aton·​al | \ (ˌ)ā-ˈtō-nᵊl How to pronounce atonal (audio) , (ˌ)a- \

Definition of atonal

: marked by avoidance of traditional musical tonality especially : organized without reference to key or tonal center and using the tones of the chromatic scale impartially

Other Words from atonal

atonalism \ (ˌ)ā-​ˈtō-​nə-​ˌli-​zəm How to pronounce atonal (audio) , (ˌ)a-​ \ noun
atonalist \ (ˌ)ā-​ˈtō-​nə-​list How to pronounce atonal (audio) , (ˌ)a-​ \ noun
atonality \ ˌā-​tō-​ˈna-​lə-​tē How to pronounce atonal (audio) , ˌa-​ \ noun
atonally \ (ˌ)ā-​ˈtō-​nə-​lē How to pronounce atonal (audio) , (ˌ)a-​ \ adverb

Examples of atonal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But they are also distracted by their growing closeness, which is cradled in the atonal, synthy melancholy of Yiannis Loukos and Antonis Georgou’s score, and beautifully played by both actors as a practically tangible ache. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 9 July 2022 Loosely atonal, the piece is characterized by brooding passages and accented, Stravinskian rhythms. Barbara Jepson, WSJ, 21 June 2022 The trio ripped through their set, which also featured a Cline cameo, and brought an atonal, free-jazz element to their old-school punk pedigree. Jonah Bayer, SPIN, 31 May 2022 Here, the atonal strings and pipes seem to conjure ghosts, with echoes of elemental and intergenerational human violence, and the jarring music is mixed with a murky soundscape to foster a growing sense of dread. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 May 2022 His Second String Quartet, composed in 1922, is a 25-minute work that draws on atonal harmonies, extended techniques and miniature leitmotifs to trace a dramatic trajectory from a wall of sound to a crooked folk dance. New York Times, 13 May 2022 It’s on the verge of Neo romantic, very tuneful and melodic, whereas George Walker’s work is verging on atonal. Julian Sancton, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Apr. 2022 But these faint traces of the familiar are swept away in the same current — subsumed by the atonal crush of the music. Washington Post, 28 Jan. 2022 One afternoon, we were presented with an avant-garde, atonal work featuring, among other things, singers dressed as large, iridescent worms that writhed across the stage. New York Times, 2 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'atonal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of atonal

1911, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for atonal

a- entry 2 + tonal

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Last Updated

16 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Atonal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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