Robert Estrin - piano expert

What is a Plagal Cadence?

Learn about this important chord combination

In this video, Robert explains the Plagal Cadence and how you can recognize it.

Released on July 19, 2017

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, this is Robert Estrin at and The subject today is, what is a plagal cadence. Have you ever heard that term before? The plagal cadence. The plagal cadence, simply put, is a 4 chord to a 1 chord at the end of a piece. Spoiler alert, I gave it all away. Well, why is that so significant? Well usually the end of a piece is a 5 chord to a 1 chord, or a 5, 7 chord, demonstrate in a classic authentic cadence. So the last two chords: 5, 7, 1. Now the plagal cadence is going to end with a 4 to a 1, so, I'm going to play the same cadence, then I'm going to add the plagal cadence at the very end, and you'll know it's familiar as soon as you hear it, and then I'll explain where you've heard it a million times before. You guessed it, amen, isn't it? The "amen" is a plagal cadence. So it can add a different element to the end of a piece of music, a certain stateliness that you don't get with a 5, 7 to 1 cadence. So that is simply put, what a plagal cadence is, hope you've enjoyed that. Once again, Robert Estrin here at and
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

James Lovette-Black * VSM MEMBER * on August 31, 2022 @9:23 am PST
Thank you, Robert. This was interesting and helpful.
Leslie Beach * VSM MEMBER * on August 31, 2022 @5:05 am PST
Fun! Thanks. All these years, I didn’t know what plagal cadence was!
Joan Munk on April 24, 2019 @11:35 am PST
I really enjoy these little tid-bits! On the transcription, it would be easier to read if you refered to the chords with roman numerals. I or IV or V7! :-) Thanks!
Robin on August 31, 2022 @8:32 am PST
agree! A-men! IV-I
Li-Chun Tseng * VSM MEMBER * on April 24, 2019 @6:06 am PST
This is very useful. Thank you for sharing.
Robert - host, on April 26, 2019 @2:33 pm PST
Glad this helps!
Ramona Walter * VSM MEMBER * on November 8, 2017 @12:37 pm PST
Thank you so much for sharing.
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