Definition of tonality in English:

tonality

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.

    • ‘A final chapter deals with Bach's use of tonality and modulation.’
    • ‘Wagner, Mahler and Sibelius all used tonality and key centres to powerful ends, and the blaze of A major must have meant a great deal to Messiaen.’
    • ‘It is ambient and it is thought-provoking on even the most rudimentary level, with expression seldom falling into obviousness - either in terms of lyrics, melody or tonality.’
    • ‘He also writes music - exploring the farthest reaches of tonality and texture - for the two tenor saxes, bass and drums of his own band.’
    • ‘Although he was composing at the same time as Bartok, Debussy, Ravel and Iyes, he remained true to the romantic tradition and expanded it in his use of long melodic lines, complex tonalities and more pianistic and color effects.’
    • ‘Then there's Bartok's stretched tonality, the expressive dissonances that result only partly from his use of scales and modes from eastern European folk music, the downright virtuosity of the writing, especially for piano.’
    • ‘His pieces are too monotonous in rhythm and weak in melody to be really interesting, and his experiments in tonality are indecisive.’
    • ‘In the work's outer sections, Nielsen uses dark, misty scoring and uncertain tonality to indicate the castle's incorporeal presence.’
    • ‘The men echoed the women, making for a complex dovetailed sound with shifting tonality and a surprise ending - the final high shimmering chord constructed from string harmonics leaves some mysticism in the air.’
    • ‘It is a panoramic vision of electronica, centered on the skittery rhythms of drum and bass, artfully blending jazzy tonalities, lush melodic washes, and deep space environments.’
    • ‘There are many ways to create and release tension in music, and tonality is one way to do that, according to specific principles, with harmony.’
    • ‘A similar sensitivity to tonality permeates his music today.’
    • ‘After all, you have tonality in modal music; you have tonality in folk music that has nothing to do with the triadic system.’
    • ‘Dissonance emerges through highly structured chord strata and haunting tonalities and atonalities working with and then against one another.’
    • ‘In music, melody and tonality became old-fashioned, and the twelve tone row and atonality reigned supreme in ‘serious’ composition.’
    tone, pitch, timbre, tonality, tone colour, modulation
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    1. 1.1The harmonic effect of being in a particular key.
      ‘the first bar would seem set to create a tonality of C major’
      • ‘While some tonalities require the use of black keys, no key signatures are employed.’
      • ‘It is not fortuitous that the key is D minor, a tonality traditionally associated with quest, especially by the Viennese classics, and perhaps by the High Baroque masters as well.’
      • ‘The Adagio section has some lush, fluorescent sounds, in which Schoenberg flirts with major tonalities and then destroys them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Performing short songs and chants for children in a wide variety of tonalities and meters, as well as exposing them to a variety of live and recorded music, enables children to begin the process of learning the syntax of music.’
    2. 1.2The use of conventional keys and harmony as the basis of musical composition.
      • ‘The fleet finale, lasting less than two minutes, is a wonder, with harmony and tonality largely in shreds.’
      • ‘Conventional tonality, classical rhythmic structures and developmental discourse were all replaced in favor of much different techniques.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Bartok was a radical, even in the early piano music he was experimenting with conventional harmonies and tonality.’
  • 2The color scheme or range of tones used in a picture.

    • ‘Characteristically the paintings are grey in tonality, which together with their dusty-looking surfaces and the skeletal proportions of the figures often conveys a ghostly feeling.’
    • ‘The musculature and tonality of the men in the lower right-hand corner are reminiscent of the bearded figure in Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne.’
    • ‘From a distance, the composition's subtle range of tonalities evokes a Morandi still life.’
    • ‘Its semi-finished state and near monochrome, cold blue tonality indicate that it is a surviving design for the relief.’
    • ‘The larger canvases in the series ‘The Sky is Crying’ are predominantly dark in tonality.’
    • ‘Rubens's northern inheritance, which included painting on panels rather than canvas, brought into play a cooler range of colours, including bluer fleshtones and, generally, a softer overall tonality.’
    • ‘Butcher is famed for recreating, in vivid tonality and detail, the threatened Florida Everglades wilderness swamps, with their dense foliage and moss-draped cypress trees.’
    • ‘The foggy tonality of the painting shifts the association to older and more chaste modern textile designs.’
    • ‘His finished paintings are in part recapitulations of Claude's work, paying experimental homage to the glories of sunlight and water with new tonalities of colour made available by modern chemistry - notably yellows.’
    • ‘Some critics even suggested that the pervasive blue-violet tonality typical of impressionism was symptomatic of some kind of visual disorder suffered by the artists.’
    • ‘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 lighting too is questionable, reduced in some rooms to levels which, while they might suit the tonality of Picasso, can kill the often subtle colours of Matisse.’
    • ‘The image has a washed-out, filtered tonality offset by Hong's striking - if not disturbing - hand-painted washes of blood-red ink.’
    • ‘Look at its Corot-esque, grey tonality and its fleeting brushwork.’
    • ‘With its range of tonalities and mobilities, Niedecker's work explodes the standard cliches of minimalism as quiet or modest.’
    • ‘Aspects of his style are indebted to Manet and Sickert, the former in the alla prima succulence of paint application, the latter in muted, at times almost murky, close tonality in the depiction of crowds.’
    • ‘Moreover, the pictures employ a lush tonality and fussy delight in detail, not the austere formal economy associated with modernist photographic aesthetics.’
    • ‘'Giverny' is one of only two known paintings from this period - a small-scale but richly varied landscape within the context of its wintry tonality.’
    • ‘This very ordinary subject is transformed by its subtlety of tonality; for Levitan had become a master of rendering the gradations of light as the sky darkens at dusk and moonlight establishes itself.’
    • ‘In the ‘Rubaiyat’, the lightness of the flowers is emphasised by the dark green shade of the leaves, while their colouring relates to the rather dark tonality employed in the miniatures.’
    timbre, sound, sound quality, voice, voice quality, colour, tone colour, tonality, resonance, ring
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Pronunciation:

tonality

/tōˈnalədē/