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Semi Final referred to in the music theory since the mid-19th century usually a span end, the final sound of a chord of the fifth stage ( dominant ) is the key that prevails at this point.


In this minuet by Christian Petzold (previously attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach as BWV Anh. 114 ) there are half-closings in bars 8, 20 and 28. In bar 24, on the other hand, a full-closing in the major fifth key in D major, into which there was previously modulation , ends . The major triad on d is at the end of this section tonic and only becomes the dominant of the main key G major through the c at the end of m. 24.

\ version "2.14.2" \ header {tagline = ## f} upper = \ relative c '' {\ clef treble \ key g \ major \ time 3/4 \ tempo 2 = 72% \ autoBeamOff \ repeat volta 2 { d4 g, 8 abc |  d4 g, g |  e 'c8 \ mordent de fis |  g4 g, g |  c \ mordent d8 cba |  b4 c8 bag |  f sharp4 g8 dec |  \ grace b8 (a2.) ^ \ markup {\ center-align "half-close"} d4 g, 8 abc |  d4 g, g |  e 'c8 \ mordent de fis |  g4 g, g |  c \ mordent d8 cba |  b4 c8 bag |  a4 b8 ag f sharp |  g2. ^ \ markup {\ center-align "full closing"}} \ repeat volta 2 {b'4 g8 ab a4 d, 8 e f sharp d g4 e8 f sharp gd c sharp4 ^ \ markup {\ center-align "half closing"} b8 cis a4 a8 b cis de fis g4 fis e fis a, cis d2. ^ \ markup {\ center-align "full closing"} d4 g, 8 fis g4 e 'g, 8 fis g4 d' cb a8 ^ \ markup {\ center-align "half-close"} g f sharp g a4 |  d, 8 e f sharp gave c4 b \ mordent a b8 dg, 4 f sharp <b, dg> 2. ^ \ markup {\ center-align "full closing"}}} lower = \ relative c '{\ clef bass \ key g \ major \ time 3/4 <gbd> 2 a4 |  b2.  c2.  b2.  a2.  g2.  |  d'4 bg |  d '^ \ markup {\ center-align "in G major: V"} d, 8 c' ba b2 a4 |  gbg c2.  b4 c8 bag a2 f sharp4 |  g2 b4 |  cdd, g2 ^ \ markup {\ center-align "in G major: I"} g, 4 g'2.  fis e4 ge a2 ^ \ markup {\ center-align "in D major: V"} a, 4 a'2.  b4 d cis d fis, ad ^ \ markup {\ center-align "in D major: I"} d, c '!  << {\ voiceOne r4 d2 r4 e2} \ new Voice {\ voiceTwo b2 b4 c2 c4} >> \ oneVoice bag d'2 ^ "in G major: V" r4 << {\ voiceOne r4 r f sharp,} \ new Voice {\ voiceTwo d2.  } >> \ oneVoice e4 g f sharp gb, dg ^ \ markup {"in G major: I"} dg,} \ score {\ new PianoStaff << \ new Staff = "upper" \ upper \ new Staff = "lower "\ lower >> \ layout {\ context {\ Score \ remove" Metronome_mark_engraver "}} \ midi {}}

Concept history

In the sense of the definition formulated above, Johann Philipp Kirnberger used the term “half cadence” in 1771, which puts the hearing “in a not completely calm state”, since one cannot “completely rest” on the dominant. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Friedrich Agricola have already used this term without a definition, but with regard to the corresponding sheet music examples . Anton Reicha, on the other hand, in his Traité de mélodie from 1814 (which was later translated into German by Carl Czerny ) also describes cadenzas as " demi-cadence " that end with the third tone of the tonic in the upper part and are therefore usually today as (imperfect ) Full clauses. Nowadays it is controversial whether the term should only apply when the final chord sounds as a dominant triad in its basic position or whether it can also be used when this sound appears as a triad inversion or a dominant seventh chord (possibly in inversion). This discussion is conducted in particular with regard to music of the 18th and early 19th centuries, where this latter type of inference does occur, albeit much less often than the first, which is why it can in any case be considered less typical.


Half-clauses are used on different formal levels, e.g. B.

  • within a topic (e.g. at the end of an antecedent),
  • at the end of a topic,
  • at the end of a transition or a bridge ,
  • at the end of a middle section or an implementation ,
  • at the end of an introduction or an intro ,
  • or (in multi-movement works) at the end of a head or middle movement.


Phrygian semicircle

The Phrygian semicircle is nowadays called semicircles in which the keynote of the dominant in the bass part is reached by stepping a small second down (in other words: by means of a semitone tenor clause ). An example of this would be the end of the main theme of the first movement of the 40th Symphony KV 550 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart :

WA Mozart, KV 550, first movement, Tsumugi Orchestra, conductor Takashi Inoue

\ version "2.14.2" \ header {tagline = ## f} upper = \ relative c '' {\ clef treble \ key g \ minor \ time 2/2 \ tempo 2 = 104% \ autoBeamOff << {\ voiceOne r4 fis ga bes c8 bes a4 g fis r4} \ new Voice {\ voiceTwo d1 cis d2} >>} lower = \ relative c '{\ clef bass \ key g \ minor \ time 2/2 << {\ voiceOne bes2 .  a4 g2 f sharp4 g a2} \ new Voice {\ voiceTwo e1 es!  d2} >>} \ score {\ new PianoStaff << \ new Staff = "upper" \ upper \ new Staff = "lower" \ lower >> \ layout {\ context {\ Score \ remove "Metronome_mark_engraver"}} \ midi {}}

Quint sales versus Halbcadenz

In his attempt to provide instructions on composition (this source is currently often used to analyze music from the 18th century) Heinrich Christoph Koch only uses the term “half-cadence” when a complete movement of a multi-movement work ends half-conclusively. On the other hand, he describes all other half-clauses as a "fifth paragraph". Here, "paragraph" denotes both a final phrase and the section that ends with this phrase. In his Musical Lexicon, Koch extends the use of the term "semicadence" to cases in which semicirculations end sections that contain one or more subordinate cadences. This shows a tendency to differentiate conclusions according to their formal level (cf. with a text: The final sentence of a dialogue, a chapter, an entire book). Such a distinction is pushed into the background by a general definition of “close on the dominant”.

Plagal half-close

The (rare) case of a series of stages I – IV, which in a musical context works as a half-circuit, was described by Otto Tiersch in 1874 as a "plagal half-circuit". Moritz Hauptmann had previously mentioned the possibility of such a conclusion. An example of this can be found in the song Auld Lang Syne T. 4.

Older descriptions

In the second half of the 17th and first half of the 18th centuries, certain types of semiclosures are described as situations in which the music comes to a standstill on the penultimate sound ( panultima ) of a cadenza. In this sense Wolfgang Caspar Printz speaks of “ clausulae dissectae ” in 1676 , as if the ultimate in the clauses had been “cut away”.

Historical sources


  • Poundie Burstein: The Half Cadence and Related Analytic Fictions . In: What Is a Cadence? Theoretical and Analytical Perspectives on Cadences in the Classical Repertoire , ed. by Markus Neuwirth and Pieter Bergé, Leuven University Press, Leuven 2015, ISBN 9789462700154 , pp. 85–116.
  • Thomas Daniel: The chorale setting in Bach and his contemporaries. A historical theory of syntax . Dohr, Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-925366-71-7 .
  • Daniel Harrison: Harmonic Function in Chromatic Music: A Renewed Dualist Theory and an Account of Its Precedents . University of Chicago Press 1994, ISBN 9780226318097 .
  • Clemens Kühn : teaching music theory - conveying music. Bärenreiter, Kassel 2006, ISBN 3-7618-1835-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. Kirnberger 1771.
  2. Bach 1753, p. 65; Agricola 1757, p. 109.
  3. Reicha 1814 p. 11.
  4. Burstein, pp. 96-105.
  5. ZB Kühn 2006, p. 89.
  6. Koch 1793, pp. 415, 443.
  7. Koch 1802, Col. 18f.
  8. See Burstein 2015, pp. 94–95.
  9. Tiersch 1874, p. 37.
  10. Hauptmann 1853, p. 209; see also Harrison 1994, p. 29.
  11. ZB Matthaei 1652, p. 2; Walther 1732; see Burstein 2015, pp. 90–95.
  12. Printz 1676, chap. 8th; see Daniel 2000, pp. 188-191.