A cadential extension

Further thoughts on the (so-called) plagal cadence:

The example from pop (I – V – vi – IV – repeat ad lib) provided by the commenter “LucasMan” at the page linked to in my previous post is obviously not a plagal cadence.  I’m not sure it contains a cadence at all, really.  At most, the arrival on IV might be considered a kind of deceptive cadence.  But the musical “units” are clearly divided between the IV and the subsequent I; the I is a point of departure, not arrival.  That the I is not a dovetailing of both an arrival and a departure (as sometimes happens) is borne out by the fact that, far and away, this harmonic formula is most commonly used in pop several times over until finally, at a certain point, it indeed gives way to a real dominant; it’s simply taken several “tries” to get there.

A slightly better (but not ultimately convincing) example would have been to cite this common pop progression: I – IV – I – IV – I – IV – V – IV – I.  It’s possible to view the V that eventually appears as an upper neighbor to the IV, meaning that the only functional harmonies present are IV and I.  But when that V comes along in this progression, it carries with it such a feeling of emphasis, of arrival, that I’m very reluctant to rob it of functionality.  A slightly more complex (but, I think, musically correct) interpretation would be that the IV appearing between the V and the I is an interpolation – an incomplete lower neighbor which does not affect the function of the V as a dominant.


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