Definition of polytonality in English:


Pronunciation /ˌpälētōˈnalədē/ /ˌpɑlitoʊˈnælədi/


  • The simultaneous use of two or more keys in a musical composition.

    ‘This study has confirmed that indeed, he did develop numerous innovative techniques before his European counterparts, including polytonality, tone-clusters, atonality and polyrhythms, and many others.’
    • ‘Satie was in advance of his time with his love of bitonality, polytonality and non-triadic harmony to name but a few of his gravity-breaking techniques.’
    • ‘Durey's use of bi- and polytonality is less strident and upfront than Milhaud's, and he mixes it with a plangent lyricism which, despite Durey's avowed intention to forget Ravel, is surely influenced by the latter's quartet of 1903.’
    • ‘The idiom is essentially tonal though dissonance, bitonality, and, occasionally, polytonality are liberally used.’
    • ‘Here, Enescu seems to be pushing Debussy's and Ravel's piano music into hyperspace, and not just with titles such as ‘Carillon nocturne,’ an eyebrow-raising yet gorgeous exercise in polytonality.’