tonic key

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Noun1.tonic key - the basic key in which a piece of music is writtentonic key - the basic key in which a piece of music is written
tonality, key - any of 24 major or minor diatonic scales that provide the tonal framework for a piece of music
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From the perspective of this metaphor it is obvious that the tonic key is the one harmonic area that cannot be firmly established in the course of the development section -- one cannot return without having been away.
The lyrical second theme, interestingly, remains in the tonic key, making the exposition almost identical to the recapitulation--much easier to learn, but a less useful model for future sonatina study.
Each of Koch's exercises gives a different combination of phrases in the tonic key (I-phrases) and phrases in the dominant key (V-phrases).