The finale of Dvorak 9 in E minor cadences D7/A - E. I heard from somewhere that it can be viewed as one kind of a plagal cadence and I'm wondering if that's true.

  • 3
    It depends on how broadly you interpret the term 'plagal cadence'.
    – PiedPiper
    Jun 4 at 14:45

1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking, there is only one type of plagal cadence: IV (or iv) moving to I (or i).

However, the cadence in question does have important features in common with a plagal cadence.

  1. Like a plagal cadence, it contains a strong movement from ^4 to ^1. All of the lowest instruments in each section play A moving to E. The presence of C in the chord also helps suggest A minor.
  2. Also like a plagal cadence, it lacks a leading tone. To quote William Caplin (by way of Wikipedia)

the progression IV–I cannot confirm a tonality (it lacks any leading-tone resolution)

However, at this point in the piece, E minor has been firmly establish, and since the tonic E is well in one's ears, the transition to E major doesn't require a strong leading-tone motion, just a transitional harmony, which the D7 provides.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.