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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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CADENCE (through the Fr. from the Lat. cadentia, from cadere, to fall), a falling or sinking, especially as applied to rhythmical or musical sounds, as in the "fall" of the voice in speaking, the rhythm or measure of verses, song or dance. In music, the word is used of the closing chords of a musical phrase, which succeed one another in such a way as to produce, first an expectation or suspense, and then an impression of finality, indicating also the key strongly. "Cadenza," the Italian form of the same word, is used of a free flourish in a vocal or instrumental composition, introduced immediately before the close of a movement or at the end of the piece. The object is to display the performer's technique, or to prevent too abrupt a contrast between two movements. Cadenzas are usually left to the improvisation of the performer, but are sometimes written in full by the composer, or by some famous executant, as in the cadenza in Brahms's Violin Concerto, written by Joseph Joachim.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Cadence'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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