from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Music The seventh tone of a diatonic scale, immediately below the tonic.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- adj. Of or pertaining to imperfectly articulated sounds or utterances that are inaudible or barely audible, as characterized by Dr. James Rush (Guide to Pronunciation, 1833).
- n. The note immediately below the upper note of a musical scale.
- n. An imperfectly articulated sound or utterance, as characterized by Dr. James Rush (Guide to Pronunciation, 1833).
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- adj. Applied to, or distinguishing, a speech element consisting of tone, or proper vocal sound, not pure as in the vowels, but dimmed and otherwise modified by some kind of obstruction in the oral or the nasal passage, and in some cases with a mixture of breath sound; -- a term introduced by Dr. James Rush in 1833. See Guide to Pronunciation, §§155, 199-202.
- n. A subtonic sound or element; a vocal consonant, as b, d, g, n, etc.; a subvocal.
- n. The seventh tone of the scale, or that immediately below the tonic; -- called also subsemitone.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In music, the next tone below the upper tonic of a scale; the leading-tone or seventh, as E in the scale of F. Also called subsemitone.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. (music) the seventh note of the diatonic scale
Sorry, no etymologies found.
I'm reminded of the problem that physicists have when they're looking at subtonic particles.
= Indefinite Syllables = are capable of almost indefinite prolongation; they are those which terminate in a tonic, or any subtonic except one of the three abrupt subtonics, _b_, _d_, _g_; for example, _awe_, _fudge_,
If the terminal sound is a tonic, or a flowing subtonic, the implication consists of a gentle murmuring prolongation of the terminal element coalescing with the initial element of the next word; if the terminal element is a flowing atonic the prolongation will not be accompanied by a murmur; but in either case the vocal organs, while prolonging the sound of one word, prepare, as it were, to begin the next.
Some syllables that so end, by virtue of tonic or subtonic elements which they may contain, are capable of _some_ prolongation; for example, _warp_, _dart_, _block_, _grab_, _dread_,
Be careful not to convert the subtonic into a tonic.
-- Utter the word _bud_ slowly, and detach from the rest of the word the obscure murmur heard in pronouncing the first letter: this is the _subtonic_ represented by _b_.
But the correct and distinct pronunciation of the subtonic, and especially of the atonic, elements, when they occur, as is so frequent in English words, in combination, is not so easily accomplished; and orthoepy, in this respect, as a _habit_, cannot be secured without great care and incessant practice.
"The Green Man [his nickname at the time] always played his arpeggios back to front, and in the subtonic key, which forced the listener to rethink his assumptions about where a solo should go," recalls Parnell, who played bass with Miles Davis, Art Tatum, and Thelonious Monk.