to·​nal·​i·​ty | \ tō-ˈna-lə-tē How to pronounce tonality (audio) \
plural tonalities

Definition of tonality

1 : tonal quality
b : the organization of all the tones and harmonies of a piece of music in relation to a tonic
3 : the arrangement or interrelation of the tones of a work of visual art

Examples of tonality in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Scores often use strings and brass instrumentation, and MIDI 2.0’s higher resolution should better capture the textures, tonality, and range of those instruments, according to Duncan. Dan Kopf, Quartz, "An update to a 37-year-old digital protocol could profoundly change the way music sounds," 30 Jan. 2020 The underlying harmony is tonal, but a tonality strongly colored by dissonances. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego Symphony and Rafael Payare make magic with Mozart, Mendelssohn and Shakespeare," 13 Oct. 2019 Increasingly, those videos are then pored over by algorithms analyzing details such as words and grammar, facial expressions and the tonality of the job applicant's voice, trying to determine what kinds of attributes a person may have. Rachel Metz, CNN, "There's a new obstacle to landing a job after college: Getting approved by AI," 15 Jan. 2020 And a piece by composer Chen Yi brought traditional Chinese harmonies and tonalities to the mix. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Review: SPCO cellists shine on a concert full of grand finales," 6 Dec. 2019 With vocals reminiscent of Alanis Morissette and King Krule but at the same time all her own, Yanya’s impassioned tonality proved to be the true marker of her distinct sound. Ellise Shafer, Billboard, "Belle & Sebastian, Charli XCX, The 1975 & More Shine at Pitchfork Music Festival Paris 2019," 3 Nov. 2019 The tonality is much paler—no business tones, no dark blues, no industry colors. Leena Kim, Town & Country, "Succession's Costume Designer Explains How to Look Really, Really Rich," 14 Oct. 2019 The organization of melodies around a hierarchical chord structure—tonality—appears as a common attribute across all cultures included in the database. Jim Daley, Scientific American, "What Makes a Song? It’s the Same Recipe in Every Culture," 21 Nov. 2019 The lamps have now disappeared, giving a darker tonality to the painting. Scott Reyburn, New York Times, "Has Banksy Monkeyed Around With His Parliament of Chimps?," 19 Sep. 2019

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

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First Known Use of tonality

1838, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tonality

probably borrowed from French tonalité, from tonal tonal + -ité -ity

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Time Traveler for tonality

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The first known use of tonality was in 1838

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Cite this Entry

“Tonality.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tonality

Nglish: Translation of tonality for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about tonality

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