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n. pl. a·to·nal·i·ties Music
1. The absence of a tonal center and of harmonies derived from a diatonic scale corresponding to such a center; lack of tonality.
2. A style of composition that lacks such a tonal center and its derived harmonies.


(ˌeɪtəʊˈnælɪtɪ; ˌæ-)
1. (Music, other) absence of or disregard for an established musical key in a composition
2. (Music, other) the principles of composition embodying this and providing a radical alternative to the diatonic system


(ˌeɪ toʊˈnæl ɪ ti)

music composed without reference to traditional tonality and employing the chromatic pitches on a free and equal basis.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.atonality - the absence of a keyatonality - the absence of a key; alternative to the diatonic system
musical notation - (music) notation used by musicians
tonality, key - any of 24 major or minor diatonic scales that provide the tonal framework for a piece of music
References in periodicals archive ?
This phenomenological resonance serves as the same problematic starting point for later systems attempting to rationalize atonal music, most prominently Allen Forte's The Structure of Atonal Music (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973).
For example, Guido Pannain vehemently condemned atonal music, as did the Roman composer Mario Labroca who praised the birth of more or less tonally oriented 'national schools' as an alternative.
The closure of the Bauhaus, the prohibition of Jazz and atonal music as "cultural Bolshevism," the touring Exhibition of Degenerate Art, and the burning of modernist paintings by the Berlin Fire Brigade (an uncanny adumbration of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451) all signaled to observers that the express train of Weimar modernism hit the buffers in 1933 with disastrous personal consequences not just for art, but also the artists who created it and the liberal intelligentsia who appreciated it.
Atonal music, hardly the cutting edge today, was precisely the kind of thing that Hitler's minions loathed - and ultimately banned.
During these three days you will learn how to play atonal music in a group with the help of visual tools.
A young woman at a university in the 1920s was rare, but to be studying in the male dominated field of composition, let alone modern, atonal music and graduating summa cum laude in 1927 with a graduate degree, was nearly unheard of.
Schneider had not done anything with classical music since college in the early '80s when she felt "terrified'' by the classical world's emphasis on atonal music and switched to jazz.
Although aspects of Hanging Gardens' atonal music suggest that Schoenberg valued gendered-feminine principles in his compositional style, a closer analysis of the work's musical language shows an intact masculinist hegemony.
For the bulk of the 20th century, you force fed audiences on overly academic atonal music while simultaneously engaging in systematic dismantling of arts education.
With this model, we can analyze the time-structures of such diverse phenomena as atonal music, political decision-making, leaps of memory and the boredom of waiting, and simultaneities and delays in everyday experience and behaviour.
In 1973 Allen Forte published his highly influential book, The Structure of Atonal Music, in which he develops a set-theoretic analysis of serial music.
Using a model in which the dialectic of simultaneity and delay organizes time into elastic rhythms, he analyzes the time-structure of such diverse phenomena as atonal music, political decision making, leaps of memory and the boredom of waiting, and simultaneities and delays in everyday experience and behavior.