So I started writing a waltz. I have been mainly focusing on the bass line because I got advice from someone that if I focus on the bass progression, the basic melody will just come to me. And once I have that basic melody, I can embellish it however many times I want until I get a pretty melody that isn't boring. And I have made 2 images of the same section, one to highlight the different parts and the other to make the notes easier to see.

Here are the notes:

enter image description here

As you can see, I end with a first inversion tonic chord which still has tonic function but is less stable.

And here is the one with the colors highlighting the structure:

enter image description here

Highlighted in red is the first phrase which ends with a half cadence(which I think is at the dominant triad instead of the seventh chord and that the seventh chord is just to transition to the second phrase). Highlighted in blue is the second phrase. And highlighted in green is the authentic cadence at the end of the second phrase.

This is an imperfect authentic cadence because while the dominant triad is a regular cadential dominant, the tonic triad after it is in first inversion. I wasn't wanting too much finality but I wasn't sure that I wanted to extend the structure either, using a half cadence. The IAC is like the middle ground between an HC which gives a sense more music is coming and a PAC which gives a sense of total finality.

So I was wondering, is it okay to end my period with an IAC like I did or should I do a leap to root position and end with a PAC?

  • 1
    Everything is ok. You can do whatever you want, you’re the writer. If you like the way it sounds, then keep it. – Todd Wilcox Jan 26 '19 at 18:09
  • The chord structure is going to make writing the tune fun. Are you using five bar phrases? I find it a weird way to write music but each to his own. . . – PeterJ Jan 27 '19 at 10:17
  • @PeterJ I don't know yet if I will use 5 bar phrases or not, but I have noticed with my phrases and melodies in general that they tend to be long which is why I have an 11 bar antecedent and a 12 bar consequent. – Caters Jan 27 '19 at 15:41
  • @Caters - Actually I tried your five-bar phrases and they're interesting. They might trip the dancers up but I can see them working for a quirky waltz tune. . – PeterJ Jan 28 '19 at 10:13
  • The first green bar is sure to trip up dancers trying to waltz..! – Tim Jan 28 '19 at 17:19

I see that some are calling this "opinion based," but I think that's a little misguided, because there is a clear definition of "period" that helps answer your question.

A large part of what defines a period is that the second cadence is more conclusive than the first. Without this weak–strong pattern, we don't have a period structure (at least not in the classical style).

With this in mind, your antecedent ends with a half cadence. Your consequent ends with an authentic cadence, which is more conclusive. Ergo, this is an adequate period structure.

Having said that, a root-position tonic would be still more conclusive than your inverted tonic. As such, your music may leave the listener with unresolved tension that you can work with throughout the rest of your composition.

  • 1
    So it doesn't matter that my strong cadence is weak compared to a PAC, just that the ending cadence in the consequent phrase is stronger than a half cadence. And in a way, it is good that I ended my first period with an IAC because this will naturally lead into the rest of the waltz. – Caters Jan 27 '19 at 1:34
  • @Caters, exactly. However, this is really only in response to your question about the structure of a musical period. You are not required to stick to that structure. Phrase groups can have all kinds of cadence patterns that don't necessarily conform to the structure of a "period." Heck, I have ended several pieces with an IAC because the soprano/melody ends on the third instead of the tonic. It still sounds final, just in a wistful way. What's most important is the effect that you want, and it sounds like the IAC is doing that for you in this spot. – Heather S. Jan 27 '19 at 10:59

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