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[toh-nal-i-tee] /toʊˈnæl ɪ ti/
noun, plural tonalities.
  1. the sum of relations, melodic and harmonic, existing between the tones of a scale or musical system.
  2. a particular scale or system of tones; a key.
(in painting, graphics, etc.) the system of tones or tints, or the color scheme, of a picture.
the quality of tones.
Origin of tonality
1830-40; tonal + -ity
Related forms
tonalitive, adjective
nontonality, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tonality
  • By using lamps that reflect up to the ceiling, the light will reflect the tonality of the ceiling color back into your room.
  • Most people can sing a familiar tune on key, but tonality and delivery will not be as good as a trained singer.
  • Nothing has changed neither in the tonality, nor in the contents.
  • But there's much more than tonality that goes into evoking those moods.
  • Perfection of color tonality is attained immediately.
  • The latch closure can be mixed together at different pitches to create a complex tonality not unlike utterances.
  • He has little to say about cadences, let alone tonality.
British Dictionary definitions for tonality


noun (pl) -ties
  1. the actual or implied presence of a musical key in a composition
  2. the system of major and minor keys prevalent in Western music since the decline of modes Compare atonality
the overall scheme of colours and tones in a painting
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tonality

1824; see tonal + -ity.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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