So I've started doing AMEB* Grade 4 theory, and came across this question:

the question in...question.

Normally, I would have no problem if they gave me the bass, but in this case, I'm slightly confused. How are you supposed to go about this? Each note could have at least three possible chords, so how do I work out which one's which? Also, where are the cadence points?

*AMEB Stands for the Australian Music Examination Board. It's the standard assessment board for anyone wanting to learn an instrument in Australia.

  • When they stop spoon feeding you they will stop giving you a bass line to harmonise.
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 16, 2022 at 11:17

6 Answers 6


The vocabularly allowed for cadences in AMEB grade 4 theory are the following chords: I, ii, IV, V and vi. You are not allowed to use V7 until grade 6 theory otherwise it would be ideal for the final cadence. You are also allowed to harmonize other parts of the melody with first inversion chords but not the cadences so the chords that you are allowed to use for cadence points will look like this:


You have four cadence points, one at the end the end of each phrase (the phrases are marked by the four slurs) The last cadence must be Perfect or Plagal as both these cadences indicate a final close. In this case it must be a Perfect cadence as chord IV will not fit under the second last note. As chords must be in root position, you place an A in the bass under the second last note followed by a D under the final note, then fill in the two middle voices (doubling the bottom note in each chord)

The other three cadences will be types of imperfect cadence (ie. ending on chord V). I'd suggest using ii-V at the end of the first cadence point (approaching the LN from above), IV-V for the second (make the bass rise a step and the other three fall) and I-V for the third one (which will resemble a "reverse" perfect cadence)

Remember that the best note to double is the root of each chord unless you are doing an interrupted cadence (V-vi) where you would double the middle note in chord vi.


A cadence point is, to a melody, what the punctuation is in a sentence. Cadences are "points of rest" or "points of resolution". You create cadences by completing a chord progression, often but not always ending in a I chord. When that chord progression is completed, the next one begins.

So you should look in this melody for logical places to create cadences. In this case it's mapped out for you because of the structure of the slurs. Make a cadence at the end of each slur.

For the different types of cadences, see this Wikipedia article.


Two thoughts:

  • Look at the linear shape of the melody. Notice implied harmonies for each measure. Consider which notes might be important (clear chord tones) and which ones are less important (neighbor and / or passing tones).

  • Look at how the melody is accented agogically. Notice which notes have longer durations than others. In a melody, longer notes are typically more important. Notice how often the longer notes appear (every two measures for example) and plan your harmonic pacing around the agogic pacing of the melody.


It might be easiest to work backwards -- the most obvious cadence point is going to be the last few notes. You can bet the last chord is expected to be the I, D major. Prior to that you would expect a V(7) or occasionally the IV. We see an E in the melody so assume V7, or A7 in our key of D. Just before that is an F#, what might that be? It doesn't quite fit V7 exactly, so something that normally comes before a V... well a subdominant-type chord would have a G or G#, and the F# doesn't fit that at all, but something else common does... (can you figure it out?)

Measure 4 is halfway through, and screams for a "half cadence" to V or V7.

That's how I would approach it, although it's not clear exactly how much you need to harmonize. The long notes on the even-numbered bars are also targets for cadences ("moments of rest" as has already been stated) but at a minimum I would show cadences to bars 4 and 8. Hope this helps.

I guess you can also do an approach chord for the note before which I would suggest as a V or a VI, making a normal perfect cadence.


Cadence points can be at the end of each line, but definitely at the end of a verse or chorus.It could, for the quoted question, be the end of each phrase, and probably is. In this case, taking the end of the first line, it's an imperfect cadence, I-V, the second line ending on a perfect cadence, V-I, probably playing the V on the last beat of bar 7.

Yes, each note in a tune could have a choice of 3 or more chords, but tunes rarely have chord changes 3 or 4 to the bar. So you look at the first note in a bar, and see if other notes in that same bar fit to a chord. Take bar 3: F#, A and D. Fits squarely into a Dmaj. chord.Bar 4 could have a Bmin., as 3 of the notes fit it.


You start by determining where the cadence points are. At a general grade 4 level it should be uncommon that the cadences would not be every 4 bars. You look at the note that they give. These notes that they give could only be in one of three chords.

At the first Cadence it look like a Imperfect Cadence with a passing chord as decoration. So for the last 3 beats leading into the I - I 6/4 - V (With the option of having the Dominant with or without its seventh.)

The second cadence looks like a plain old Perfect Cadence V - I. I hope you are comfortable with the use of the Dominant Seventh and the use of the Passing 6/4 chord progressions as this question just about begs for the use of them.

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