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

Another is a darkroom’s capacity to produce variation in gradations of texture and tonality. Mark Feeney,, "Photography’s biggest stars are out in MFA’s ‘Viewpoints’ show," 15 Aug. 2019 Layered over all this is an original aria with gospel tonality sung by Liz Gré. New York Times, "Beat the Heat With These 10 Must-See Art Shows," 19 July 2019 That openness is evident in her using multiple processes over the years, from Polaroid to Photoshop, and a willingness to print her images unconventionally, as with split-toning, which alters the tonalities of an image. Mark Feeney,, "At the Peabody Essex, marvelousness made visible," 18 July 2019 The tonality is gray, or grisaille, because this is the underpainting, in the old-master technique, that Elizabeth learned at art school. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, "Painter Elizabeth Colomba Is Giving Art’s Hidden Figures Their Close-Up," 10 Oct. 2018 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

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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Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for tonality

The first known use of tonality was in 1838

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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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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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