What to do after V-I cadence?

Here's my problem (i hope i can explain this well enough with my lack of knowledge), whenever i end up on cadence mentioned in the title (V-I), for example on the 16th bar i can't figure out what to do next, for me the piece is over and everything i try to write on bar 17 sound unnaturally (whenever if it's something new or it's a theme copied from the beginning of the piece).

I tried to analyse a couple pieces and the only thing that i found is that they (composers) tend to "start" on IV after V-I cadence, which make sense since I is 5th of IV, but again when i try to do this it sound awful. 

I decided to ask you about my problem after i watched this video https://youtu.be/1Pf7Q2Vs07I?t=28s which can serve as example- after first 8 bars when he end up on V-I music starts again on I and it sound naturally, i can't find here anything special rather than short pause at the end of bar 8 (is this it, a simple pause?).

I hope I didn't made too much mistakes and you know what i'm talking about. 

So my question is- do you know any techniques or do you have any tips to help me with this "issue"?


I forgot to say Hello since this is my first post on this forum ;) Sorry!


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  • The answer is you start your B section. After a 16 measure theme that ends on I, the bass notes then go down to a vi chord on the next measure. Take a look at at one of my pieces. At measure 29 it ends in I, then the bass leads it to a vi chord in the next measure 30. https://app.box.com/s/bzmekqq1fdrye8pw8kte
  • Hi Rafal,

    take a look at the title of your lesson: 

    How to Compose Music - Lesson 7 - Small Ternary Form


    A ternary form is a A-B-A thingy, where melodic themes and Harmony are of structural importance.

    That to me pre-supposes that you have already studied at least a little some Binary Form which is a A-B thingy (supposedly simpler) but still it requires that you are already familiar with theme construction, basic chord progression including foreign tones and techniques of passing or permanent modulation.

    If you have not understood clearly those concepts you are bound to loose a lot of points made in the lesson which I found clear and the lesson itself well chosen for demonstrating them.

    My own advise (when I was teaching) was that a student should never bother with harmony at all before at least he mustered some diatonic modes and scales and the theory involved, so that he can begin with melody (involving also vigorous aural training).

    Here I observe that you complain about the fact that after you conclude with V-I you consider the piece finished and any continuation seems boring. You should not complain as probably the piece you have in mind has indeed finished so there is nothing wrong about that.

    I don’t know your piece (you could provide a pdf if we are to discuss it) but do compare it to Beethoven's piece which as you say it continues much further after the V-I (at bar 8) and this continuation seems quite natural and successful.

    Why? Because Beethoven has made it to happen so.

    He has prepared your ears and your soul before bar 8 (by using technique of temporary modulation) that the piece at bar eight although successfully concluded harmonically it is not concluded yet thematically/structurally and this is due to the (almost magical) structural power of harmony.

    So, Beethoven's piece starts in C and after 8 bars has a perfect I6/4-V7-I cadence in C and it is so marked in the analytical notes in the score and by the addition of the words "New  contrasting idea".

    Certainly up to here no permanent modulation to a different tonal centre has taken place (although your ears have been prepared for it by the chromaticism of bar 7), but take a look at the next bar, marked as bar 10, although it should be bar 9 imo. What happens here? A simple harmonic device utilized by the composer, a Dominant pedal on G, which, although no modulation has taken place in G, makes the passage interesting and inevitable (I would say). Something is happening on G! And this something is allowed to happen for a further 5 measures till it concludes in the imperfect cadence to G7 in bar 14 (13 according to my count). Other interesting passing modulations and interpolations of thematic fragments are present in this second (B) section which together with the dominant pedal keep the interest of the listener going.

    After this second section is repeated and thus doubled in length (like the first), the first section is allowed to return and it seems a natural and welcome return of the opening (A) for a further four bars, Beethoven obviously considering that any further prolonging of the piece is unnecessary.

    We could talk about all these points into more precise details, but I think it is enough to grasp some general ideas:

    1. Repetitions in A-B-A small ternary structures are beneficial both to the prolongation of the piece and to the listener by giving him two chances to familiarize him/her self with the material.
    2. Harmonic devices such as tonic or dominant pedals (or any other pedals) should belong from very early to a composer's artillery.
    3. Modulations should occur (they were first invented as a compositional technique  specifically to answer this problem of prolonging essentially short thematic ideas that were the order of the day in the Renaissance and continue to be in many instances in our days) and if modulations are to be used then they should sound natural and introduced gradually. In this sense we could claim (although used by many composers and to very good dramatic effect) that abrupt modulation is a bit cheating and it should not be used before the technique of gradual modulation has been mastered.


    I hope all this is not confusing. My general advise is don’t study something which you have not prepare yourself for. Only something that you are sure you have covered in your preparation both intellectually and aurally.



  • Sorry I made a rush verbal mistake, the sentence should read:

    Before this second section is repeated and thus doubled in length etc, etc.


    Socrates Arvanitakis said:

    After this second section is repeated and thus doubled in length etc, etc,

    What to do after V-I cadence?
    Here's my problem (i hope i can explain this well enough with my lack of knowledge), whenever i end up on cadence mentioned in the title (V-I), for e…
  • I absolutely agree, Fred. Before study of "Harmony proper" starts people should be familiar technically and aurally (never forget this last one) with the following:

    1. Perfect cadence: V-I

    2. Plagal (church) cadence : IV-I

    3. Imperfect cadence: any chord to V

    4. Deceptive cadence : V-VI

    C' est la vie

    C' est l' amour

    C 'est la guerre

    C' est l' harmonie dans la fin de tout cela!

  • 8608359485?profile=originaland all that without loosing touch of the Beethoven Bagatelle and still harmonizing in C!


  • Of course, people will differ on what should be done.


    I think it's not without merit to consider separating out the bass and treble lines, and (using a composition program), to do one or all of the following:


    1)  placing one line 50 or 25 cents above the other;


    2)  using an alternate tuning, such as a Siamese, Tibetan or Arabic tuning;


    3) putting some pitch glides into one of the piano inputs;


    4) avoiding all repetition of thematic material, by altering, even if only slightly, the content;


    5)  thickening the texture, with the addition of several lines, creating at various points, three-point, four point, five point, and even seven part harmony ...


    6)  Using the sound of birds (you can record them as they sing outside your own house), as a template for a series of themes, or short motives, to follow the main body of the first part of the work.  


    7) Superimposing a poem composed of non-sense words upon the fabric of the piece.   This can be recorded, or reproduced from text to speech software, easily found online.


    8) Use a technique of klangenfarben melodie (changing the instrument playing the note, from measure to measure, or even note to note), from various woodwind, percussion, brass and string instruments.


    9)  Add some electronic instruments, synthesized sounds, but just sparingly.


    10)  Vary the rhythms and tempos radically, from measure to measure. 


    11)  Allow just a few of the measures, or small parts of some of the measures to be altered by a judicious use of random fluctuations, via the many means available in the standard composer software.


    12)  Pile up some of the thematic material, on top of itself, using Boulez's technique of heterophony; and experiment, to see what sounds best, relying on that method.


    13)  Insert tiny bits of symphonic material, from an early Haydn symphony, or a Quartet by Boccherini.  Do this in a separate audio track.  Adjust and transpose to an unrelated key or alter and modulate the track, to generate polytonalities and poly sonorities.


    14)  Switch back and forth, at appropriate points, to modalities found in Cantonese opera and in North Indian (Hindustani) classical sitar works.   


    15) Introduce one passage, where each measure is written in a style or tonality characteristic of some of the major composers, in order, from the Renaissance, to Baroque, to Classical, to Early Romantic,  post Romantic, to early modern, mid-twentieth century (a la Bartok) to the contemporary era.  This should be done very rapidly, as I suggest, measure by measure, though some overlap and polytonal juxtaposition could be allowed.


    These are a few things one might consider doing.


    I think "the big surprise of V-VI" is a good idea, as well.

    You might add a few very long bass glissandi, in the register of the double bass, (a la Ligeti) that start at the very beginning of the piece, and terminate just before your coda  is initiated.  


  • Hi Rafal,

    Can you post what you have written so far?

    Chances are that the material you have already written in the 16 bars - has plenty of stuff in it for further development.. (Yes, it may also imply choosing a chord… many can work… but it is all about the Context that you have already started, and in how it relates to that.

  • Thanks you all for advice, i'm gonna try to apply them later. Gregorio you asked about the piece that i'm writing, so here it is https://soundcloud.com/rafa-ebrowski/dmajor  not finished, last bars are still in "sketchy form" but as you can hear, it end up on V-I (bar 20). No sheet music sorry, working in DAW.  

  • You get off to a great start here.  It seems that the melodic line 'turns back home' just as it is starting to bloom out of itself.. Instead of first concerning about the 'next chord'  - whether it be a IV or Vi, or a iV, or whatever the myriad of possibilities, have you tried improvising just the melody,  or singing, (at least the shape) of how you would hear it continuing?..

    (it is true, that the chord you pick will provide a certain emotional context, but if you are uncertain, i would see about extending the melody first… and the chords will follow...

  • Before i read your comment Fredrick i menaged to do something diffrent- result: https://soundcloud.com/rafa-ebrowski/v-i-i 

    actually the title should be V-I-V-I... Nevertheless I would like to do modulation after those 8 bars of melody that i ended on (which are copied from bars 4-12), but the question is, where the 1st chord of new key (tonic) should appear? On bar 3 and 5 would be ok? 

    For example: 

    bar (chord)

    1(whichever- old key)- 2(? going to another key)- 3(new key-tonic)- 4 (V of new key)- 5 (new key tonic) and so on 

    Is this correct? 

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