Using Cadences to Compose

Using Cadences to Compose

Edward Gattsek

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:



High School


Music Theory


Computer lab, outfitted with notation software (Preferably Sibelius or Finale)


60 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Basic Theoretical Analysis (4 part writing)

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
MENC 5: Reading and notating music.
MENC 6: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.


Head phones for each student
Playback speakers suitable for entire class
Student instruments for live playback (provided by each individual student).


Students will demonstrate the use of the authentic and half cadences and perform their works in their small groups. Students will use technology to notate all compositions.

This lesson illustrates the use of two of the most common progressions in traditional, Western music. The use of technology allows the students to explore a variety of textures and instrumentations. This exploratory period with technology allows each small group to compose without disturbing the other aurally.


Anticipatory Set
Using traditional pen and paper, students will analyze (in SATB, four-part writing) a simple hymn containing the two cadences in question.

After anticipatory set, students will move into their small composition groups. Each student will be required to write a progression in a notation software program and be given the opportunity to hear and analyze it. It may be more or less complicated than the hymn-tune. In the case of the authentic cadence, the progression must include at least, I IV ö V ö I. In the case of the half cadence, it must include, I ö iii ö vi ö IV ö V. They must be orchestrated to match their composition groupâs instrumentation. The proper doublings and voice leadings must be obeyed. In the case of the latter, the rhythm must reflect the pause on the V.


Check for Student Understanding
The teacher will be sure to look in on each student during the individual creative process. The teacher will listen to the studentsâ compositions at various stages throughout the class period and give the student feedback and possibly suggestions on where to go from there.

At the end of class there will be an informal ãconcertä of the resulting works. Particularly creative compositions will be discussed and analyzed.

Follow Up:

From here students could be encouraged to compose their own chord progressions with full rhythmic and melodic development. Student-generated hymn-like compositions might be the lesson immediate following. Composing similar pieces for a different group of instruments may be a great lesson for the future.

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