The so-called Andalusian cadence occurs when one harmonizes the descending tetrachord from tonic down to dominant with I–♭VII–♭VI–V.

Yet the progression ♭VI–♭VII–I seems just as common. It's especially common right after a V chord, because V moves to ♭VI deceptively and then moves by step up to tonic. This ends up creating the exact retrograde of the Andalusian cadence: V–♭VI–♭VII–I.

Is there a name for this latter progression?

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    Wow, I never realised that was the retrograde of the andalusian cadence!
    – user45266
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 20:40
  • Do you mean for the tonic chord to be a lower case 'i' for a minor tonic or 'I' for a major tonic? The Andalusian progession would use a minor 'i', but you used upper case which typically means major. Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 21:04
  • @MichaelCurtis In my experience, tonic is often major. But for the purposes of this question, tonic can be major or minor.
    – Richard
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 21:07
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    I had a theory teacher who called it the "le te do" ending referring to the solfege syllables, but I don't know if that is standard.
    – Peter
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 4:39
  • Possible duplicate of music.stackexchange.com/questions/22223/…
    – user53472
    Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 3:31

2 Answers 2


I've commonly heard this called the "Super Mario Brothers" progression, named for its nearly infamous use in the original Super Mario Brothers game when a level was beaten. That seems nonstandard, but it's the only name I've ever heard for it, and any musician who hears that name knows exactly what chords to play. If you need something to call this progression, this is the standard choice, as ridiculous as that sounds. This isn't the only time I've heard this used; I believe it's very widespread, and thus essentially almost a name.

Flagpole Fanfare

That piece of music has also been repeatedly quoted and paraphrased throughout the entire Mario franchise. Of course, the progression itself has been used in plenty of other contexts, and it sounds quite nice.

EDIT: I'm not making this up, I now have a source!

And also at 7:00, 12 Tone discusses the opposite of the Andalusian Cadence! How perfect!

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    If some said to me "super mario brothers" progression, I wouldn't have the slightest idea what they meant. Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 20:57
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    Just because one person on youtube calls it a "Mario cadence" does not mean that's the correct terminology for it. There may not be an official name for it and then some may call it that due to it being the first example that comes to mind. If that's the case that's not really a name, but an example.
    – Dom
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 4:55
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    @user45266 - By "This isn't the only time I've heard this used", do you mean the name or the cadence? The cadence is fairly common (I remember it most prominently in Waterflame's "Superwing Heroes"), but your answer is the first time I've seen it referred to with a name involving Super Mario Bros.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 6:16
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    If you just Google "Mario cadence", results do turn up, no it's not a super common name for it, but given that nobody's turning up any other unambiguous names for it either, that's fine. @Dom, There's no such thing as an "official" name, there's no High Arbiter Of Naming Things. There isn't even a clear line between "common example" and "name" -- consider how "I Got Rhythm chord progression" became "rhythm changes" over time.
    – Esther
    Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 13:38
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    I knew this cadence by this goofy name as well :) Here's another source that uses this term (still from YouTube, though) : youtube.com/watch?v=jx7BcbS15tU It seems to me that this name really picked up, especially in the younger sprectrum of musicians.
    – 021
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 9:22

The Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World calls it an Aeolian cadence, and I was able to find some matching usage online, but I'm not convinced it's any more widely-used a term than "Mario cadence". Also, unfortunately, the phrase is ambiguous in many circles -- it was used in a poorly-written analysis of The Beatles' Not A Second Time (which contains no such ♭VI-♭VII-I cadence), and alternate definitions attempting to make sense of this analysis dominate the first page of Google results for the phrase.

Your first commenter might be onto something with "retrograde Andalusian cadence", though it's a little bit of a mouthful. The phrase is immediately clear thanks to the direct reference to a much more well-known chord progression, and although it is less precise than Mario/Aeolian, sometimes that imprecision is what you want (e.g., when discussing both the minor tonic and major tonic variations).


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