Definitions

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

  • adj. Music Lacking a tonal center or key; characterized by atonality.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Lacking a tonal center or key.

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

  • adj. characterized by avoidance of traditional western tonality

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • His interest in atonal music drew him on to study composition at the Juilliard School of Music (M.S., 1962) in New York City and then to Paris to study under Nadia Boulanger.

    Five People Born on January 31 | myFiveBest

  • "City" is sometimes described as atonal, but perhaps "supertonal" might be a better term, it seems to exist in every key and every tempo at the same: great, towering, unresolved dissonances the size of the Chrysler building are constructed right in front of you and then tumble to the ground "watch out for flying glass!"

    The Jazz Scene: Birthdays and Mermaids

  • (Seriously, every Spanish-English dictionary I have says "atonal" is the same in both languages.

    Archive 2006-10-01

  • In the early twentieth century, however, composers led by [Arnold] Schoenberg began to rally against the traditional conventions of music to produce compositions which lack tonal centres, known as atonal music.

    The Atonal President

  • In the early twentieth century, however, composers led by Schoenberg began to rally against the traditional conventions of music to produce compositions which lack tonal centres, known as atonal music.

    Telegraph.co.uk: news, business, sport, the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Sunday Telegraph

  • Guitarist Dimitri Coats, best known for the band Burning Brides, hammers out his riffs like a drummer and, in a live version, offers a pithy solo that recalls the atonal squirm of Black Flag founder Greg Ginn.

    NPR Topics: News

  • I thought for sure that "atonal" would first turn up in a discussion of Liszt's music, but "omnitonal" seems to be the phrase that his contemporaries — those who had the chance to hear pieces like the Bagatelle, at least — used.

    Mod squad

  • Not only these soft 'atonal' harmonies, but also the harsher whole-tome scales and aggregates, much used by Debussy and other contemporaries, appear in several parts of 'Boris Godounov' [.]

    Mod squad

  • I've walked out of concerts hearing people complain bitterly about that "atonal" music they played and why don't they play music people want to hear, like Schubert?

    My Prerogative

  • The hum and clatter of the pump and the buzz from the lights make a kind of atonal symphony which I have grown used to after a year of clandestine night swimming.

    My Life In Pools

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