cadence, in music, the ending of a phrase or composition. In singing the voice may be raised or lowered, or the singer may execute elaborate variations within the key. In instrumental music, with development of the theory of harmony, the cadence became completely dependent on the change of chord. If the dominant chord comes before the tonic, the cadence is authentic, or perfect; if the subdominant chord comes before the tonic, the cadence is plagal. If the dominant chord leads into another harmony, the cadence is called deceptive, or interrupted. The reverse order of tonic to dominant is a half cadence, or imperfect.
See W. Piston, Harmony (3d ed. 1962).
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