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
atonalismplay \-nə-ˌli-zəm\ noun
atonalistplay \-list\ noun
atonalityplay \ˌā-tō-ˈna-lə-tē, ˌa-\ noun
atonallyplay \(ˌ)ā-ˈtō-nə-lē, (ˌ)a-\ adverb
Recent Examples of atonal from the Web
Perhaps there were some in the audience secretly relieved to be spared the atonal arc of Pierrot's outrageous fortunes, but there was nevertheless plenty of modernism (and post-modernism) on display to challenge even the most open-minded listener.
The episode lurched between the show’s typical style and scenes enhanced by atonal, suspenseful sounds and a shaky-cam effect.
The atonal ethos of that film and the short video works Lynch has made since are present now in Twin Peaks.
Sabala’s technical ability to navigate Bielawa’s dense, atonal score is matched by her skill in communicating intimate emotion on-screen.
Shilonosova enjoys smudging lines, playing around in the various spaces in which noise becomes music, marrying traditional instruments, ambient sounds, atonal composition, and electronic grooves.
Berg folds remnants of tonality, plush colorings, sweeping lyrical lines and sheer orchestral din into his atonal language.
The trombones were botching goofball quotations like ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ and then signaling surrender with sheepish atonal elephant noises.
Not unexpectedly, the horror films had a lot of harsh and atonal screams.
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.
Origin and Etymology of atonal
2a- + tonal
First Known Use: 1911See Words from the same year
ATONAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of atonal for English Language Learners
music : not written, played, or sung in a particular key
Seen and Heard
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