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Lesson 144: Composition - Melodic Development: Antecedent and Consequent Phrases

Antecedent and Consequent Phrases

Most melodies also consist of alternating antecedent and consequent phrases. The antecedent and consequent phrases are usually the same length, most often four measures long.

 	 Antecedent Phrase ( 4 measures)	 |
 	 Consequent Phrase ( 4 measures)	 |

The antecedent ends in a weaker and the consequent in a stronger cadence. The antecedent promises a continuation and the consequent provides a conclusion. Together the antecedent and consequent phrases form a period, most often eight bars.

Antecedent and consequent are concepts from relevance logic. If we call the antecedent statement X and the consequent statement Y we get a logical pair of statements - "if X, then Y".

The length of the antecedent and consequent phrases can also be eight bars. The most important is that they are of the same length, otherwise there will be an uncomfortable imbalance in the melody. Note that this is not the same as call and response. The antecedent and consequent phrases concept is on a larger scale.

Example: When the Saints Go Marchin' in

Let us take a look at how this concept applies to When the Saints Go Marchin' in:

Here the antecedent and consequent phrases are eight measures long. The first 8 bars are the antecedent, which ends with a half cadende - on the dominant V. The second 8 bars then provides a logical continuation, the consequent, which ends with an authentic ( or perfect) cadence - on the tonic I.

2015 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.