Definition of tone row in US English:

tone row


  • A particular sequence of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale used as a basis for twelve-tone (serial) music.

    • ‘The composer says that each note of her twelve tone row represents a month.’
    • ‘The Sonatina is in nine short sections, alternately eerie, fantastical, bleary, somnambulant, focussing sharply or softly as the case may be upon the tone row they all derive from.’
    • ‘Its long first movement derives its thematic material from a seven-note chord in the Beethoven 9th Symphony's finale and one formed by Ginastera from the remaining five notes that complete the tone row.’
    • ‘The effect is heightened by the wide leaps in the violin part; starting on a high C, the music leaps down nearly two octaves to a low D, then to an E flat in between, and so on, till all twelve notes of a tone row have been used.’
    • ‘Billed at the time as the longest composition based on a single tone row, though not strictly, this symphony held my rapt attention throughout and ended in what seemed like a satisfying tonal resolution.’