I have learned that a period is made up of two phrases, the antecedent and consequent phrase. In this melody we have two periods in the verse. Do I simply say: bars 1-2 is antecedent, bars 3-4 is consequent? I was taught that a consequent ends on the I chord. It doesnt work for this melody. Where is the antecedent and consequent phrase in this melody? http://runeberg.org/img/sondag/0250.5.png

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Not heard of antecedent or consequent, but it must mean question and answer to the commn man. In this piece, the first four bars are the question, stopping on an imperfect cadence - as questions often do - making the last four bars the answer, coming to a perfect cadence.

  • Antecedent/consequent of a period phrase structure.Is this maybe an American/British thing? – Michael Curtis May 22 at 13:13
  • @MichaelCurtis - sounds convoluted enough to be real English! Q and A is what it means though... – Tim May 22 at 13:17
  • 2
    Convoluted how? They are simply neutral structural terms. Something like the first 8 bar antecedent phrase of a minuet isn't asking a question. Typically antecedent just means the first part end with a half cadence. – Michael Curtis May 22 at 13:50
  • Antecedent and consequent are standard musical terms in classical music theory. – Ansel Chang May 23 at 23:29

I assume that @Hank provided the correct score...

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...the music is in D major.

The antecedent and consequent parts are 4 bar phrases.

The first, the antecedent, ends on the dominant chord A major. You could say the phrase ending modulates to A major and label it A: I, or if you want to label it all in D major, the final two chords of the antecedent would be D: V/V V. Either way the important thing is the final chord of the phrase is A major which is the dominant chord in D major.

The second, the consequent, ends on the I chord D major forming a perfect cadence.

The two parts, the antecedent and consequent, and especially the paired structure of a cadence on the dominant setting up tension which is resolved by the consequent perfect cadence, together are called a period.

In the case that melodic material is similar between the antecedent and consequent the period can be called parallel. I highlighted in yellow the similar melodic parts. I would call this a parallel period, because most of the melodic material is similar.

You can use metaphorical terms like 'question/answer', 'up/down', 'open/close', 'cause/effect', etc. if you like, but 'antecedent/consequent' are the formal, neutral terms.

If you want to really abstract the period concept, you probably can say the consequent is a phrase ending as a perfect cadence in the main key and the antecedent ends with any cadence that isn't the consequent. Half or deceptive cadences or a cadence in the dominant key would be the most likely antecedents.

If you're in a minor key, your antecedents will likely target the dominant or relative major.

Hymns like this one will exhibit periodic structure, but you can also find examples in classical dance forms like the minuet, and in 32 bar jazz standards.


1-2 question 3-4 answer 5-6 question 7-8 answer

this are 2-bar phrases, the bar 4 is semi final (dominant chord), bar 8 final.

I would use the concept of antecedent and consequent for a 4 bar sentence. in German this form is called:

1-4 "Vordersatz" -> Halbschluss 5-6 "Nachsatz" -> Ganzschluss

I think Vordersatz and Nachsatz are equivalent to antecedent and consequent.

The 8 bars will be a "Satz" (sentence) or as you say a period, while in German the 8 bar-period is: phrase, phrase repetion, phrase development, final phrase, (each 2 bars).

As you see the terms phrase, Satz, period are very "stressed."

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