When it comes to part-writing in a V7-I cadence, I understand that the leading tone in an outer voice must resolve to the tonic (^7->^1) and that the chordal 7th of the V7 (^4) should resolve down by step to ^3.

So, when writing a melody over this chord change, I usually focus on one of these guidelines. That being said, I am growing tired of the cliche/expected feeling of these obvious (though satisfying) ways to resolve tension in the melody line.

Can you suggest any other possibilities for the soprano line that is satisfying like the ^4-^3 or the ^7-^1 but that has a little more character? Are there any popular embellishments of the typical patterns that I should be aware of? Just wondering how to write something catchy but not tacky. Thanks.


  • 2
    Just a minor clarification: PAC (i.e., perfect authentic cadence) generally refers to a cadence with scale degree 1 in the soprano. If you are ending a phrase with soprano resolving 4-3, that's often called an IAC (imperfect authentic cadence). If you're just talking about V7-I in general, that's just an "authentic cadence" (or, in some parts of the world, a "perfect cadence," but not a PAC).
    – Athanasius
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 18:57
  • Very good to know. Thank you @Athanasius . How does know when is the appropriate time for these? What are the various effects each has?
    – 286642
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 19:20
  • Generally, a PAC is considered more final and "complete" as a cadence compared to an IAC. These days, you can use whatever sounds good, though it's more common to end a song (or part of a song, like the verse or refrain) with a PAC. In classical music, the uses were more restricted, and a composer like Mozart might use an IAC as a middle cadence in a theme, but reserve a PAC for the end of a theme or the end of an entire section of a movement.
    – Athanasius
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


I'm surprised ^2-^1 hasn't occurred to you yet. It's pretty satisfying, IMO, as it resolves by step.

A voicing of V7-I resolved with ^2-^1 in the soprano will often have no ^5 in the I chord, but that could very well be fine.

  • 1
    Just wanted to add to the notion that it's okay to omit the 5th of the tonic chord at a cadence. Bach sometimes tended toward the "frustrated leading tone" in an inner voice, dropping down from scale degree 7 to 5 in order to have a complete, full-sounding tonic triad. I think the occurrence of this motion in Bach's chorale style leads people to think it was more common in classical style in general than it actually was. Best to resolve the leading tone, even when in an inner voice, and even if it results in an incomplete triad. That's what folks like Haydn or Mozart would do almost always.
    – Athanasius
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 18:54

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