - are cadential chords actually cadential when they're not ...
    – Tim
    Jun 15 at 7:12
  • ...at the end of that phrase. I'd say they're just chords.
    – Tim
    Jun 15 at 7:13
  • When going from ii-I , is this not a cadence? I can't find any name for such a cadence. It doesn't sound too bad playing I-IV-ii-I. Jun 15 at 20:42
  • @PabbleGoobs A cadence is just an ending point. In that respect, anything can be a cadence. But some cadences are so common, like V-I, that they receive names. ii-I can certainly serve as a cadence, it just doesn't have a special name.
    – Aaron
    Jun 15 at 20:45
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No. It can go in different places in regard to bar lines. But, as Aaron pointed out, cadences end phrases, so identify phrases and the cadences that demark them.

A few terms to be aware of regarding phrase endings (cadences) and bar lines (metrical position) are:

  • masculine ending where the final cadence chord is on beat one after a bar line
  • feminine ending where the final cadence chord is on the last beat of a measure, or at least after beat one
  • elision, elided phrases where the ending of one phrase and the beginning of the next phrase overlap.
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A cadence comes at the end of a musical phrase. A phrase doesn't necessarily end at a barline. Here's three cadences.

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