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Related to polytonality: sprechstimme, tone cluster


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

pol′y·to′nal (-tō′nəl) adj.
pol′y·to′nal·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˌpɒlɪtəʊˈnælɪtɪ) or


(Music, other) music the simultaneous use of more than two different keys or tonalities
ˌpolyˈtonal adj
ˌpolyˈtonally adv
ˌpolyˈtonalist n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌpɒl i toʊˈnæl ɪ ti)

also pol•y•ton•al•ism

(-ˈtoʊn lˌɪz əm)

the simultaneous use of two or more musical tonalities.
pol`y•ton′al•ist, n.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.polytonality - music that uses two or more different keys at the same time
music - an artistic form of auditory communication incorporating instrumental or vocal tones in a structured and continuous manner
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Fully aware this union needed to exist in a collection for beginning pianists, Bartok's diverse use of time signatures, harmonies, modes, polytonality and textures abounds.
Attempting to define Poulenc's complex role in modern music, Karol Beffa highlights a rejection of accepted trends (atonality, polytonality) in favor of independent paths, which included nods to modality ("Chanson d'Orkenise" from Banalites) and jazz ("Hotel" from the same cycle).
Rather, they made use of traditional musical forms, procedures, and techniques (e.g., symphony, concerto, counterpoint, motivic development) while employing an expanded, flexible conception of tonality (including polytonality and pandiatonicism) that frequently resulted in high levels of dissonance.
"The harmony is traditional; no influences of atonality or polytonality can be found.
Ardevol's compositions are characterized by polytonality, rhythmic complexity, serialism, and neoclassicism.
Kavallaris comments on the piece's composition by saying "the piece uses a kind of polytonality and harmonic treatment of the traditional melodies which are drawn out from Cyprus' musical tradition, and besides, the piece follows the strophic character of the traditional songs."
(18) In an essay on Syringa, Lawrence Kramer describes what heconsiders the correspondence between the "polytonality"and "polyrhythms" of Carter's superimposed chordsand musical textures with what he calls the "polyvocality"of Ashbery's poem and the accompanying Greek fragments thatCarter has gathered) (19) I would simply rephrase this"polyvocality" between a poem of sustained romanticpassion (the Greek fragments) and one that is conscious of thetransience of all things, especially passion (Ashbery), to point outthat the contradiction is present in both poems.
6, a quirky, percussive and mercurial composition that demands not only fierce technical prowess but an incisive understanding of the composer's polytonality, dissonance and chromaticism as it applies to this, the first of his three "War Sonatas." It meanders between harrowing bombast and jocular waltzing through a kaleidoscope of glass shards.
contrasting pronunciations accentuate the perplexing polytonality that
Though George did encourage Charles to experiment with polytonality, microtones, atonality, and rhythmic complexity, it is important to remember that George also taught his son traditional harmony and voice leading, and even attempted to write a harmony book.
Jackson's craft, Ellison goes on, "is an art which swings, and in the South there are many crudely trained groups who use it naturally for the expression of religious feeling who could teach the jazz modernists quite a bit about polyrhythmics and polytonality" (91).
They are at once in the atmosphere of several tonalities, without polytonality, the composer being free to give predominance to one of the tonalities or to leave the tonal impression unsettled.