The IV To I Chord Progression In Music – Known As The Plagal or Amen Cadence
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Here is the transcript of the piano podcast if you want to follow along:
Today we are going to take up the Plagal Cadence -The IV To I Chord Progression In Music – Known As The Plagal or Amen Cadence. Plagal is a big two-dollar word that simply means a chord progression that goes from the four chord to the one chord, in any key. If you’re in the key of B flat, the four chord would be E flat and the one chord would be B flat. A cadence is simply a chord progression that happens at the end of a phrase or the end of a piece. There are lots of chord progressions that aren’t at the end of a phrase or end of a piece, but a cadence is something that kind of wraps up the feeling of a phrase or a song. In other words, it’s a final kind of feeling.
In the Amen Cadence, I think, is one of the two most important cadences, four to one and the other one we’ll take up on another time. The Plagal Cadence is simply the four chord going to the one chord. If you’re in the key of C, what’s the one chord? Well it’s obviously the C chord. What’s the four chord? 1, 2, 3, 4, it’s the F chord, right? It’s the F chord, going to the C chord. [Duane playing piano]. A-men.
It doesn’t have to be in any given inversion. You could have first inversion, that’s an Amen cadence too, its the fourth chord going to the one chord, but the root’s not on the bottom, and it sounds a little different. If you want to really classic amen feel, then go from the four chord to the one chord.
In addition to just using the chord itself, there is some variety you can put in, and one of the varieties is you can put in some color tones. For example, I could put in a nine and a seven . That is F 9th, F7, 9 and then C. F 7th, 9 [Duane playing piano] you often hear. Those are called ‘oh yeah’ endings. You’re playing a song on a key to C and you end it [Duane playing piano]. Oh, yeah. You’ve heard that kind of thing. That’s what it is, it’s a Plagal Cadence with a seventh in it, or a seventh and ninth.
Another thing you can do is slide off the black keys for kind of a bluesy kind of sound. For example, [Duane playing piano] I’m sliding off A flat to A as I play that F chord. As I play the C chord, I slid off G Flat to G. [Duane playing piano] A-men.
Also you can use rhythmic variation obviously. [Duane playing piano]. Or you can go, [Duane playing piano] Remember Paul Simon’s [Duane playing piano] “still crazy after all these years.” That’s a Plagal Cadence. We don’t think of it as the Amen Cadence, but it is. It’s a four chord, I’m in the key of G, and that’s the C chord, going to the G chord. You say, that doesn’t sound like that. No, that’s because I’m playing it inverted. I am playing the four chord but I’m playing it upside down, going to the one chord right side up. You can play these Plagal Cadences in any inversion at all.
If you just toggle back and forth between the one chord and the four chord; listen, I’ll play that on the key of G. Here’s the one chord and there’s the four chord. What if I just go back and fourth. [Duane playing piano]. I’ve got a rhythmic kind of thing going, don’t I? What if I include the seventh every other time? [Duane playing piano]. 1, 4, 1, 7, 4, 1, 4, 1, 7, 4. We do that in C. [Duane playing piano]That’s F, here’s G. [Duane playing piano] We could combine that with 12-bar blues, couldn’t we? We could play C [Duane playing piano] F [Duane playing piano] to C, G. [Duane playing piano] You get the idea. By the way, [Duane playing piano] what I did there is I played the G chord and then I just slid down my slid by half step, which is another subject. That’s called the half-step slide, which we may take up sometime, and then go to the F seventh chord and then back to C.
I would suggest that you should practice these Plagal Cadences in all 12 keys, and I’ve outlined them for you there on the web page.
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More about the plagal cadence at Wikipedia: