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tonality

[toh-nal-i-tee]
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noun, plural to·nal·i·ties.
  1. Music.
    1. the sum of relations, melodic and harmonic, existing between the tones of a scale or musical system.
    2. a particular scale or system of tones; a key.
  2. (in painting, graphics, etc.) the system of tones or tints, or the color scheme, of a picture.
  3. the quality of tones.
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Origin of tonality

First recorded in 1830–40; tonal + -ity
Related formsto·nal·i·tive, adjectivenon·to·nal·i·ty, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

timbrestressstrengthforcemodulationinflectionaccentemphasisresonanceintonation

Examples from the Web for tonality

Historical Examples

  • Yet it was in one tonality; there was no harmony, no melody.

    Melomaniacs

    James Huneker

  • The tonality of the music of the ancients was wholly artificial and unreal.

  • Regarding the tonality of these scales there is not very much to be said.

  • The episode you quote moves evidently in the tonality of G minor.

    Piano Playing

    Josef Hofmann

  • For by this principle of tonality, melody and harmony as we know them became possible.


British Dictionary definitions for tonality

tonality

noun plural -ties
  1. music
    1. the actual or implied presence of a musical key in a composition
    2. the system of major and minor keys prevalent in Western music since the decline of modesCompare atonality
  2. the overall scheme of colours and tones in a painting
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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 tonality

n.

1824; see tonal + -ity.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper