noun Music.

the absence of key or tonal center.
an atonal principle or style of composition.

Origin of atonality

First recorded in 1920–25; atonal + -ity Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for atonality

Contemporary Examples of atonality

  • The first article, published in March 2000, was on atonality by a scholar at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

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    You Can Look It Up: The Wikipedia Story

    Walter Isaacson

    October 19, 2014

British Dictionary definitions for atonality



absence of or disregard for an established musical key in a composition
the principles of composition embodying this and providing a radical alternative to the diatonic system
Compare tonality
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for atonality

1950; see atonal + -ity.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper