Share this entry

Share this page

tonality

Line breaks: ton¦al|ity
Pronunciation: /tə(ʊ)ˈnalɪti
 
/

Definition of tonality in English:

noun (plural tonalities)

[mass noun]
1The character of a piece of music as determined by the key in which it is played or the relations between the notes of a scale or key: the sonata is noteworthy for its extensive variations of mood and tonality
More example sentences
  • In music, melody and tonality became old-fashioned, and the twelve tone row and atonality reigned supreme in ‘serious’ composition.
  • After all, you have tonality in modal music; you have tonality in folk music that has nothing to do with the triadic system.
  • A similar sensitivity to tonality permeates his music today.
1.1 [count noun] The harmonic effect of being in a particular key: the first bar would seem set to create a tonality of C major
More example sentences
  • The Adagio section has some lush, fluorescent sounds, in which Schoenberg flirts with major tonalities and then destroys them.
  • While some tonalities require the use of black keys, no key signatures are employed.
  • At the very end of the piece, in a very contemporary strategy, the perfect fourth yields to a tritone, C-#, thereby obscuring an unambiguous closure in an enriched tonality of D major.
1.2The use of conventional keys and harmony as the basis of musical composition: these pieces are more dissonant than my earlier works, yet I did not give up tonality
More example sentences
  • Bartok was a radical, even in the early piano music he was experimenting with conventional harmonies and tonality.
  • This 35-minute symphony in one movement could hardly be more serious, and it finds the composer embracing tonality and convention in a manner that would have been unthinkable to him twenty years earlier.
  • This is one of those few works in which Rodrigo chose to set aside conventional tonality; the results are not difficult for the average listener to enjoy, however.
2The colour scheme or range of tones used in a picture: the five canvases are predominantly blue in tonality [count noun]: she incorporates brilliant colours with enormously varied tonalities
More example sentences
  • Its semi-finished state and near monochrome, cold blue tonality indicate that it is a surviving design for the relief.
  • On the other hand, if large amounts of well-preserved authentic paint are obscured, it is usually worthwhile revealing them and regaining the tonality of the original colours.
  • The larger canvases in the series ‘The Sky is Crying’ are predominantly dark in tonality.

Definition of tonality in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day boscage
Pronunciation: ˈbɒskɪdʒ
noun
a mass of trees or shrubs