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I'm currently undertaking the AMEB theory grades. I'm up to grade 4 and am working on different types of cadences but I STILL don't understand how "piano style" (the one with the bass note in the bass and the other 3 notes in the treble) cadences work, how to write them, or the general rules of them. I seem to almost ALWAYS get the answer wrong. Every time I go to Google it, I can't find anything relevant because I guess the words 'piano' + 'style' put together aren't very distinct. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

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    “Piano style” sounds like a term specific to your teacher / school. It isn’t a standard musical term. Talk to your teacher about your confusion. – jjmusicnotes Sep 8 '18 at 12:18
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I believe the term you're looking for is keyboard style. To help your Internet searches, try "keyboard style voice leading."

In keyboard style, you write three-voice chords in the upper staff and a single bass voice in the lower staff; this is an attempt to mimic a standard keyboard texture:

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This is in contrast to chorale style, sometimes called SATB style, where you mimic the soprano–alto–tenor–bass orchestration of a choir. Oftentimes chorale style simply moves one voice of keyboard style by an octave:

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As for rules for writing cadences, it's a bit too broad to pinpoint exactly what you're asking, but here are some general rules:

  • The leading tone (scale-degree 7) must resolve up by step to tonic when it is in an outer voice (soprano or bass). If it is in an inner voice (alto or tenor), it can move down to scale-degree 5 (or, more rarely, up to scale-degree 3). Not knowing the AMEB system, I recommend resolving all leading tones up to tonic.
  • Since scale-degree 5 is present in both the V and I chords, just keep scale-degree 5 where it is (except for the bass, which will tend to move to scale-degree 1).
  • If you have a chordal seventh, this chordal seventh must resolve down by step. In a V7 chord, this will be scale-degree 4 moving down to scale-degree 3.
  • The remaining scale degree, scale-degree 2, can move up to scale-degree 3 or down to scale-degree 1.

The above are just broad tips assuming you're looking at V(7)–I cadences. But most importantly, the term keyboard style should help you access the necessary AMEB information online. Best of luck!

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