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

  • n. Music A system or an arrangement of seven tones built on a tonic key.
  • n. Music The arrangement of all the tones and chords of a composition in relation to a tonic.
  • n. The scheme or interrelation of the tones in a painting.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The system of seven tones built on a tonic key; the 24 major and minor scales.
  • n. A sound of specific pitch and quality; timbre.
  • n. The quality of all the tones in a composition heard in relation to the tonic.
  • n. The interrelation of the tones in a painting.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The principle of key in music; the character which a composition has by virtue of the key in which it is written, or through the family relationship of all its tones and chords to the keynote, or tonic, of the whole.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music:
  • n. The character or quality of tone.
  • n. Same as key, 7 .
  • n. In painting, the scheme of color of a picture; system of tones.

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

  • n. any of 24 major or minor diatonic scales that provide the tonal framework for a piece of music


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • All forms that we have ever known ... have always been conceived in tonality, that is, in the sense of a tonal magnetic center, with subsidiary tonal relationships.

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  • My fingers seem to naturally fit into that five flat pattern, and the tonality is especially pleasing to me, rich and full, with just a hint of melancholy.

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  • EMM has something similar, called tonality detection.

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  • “I think that your tonality was a little flat,” someone said.

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  • In most A/V publications, they will tell you to stick with one brand and line of speakers so that the tonality will be the same across the entire soundstage. product reviews

  • Here's how it starts: Atonality in a general sense describes music that departs from the system of tonal hierarchies that characterized the sound of classical European music from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries (please see the longer article "tonality" for further explanation).

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  • Perhaps the problem here is the attitude to "tonality" being viewed as one part of a simple binary with something like atonality as the opposition when in reality there are many different types of classical music being written today.

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  • I was taken by the poem, by the intentional tentativeness and the patterned repetitions of syntax which give it tonality which is not exactly conversational but explorational, and by its meditative-ness.


  • His "tonality," by McLean's measure, had collapsed in early August after the ad campaign by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth challenged his trump card of Vietnam service.


  • His "tonality" measure for Kerry began to move up sharply just after Kerry gave a speech Sept. 20, outlining a four-point plan on Iraq.



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