leading tone


: the seventh tone of a major or minor scale

called also leading note

Examples of leading tone in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Steel guitarist Justin Schipper slid a bundle of leading tones into the mix during overdubs that knit the production together. Tom Roland, Billboard, 7 Feb. 2024 And then leading them with all those leading tones force the singer to sing. Jordan A. Rothacker, SPIN, 20 Dec. 2023 There’s no leading tone of B. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 19 Dec. 2021 Without getting too technical, the mixolydian is a type of major scale in which the leading tone—used relentlessly in pop music to build tension and yearning—is replaced by a flat seven. Andrew R. Chow, Time, 23 Aug. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'leading tone.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1889, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of leading tone was circa 1889

Dictionary Entries Near leading tone

Cite this Entry

“Leading tone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leading%20tone. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

leading tone

: the seventh musical degree of a major or minor scale

called also subtonic

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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