I remember in college hearing about people playing minor 'pranks' using this device, however I've forgotten the name and I can't remember the exact details.

It has to do with notes (possibly sevenths?) being raised or flattened according to whether they are being sung in a descending or ascending line; when they combine they sound 'weird' nowadays but apparently the Elizabethans (or whoever) loved it! So you can annoy your conductor/choir leader by using this device in any choral music (hilarious I know!).

But I can't for the life of me remember the name of the device, does anyone know? Thanks!


It's called the English cadence. It combines 7 and ♭7 simultaneously, and was used up to roughly Purcell's time in the UK. You can find an example at the end of Thomas Tallis's Spem in allum. Here's another example from Tallis (O sacrum convivium):

enter image description here

  • 3
    *I was also thinking of the term 'false relation'. May 7 '16 at 16:59
  • @ChristopheLynch, that's also correct terminology, but false (or cross) relations also include cases where two voices state the natural and altered degree in close succession, not just simultaneously.
    – user16935
    May 7 '16 at 17:18
  • Perhaps this is obvious, but I'll just add that this English cadence is only effective if the voice leading works correctly, as it does in the Tallis example above. If you just randomly toss a G natural into an E major chord, it will just sound wrong. May 9 '16 at 18:28

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.