Definition of tonality in English:


Pronunciation /tōˈnalədē/ /toʊˈnælədi/

Translate tonality into Spanish


  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A final chapter deals with Bach's use of tonality and modulation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the work's outer sections, Nielsen uses dark, misty scoring and uncertain tonality to indicate the castle's incorporeal presence.’
    • ‘He also writes music - exploring the farthest reaches of tonality and texture - for the two tenor saxes, bass and drums of his own band.’
    • ‘His pieces are too monotonous in rhythm and weak in melody to be really interesting, and his experiments in tonality are indecisive.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Dissonance emerges through highly structured chord strata and haunting tonalities and atonalities working with and then against one another.’
    • ‘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.’
    tone, pitch, timbre, tonality, tone colour, modulation
    1. 1.1The harmonic effect of being in a particular key.
      ‘the first bar would seem set to create a tonality of C major’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2The color scheme or range of tones used in a picture.

    ‘the five canvases are predominantly blue in tonality’
    • ‘she incorporates brilliant colors with enormously varied tonalities’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘From a distance, the composition's subtle range of tonalities evokes a Morandi still life.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The foggy tonality of the painting shifts the association to older and more chaste modern textile designs.’
    • ‘Look at its Corot-esque, grey tonality and its fleeting brushwork.’
    • ‘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 image has a washed-out, filtered tonality offset by Hong's striking - if not disturbing - hand-painted washes of blood-red ink.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘'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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Moreover, the pictures employ a lush tonality and fussy delight in detail, not the austere formal economy associated with modernist photographic aesthetics.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘With its range of tonalities and mobilities, Niedecker's work explodes the standard cliches of minimalism as quiet or modest.’
    timbre, sound, sound quality, voice, voice quality, colour, tone colour, tonality, resonance, ring