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In classical music, a cadence is a melodic and harmonic formula that punctuates a piece, or a musical phrase. It is also an improvised part in an opera or a concerto.

In jazz, a cadence takes the meaning of sequence of chords giving a frame and a accompaniment to a piece of music.

In tonal harmony, a cadenza is a harmonic progression from one chord to another, intended to mark the end of a piece or, more generally, of a musical phrase, by its conclusive or suspensive character:

In this precise sense, the cadences are comparable to the various punctuation marks of the literature. We can also say that cadences are the breath of musical discourse.

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