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Coda (Italian for "tail"; from the Latin cauda, see below), in music, is a passage which brings a movement or a separate piece to a conclusion through prolongation. This developed from the simple chords of a cadence into an elaborate and independent form. In a series of variations on a theme or in a composition with a fixed order of subjects, the coda is a passage sufficiently contrasted with the conclusions of the separate variations or subjects, added to form a complete conclusion to the whole. Beethoven raised the coda to a feature of the highest importance. What is known in rock and popular music as an outro and in jazz and worship music as a tag can be considered a coda. See also fade out.
In music notation, the coda symbol is used as a navigation marker, similarly to the dal Segno sign. It looks like a targeting reticle. It is encountered mainly in transcriptions of popular music, and is used where the exit from a repeated section is within that section rather than at the end. The instruction "To Coda" indicated that the performer is to jump to the separate section headed with the symbol.
Charles Burkhart (2005, p.12) suggests that the reason codas are common, even necessary, is that in the climax of the main body of a piece a "particularly effortful passage", often an expanded phrase, is often created by the "working [of] an idea through to its structural conclusions" and that after all this momentum is created a coda is required to "look back" on the main body, allow listeners to "take it all in", and "create a sense of balance."
Cauda, the Latin root of coda, is used in the study of conductus of the 12th and 13th century. The cauda refers to a long melisma on one of the last syllables of the text, repeated in each strophe. Conducti were traditionally divided into two groups, conductus cum caudae and conductus sin caudae (Latin: conductus with caude, conductus without caude), based on the presence of the melisma. The cauda thus provided a conclusionary role, similar to the modern coda.
Codetta (Italian for "little tail," the diminutive form) has a similar purpose to the coda, but on a smaller scale, concluding a section of a work instead of the work as a whole. Typically, a codetta concludes the exposition and recapitulation sections of a work in sonata form, following the second (modulated) theme, or the closing theme (if there is one). Thus, in the exposition, it usually appears in the secondary key, but in the recapitulation, in the primary key. The codetta ordinary closes with a perfect cadence in the appropriate key, confirming the tonality. If the exposition is repeated, the codetta is also, but sometimes it has its ending slightly changed, depending on whether it leads back to the exposition or into the development sections.
The following are examples of a coda embellishing the end of the song.
- "Free as a Bird" by the Beatles from the "Album Anthology 1"
- "Glycerine" by Bush from the Album "Sixteen Stone"
- "Lounge" by Modest Mouse from the album This is a Long Drive for someone with nothing to think about
- "I Came as a Rat" by Modest Mouse from the album The Moon & Antarctica
- "Layla" by Eric Clapton
- "Love Is Only A Feeling" by The Darkness from the album Permission To Land.
- Burkhart, Charles. "The Phrase Rhythm of Chopin's A-flat Major Mazurka, Op. 59, No. 2" in Stein, Deborah (2005). Engaging Music: Essays in Music Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517010-5.
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopędia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
Categories: Wikipedia articles incorporating text from the 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica | Formal sections | Musical notation