Plagal Cadence

Amen Cadence

"Plagal cadence", also called "Amen cadence", is a type of musical cadence that involves the progression from the IV chord to the I chord. Unlike the more common perfect cadence (V-I), which creates a strong sense of resolution, the plagal cadence imparts a gentler, amen-like feeling, often associated with religious or hymnal music. It is characterized by its peaceful and conclusive quality, adding a sense of finality to a musical phrase.

The plagal cadence is often represented by the chord progression IV-I in a musical composition. The IV chord (subdominant) provides a harmonically stable base, while the I chord (tonic) brings a sense of resolution. This cadence is notably used at the end of phrases or sections in hymns and religious music, contributing to the reverent and serene atmosphere often found in sacred contexts.

The term "Amen cadence" arises from its frequent use at the end of hymns or prayers, where the word "Amen" is traditionally sung or recited. This reinforces its association with religious worship and reinforces the idea of closure, affirmation, and peaceful resolution.

For example, in the key of C major, a plagal cadence would involve transitioning from the F chord (IV) to the C chord (I). This progression concludes the musical passage with a sense of calm and contentment.

The plagal cadence serves as a contrasting alternative to the more decisive perfect cadence, offering a different emotional quality. Its gentle resolution makes it suitable for conveying a sense of solemnity, comfort, and spiritual fulfillment in various musical contexts.

Example of Plagal Cadence

The Plagal Cadence - Music Theory