[ twelv-tohn ]

  1. based on or incorporating the twelve-tone technique: twelve-tone music.

  2. using or advocating the twelve-tone technique: a twelve-tone composer.

Origin of twelve-tone

First recorded in 1935–40

Words Nearby twelve-tone Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

British Dictionary definitions for twelve-tone


  1. of, relating to, or denoting the type of serial music invented and developed by Arnold Schoenberg, which uses as musical material a tone row formed by the 12 semitones of the chromatic scale, together with its inverted and retrograde versions. The technique has been applied in various ways by different composers and usually results in music in which there are few, if any, tonal centres: See serialism

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