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tonal

Line breaks: tonal
Pronunciation: /ˈtəʊn(ə)l
 
/

Definition of tonal in English:

adjective

1Relating to the tone of music, colour, or writing: his ear for tonal colour the poem’s tonal lapses
More example sentences
  • The gorgeous tonal colors of this music have rarely glistened so brightly!
  • She manages beautifully subtle shifts in tempo without crossing over into the soupy, and she applies a large palette of tonal color tastefully.
  • The Schubert was likewise a weaving of wonderful tonal colors and pianistic power.
1.1Relating to music written using conventional keys and harmony.
Example sentences
  • This makes it difficult for contemporary composers to write interesting new tonal music without evoking a film score of some sort.
  • This process could not go on indefinitely, and in 1908 Schoenberg made the break into atonality, abandoning the attempt to fit atonal harmonies into tonal forms.
  • Add to that the fact that I love Massenet because his music is tonal and well harmonised, and you have some idea of my style.
1.2 Phonetics (Of a language) expressing semantic differences by varying the intonation given to words or syllables of a similar sound.
Example sentences
  • Chinese is a tonal language: words are differentiated not just by sounds but by whether the intonation is rising or falling.
  • The point of a talking drum is to make noises which sound like words spoken in a tonal language - like Yoruba.
  • Also, Chinese is a tonal language, which means that words change meaning depending on whether they're said with a rising tone, falling tone, falling then rising, or flat.

Origin

late 18th century (designating church music in plainsong mode): from medieval Latin tonalis, from Latin tonus (see tone).

Derivatives

tonally

1
adverb
Example sentences
  • This is an aspect that sometimes I miss in Mahler performances and it matters greatly, because Mahler's music is sometimes tonally anchored and sometimes tonally disorientated.
  • The Reeve, the Shipman, and the Merchant's Tales are in a similar vein, although tonally they are all quite different.
  • I've always been frustrated by the ending we saw in the cinema, which strikes me as tonally appropriate, but utterly unconvincing.

Words that rhyme with tonal

atonal, Donal, hormonal, Monel, patronal, polytonal, zonal

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