from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Simultaneous use of two or more tonalities in a musical composition.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The use of multiple keys in the same composition, especially by multiple instruments at the same time

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. music that uses two or more different keys at the same time


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • By the late 1940s, he was already employing modern classical ideas such as polytonality and dissonance, and working in unusual time signatures to create a distinctive jazz sound.

    NPR Topics: News

  • Many of Ives "compositions were ground breaking and anticipated 20th century musical techniques such as polytonality, atonality, 12 tone formations, polymetres, and polyrhythms.

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  • Beyond rhythm, Dave Brubeck challenged the public's ear with polytonality, or playing in multiple keys simultaneously.

    Network Awesome: Brubeck's Signature, Signed with Time

  • It was Dave Brubeck -- a man who could not read sheet music and who was nearly barred from graduating the College of the Pacific music school in 1942 because of it -- who reinvented the genre with his signature style of polyrhythms, odd time signatures, and polytonality.

    Network Awesome: Brubeck's Signature, Signed with Time

  • Ms. Schneider also presented a two-movement piece combining "Thompson Fields" (featuring pianist Frank Kimbrough), an arresting and tranquil depiction of the view from a Minnesota grain silo, which, its in Americana subject matter and polytonality, suggested a modern jazz response to Charles Ives, and "Nimbus," a rather turbulent vignette of cloud formations spotlighting Steve Wilson on alto sax.

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  • It isn't difficult at all to trace a line from either Milhaud's polytonality or "wrong note" basses or Cowell's cluster or late pandiatonic music to those chords of Wilson you describe.

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  • He found his way to polytonality, atonality, polyrhythms, and other devices that, like Leonardo's bicycle and contact lenses and ball bearings, all had to be reinvented by others.

    Archive 2006-04-01

  • They dipped our toes in polytonality and poly-dissonance. - Home Page

  • The first dance, spiked with a dash of polytonality, introduces the princess in her daytime human form along with her three attendants.

    NPR Topics: News

  • Until his death in 1981, he wrote defiantly neo-Romantic music, engaging with new-fangled techniques like atonality and polytonality only occasionally.



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