to·​nal·​i·​ty | \tō-ˈna-lə-tē \
plural tonalities

Definition of tonality 

1 : tonal quality

2a : key sense 5

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

But what was interesting was the tonality had changed really drastically. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Corey Pein, author of ‘Live Work Work Work Die,’ on Recode Decode," 13 June 2018 Martin embraced chromaticism, which weakens music’s sense of a tonal center, but refused to abandon tonality altogether. Barbara Jepson, New York Times, "Interest Grows in a Master of Choral Mystery and Power," 25 May 2018 Others had dreamed up the piano, diatonic tonality, and the 12-bar blues riff. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Generosity of Innovation," 28 June 2018 Schoenberg began as an expressionist composer, extending Wagner and Mahler’s innovations in extreme chromaticism, but later found a way to bypass tonality altogether. Paul Grimstad, The New Republic, "Can You Measure How Good a Song Is?," 21 June 2018 The controversy of Schoenberg’s serialist works—the overwhelming reaction to them as ugly, nightmarish, simply unmusical—shows how firmly tonality had come to condition habits of listening. Paul Grimstad, The New Republic, "Can You Measure How Good a Song Is?," 21 June 2018 There was a span of time, in the mid-to-late 2000s, when phone rings would influence the digital tonality of beats for rappers like Soulja Boy and J-Kwon, whose songs would then become ringtones themselves. Cassie Owens,, "Where have all the musical ringtones gone?," 24 May 2018 Gone is any sense of key or tonality, and the forms are intuitive, unrelated to symphonies, sonatas or dances. Christian Hertzog,, "La Jolla Symphony and Sameer Patel delight with 20th century masterpieces," 7 May 2018 Soon enough, all of the wonderful tonality and rhythm of an opponent's offense is stripped away. Rob Mahoney,, "Victor Oladipo and the Pacers Have Cleveland on the Brink of Disaster," 28 Apr. 2018

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

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The first known use of tonality was in 1838

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playful or foolish behavior

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