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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.

Origin of tonality

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

Examples from the Web for tonality

Historical Examples of tonality

British Dictionary definitions for 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
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

1824; see tonal + -ity.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper