I was perusing my Kostka/Payne book for something when I noticed this chart which I either never paid attention to or forgot :-)

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I understand its meaning, but it leads to some interesting possibilities that I never really thought of. Cadences that would seem to be at home in a 'modal' style, like...

Plagal: ii | I
Half  : I  | IV
Half  : I  | ii

Is this chart generally accepted?

I thought a half cadence must end on a V and that a plagal cadence was defined by the 'first chord' being IV or iv.

  • 1
    Thousands of theorists teach using the Kostka/Payne. Those thousands of theorists hate that they teach with the Kostka/Payne.
    – Richard
    Jan 10, 2019 at 18:09
  • This is not completely consistent with other classical texts I've seen.
    – user50691
    Jan 10, 2019 at 18:22
  • @Richard I’m one of the professors that teaches from it, but I just don’t get the hate that so many have for it. I’d probably prefer to use Aldwell/Schachter, and I was definitely impressed with Clen/Marv when I taught at a school that uses it, but I just don’t think K/P is that bad. Oh well, this chart is definitely not their most shining hour. Jan 10, 2019 at 20:38
  • Any opinions on Elie Siegmeister's Harmony and Melody? That two volume textbook and Piston's Counterpoint are the two textbooks I like best in my modest collection. I don't count Gjerdingen and Caplin, those don't seem like textbooks to me. (You probably know I'm not a teacher.) Jan 10, 2019 at 20:47
  • 1
    Would bII7-I count as an authentic cadence, then? It's rad tritone substitution, but....
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 11, 2019 at 0:58

1 Answer 1


Yeah, that chart only makes sense when you take in the rest of the context. I think they’re just trying to point to the primary distinction between conclusive and progressive cadences, with a side issue about presence of a leading tone.

I don’t know anyone, including K&P, that regularly talk about half cadences ending on anything other than V. One could maybe make an argument for vii°, but you’d have to do a lot of fancy footwork to claim that a phrase can “cadence” on a dissonant harmony. However, there is at least one other kind of Plagal cadence discussed by K&P using ii instead of IV: ii6/5 – I. Of course, as they point out themselves, this could very easily be interpreted as a IVadd6 instead of ii6/5, and that’s probably a less dubious interpretation.

So I don’t think it’s a great chart, especially out of context.

  • 1
    "Straight Outta Context!" ...just a little NWA joke there :-) Probably the first thing I do when presented something like that chart is apply it out of context. I wrote out every diatonic pairing for each category just to see what I would get. Jan 10, 2019 at 18:21
  • Haha, actually could lead to some interesting musical ideas. Jan 10, 2019 at 18:22
  • Gangsta Madrigals, anyone? Jan 10, 2019 at 18:23

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