On Cadences for Modes and Modal Cadence Options, Dom, Richard, and I came up with a group of modal cadences. Specifically (correct order from Ionian to Locrian):

  • Dom: ii-I, VII-i, II-i, II-I, VII-I, VII-i, [N/A]

  • Richard: V-I, VII-i, [II-i or vii-i], V-I, VII-I, VII-i, [N/A]

  • Me: [ii6-I or ii65-I], [ii6-i or ii65-i], [II-i or vii6-i], II6-I, VII-I, VI-i, iii6-i(no5)

Since all three of us came up with different ideas, I am wondering: is there any standard set of cadences for each of the seven modes?

  • 1
    Each mode can have more than 1 cadence, no?
    – b3ko
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 15:02
  • 1
    What do you mean by "standard" set of cadences? There are certainly cadences which are more common and less common, as your list shows. I don't know of any theoretical works on it, certainly none with any influence on composition. Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


There is not just one modal style. Do you mean Medieval modal, modal folk, modal jazz, modal rock? I'll address two.

In terms of standards, the clausula vera is the standard cadence in Medieval modal music. I think it is worth noting that even in this early style the mode could be chromatically altered to form a cadence. Your outline of cadences in the other two questions seem to require that the cadence be purely diatonic to maintain the quality of the mode. Within the Medieval that simply is not required. It's contrary to the style.

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For other modal styles - basically modern styles of folk, rock, jazz with modal flavoring - @Dom and @Richard lay out essentially the same idea. Tritones are avoided in the chords and root progressions, use root progression of descending 5th or 4th, or use root progression by step like bVII i or bII i, use root position chords. Notice that with these cadences unique chord qualities are not required. bVII i and v i (with a minor dominant) are common to both Dorian and Aeolian. Your outline of cadences also has this requirement for uniqueness, but that isn't required by this style.

Here are some examles of the song Drill, Ye Tarriers...

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...and another arrangement...

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We can see the modal quality in the melody from the lowered ^7 degree.

Between the two arrangements there is a fluidity in handling the cadences. V7 i, v i, and bVII i are all variously used.

Notice the ^6 degree is not used in the melody and it is not used in the two cadence chords. The ^6 is used in the repeated phrase "drill, ye tarriers..." in bVI before the cadence bVII i. Clearly the cadences do not need to contain unique modal tones, nor do they need to be modally pure.

From what I have seen in numerous folk songbooks this is very typical of how cadences are treated.

Siegmeister, Harmony & Melody. Vol II, Twentieth Century Melody p. 368. This textbook has about 25 pages devoted to the modes - excluding Locrian - in 20th century music. It specifically addresses the changed aspect of chord function in the various modes. Many musical quotes from real composers like Milhaud are included.

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