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  1. Jan 2004 – Aug 2004

This article is a mess![edit]

In a way, this is completely appropriate, since the concept of tonality itself is a mess. But it's also probably the most important motivating concept in modern music theory, so it'd be nice to have a good article on it. This passage is a particular offense:

<< Music is considered to be tonal if it includes the following five descriptions of tonality: (1) it uses a Major or minor (diatonic) scale system (2) it contains triadic harmonies (three note chords) (3) it has a tonic (central tone) (4) it has a leading tone (7th scale degree) (5) resolution of dissonance (that is: if a chord or note is played (like a leading tone 7th scale degree) that doesn't sound final, the final sounding chord is played after it (like the tonic) to resolve the piece) >>

(1) is disputable; it isn't hard to think of examples of music that are recognizably tonal but for which it would be a stretch to try to interpret them as diatonic. (2) is completely ill-worded. It suggests that any old three-note chords will do! What it should say is that the music uses functional harmony (based on major and minor triads, etc.). Not that everyone would agree that this is a necessary condition for tonality. (4) is completely absurd. I've never heard anyone suggest that a leading tone is a necessary condition for tonality. I suppose functional harmony requires a leading tone, but its silly to make this a self-standing entry in a definition. Finally, (5) is the most poorly, confusingly worded thing I've ever seen in a Wikipedia article. I think the idea here is that tonality requires a consonance/dissonance distinction, which is fine. At that point, why not just cite the consonance/dissonance article, rather than tie oneself in knots trying to explain it in multiply embedded parentheses?

I think if the article is going to include a "definition" of tonality, not in itself a bad idea, it has to acknowledge that there is no agreed upon definition. The strongest contenders, it seems to me, are (a) a sense of tonal center (a "home" pitch class), itself not an entirely well-defined property of music (in fact, more of a way of hearing than an intrinsic musical property), and (b) the use of functional harmony, which is also a little tricky to define (with the appropriate breadth for dealing with chromatic harmony). Diatonicity and consonance/dissonance are important adjunct ideas, but too slippery for a definition. (What are the criteria for a musical passage to be diatonic? How do you know when dissonance is being "treated as dissonance"?)

Jason D Yust 15:28, 5 August 2007 (UTC)


There is no discussion concerning the innovations of Russian composers such as Alexander Scriabin and Nikolay Roslavets. Schoenberg may not be the singular pioneer that Euro-centric people think he is. Roslavets may have produced a rational 12 tone system before Schoenberg did, and Scriabin was before them both. The 1907 fifth sonata breaks from conventional western tonality, and some shorter pieces may predate it and involve similar innovation. Because of politics, revolutionary-Soviet-Cold War, the work of Roslavets has been practically forgotten, but he deserves to be discussed just as much as Schoenberg does, and Scriabin definitely does as well. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 20:33, 14 May 2007 (UTC).

This article needs to be rewritten[edit]

I will attempt to do this over a number of weeks, and would be pleased to receive feedback from the previous writers. I've had a go at the opening. Tony 14:50, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

Can the rewrite look into the use of "which" versus "that." It's silly grammar, but misuse of "which" makes an otherwise well-written sentence confusing. Here's an example of the normal use of the two: There is a note that is consonant with another, which pleases the ear. 20:57, 15 April 2007 (UTC)


I have to admit that I've learnt something new here: a term for the lowered seventh degree of a tonal scale. It's unfamiliar to most musicians, although I'm having second thoughts about having removed it from the table. Tony 14:57, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

I assume that means that you removed it because you think it is unfamiliar to most musicians. I am curious to see the survey or study you base this on. What do you call the lowered seventh degree (or rather the seventh degree a whole tone below the tonic) of a scale? Hyacinth 12:22, 10 December 2005 (UTC)


I have several factual and POV problems with Tony 01's edits.

1. While the focus on tonic triad is historically correct, it hasn't been the case for a century in theory or practice for a century. Quartal harmony has been regarded as tonal for almost a century.

2. Calling it "European". This is excessively ethnocentric, it may have originated in a certain area of Europe - and many folk musics are not tonal even in Europe proper, however, it isn't "European" in the same sense as the "European parliament" or being tied on a continuing basis to Europe.

3. The second inversion is the second inversion, it shouldn't be removed.

4. A great deal of music is not made by the media system, and there is a far amount of commercial popular music based on india's system of ragas, which is not, in the definition that Tony argues for "tonal".

5. Other modes that church modes have become very common - including blues and the magic scale - in modern tonal practice.

The changes seemed more appropriate to say, common practice, which was far more a European or European derrived musical system.

Stirling Newberry 20:25, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

It seems that you should go ahead and add these facts or make the relevant changes, then - they are all good points. Just keep the prose concise... (What do you think, Tony?) Dave 21:36, July 25, 2005 (UTC)
I'd like to discuss the changes Tony 01 would like to make, I'm not clear what is being added. Stirling Newberry 22:34, 25 July 2005 (UTC)
What is the magic scale? Hyacinth 12:24, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Oh my god, you've reverted the entire effort? That's hard to believe. I'm afraid I have problems with WAY too much of the previous, and sadly, current text. We're going to have to go through the entire text, bit by bit, I'm afraid, because the existing article is woefully inadequate. To take the points you raise, one by one:

(1) Please provide references and justify your statement that quartal harmony is tonal. I think that you'll find little support for this assertion among music theorists. Tonality is almost universally regarded as being based on the triad, and thus having ended in art-music during the 20th century. Quartal harmony, as practised by, say, Bartok, is regarded as being a move away from tonality. The article should be plain and simple for a non-specialist to read. Going with the conventional notion of tonality is the easiest way to do this. Alternatives, such as quartal harmony, might be mentioned further down in the article.

(2) Whether you like it or not, tonality WAS a European development, just as the drone was an Indian innovation; pointing that out doesn't mean that the drone is solely Indian. I felt that NOT mentioning 'European' was ethnocentric, since it may have implied that what was essentially European was global. Constraining the definition to a geographical and cultural area is necessary if tonality is to be compared and contrasted with other music traditions.

(3) I'll accept reference to 'second inversion', but not without explaining that it's essentially different from root position and first inversion.

(4) Please be logical: I wrote that tonality 'remains the dominant feature of popular music'—that DOESN'T mean that popular music is entirely tonal, as you assume I stated or implied in your fourth point. The statement stands perfectly well here, since it's important to explain the waning of the system in traditional European music, against its flourishing in popular music worldwide. Why on earth shouldn't the article start by positioning tonality in cultural terms?

(5) I don't understand the relevance of that point; it can be dealt with later, and is not inconsistent with my proposed opening. The opening should paint the big picture in cultural and technical terms. The new text doesn't seem to be inconsistent with most of your objections.

Chords are quite different from triads, and tones from notes. Let's use the terminology precisely and consistently, to minimise confusion in the relatively uninformed reader.

I hope that we can do this co-operatively rather than fighting a war. Doing a complete revert is like starting a war.

Tony 02:59, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

PS, Stirling, I've just read your personal page, which is very much to my liking, politically and musically. I do hope that we can co-operate in the rewriting of this article. Tony

My earlier talk comments were eaten by a browser crash, sorry for taking so long to get back on things.
1. I'd have no problem with "originated in Europe" but "European" implies still presently a phenonenon limited to Europe. Not in line with current theory, where other musics are now thought of as tonal (including some from Africa) and a wide range of practioners are non-European.
2. Globally India Pop, which is based on Ragas, has millions of listeners and and makes thousands of records. It's more popular in Africa than US pop us. Most popular music isn't really accurate. One can say commercial pop based on US models is tonal, by way of the incorporation of African modes and tonality into R&B and Jazz, but that requires some explanation.
3. The second inversion of chords is relatively common pre-1760. Bach has a famous use of a second inverted I as a substitute subdominant in es ist genung. The second inversion fell out of favor with the practice of Mozart and Haydn, and in fact one can separate out real from fake Mozart based on Mozart's characteristic of using German sixths rather than the second inversion of the Vth. (cf. Maunder) Second inversions are also used in guitar music relatively frequently and are a standard part of the guitarist's arsenal.
4. Quartal harmony has been regarded as part of tonality for some time. No one calls the impressionists "atonal" and few question the tonal credentials of quartal using composers such as Scriabin, Debussy, Sibelius or Hindemith. In fact Hindemith's theory of tonality includes quartal harmony, and his Harmonie du Welt has extensive quartal passages, and that is generally regarded as a tonal work. According to many theorists, especially Schenkerans, tonality is shown by the through base, and it matters far less which chords are built, so long as the urlinie in top and bottom is present.
I suggest we make tonality/temp and work on the article there, bringing it up to standard and then pushing to the main page - as there are a large numbers of stakeholders in this article.
Best Stirling Newberry 03:00, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Stirling: Thanks for your reply, which contains some good points; I think we have to come to a consensus about the semantic boundaries surrounding the term 'tonal/tonality'.

I'm very on-side with Schenker; although I don't know as much as I should about Schenkerian analysis, his basic theory informs my outlook on tonal language.

I'm unsure of the ramifications of making the article 'temp', since I'm relatively new to Wikipedia; is it explained somewhere? I'll respond in detail soon. Tony 15:50, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

1. Setting up a temp page is easy, we copy the current article there, work on the temp version,a and when there is consensus move it forward.

2. Remember we are here to document notable uses of the term, and label where they come from, so that a reader who comes here with a reference to tonality in hand, will be able to find the use they see in the source.

Stirling Newberry 16:24, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Are you able to set up the temp page, then? I wonder whether it would be diplomatic to signal to other stakeholders that this process is occurring.

So you advise opening with a semantic, definitional approach? Is it appropriate to list the various meanings of the term 'tonality', and then perhaps to embark on further, more detailed explanation of one or more of these meanings?

Tony <>

Tony 07:35, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Let's start with the opening para[edit]

Currently it's this:

Tonality is the character of music written with hierarchical relationships of pitches, rhythms, and chords to a "center" or tonic. Tonic is sometimes used interchangeably with key. The term tonalité was borrowed from Castil-Blaze (1821, François Henri Joseph Blaze) by François-Joseph Fétis in 1840 (Reti, 1958; Judd, 1998; Dahlhaus). The term is often used as being synonymous with Major-Minor tonality, but is, in more recent theory, used more broadly to encompass a number of systems of musical organization.

In my view, there are several problems that we need to address.

(1) 'is the character of'—what does it mean? How about: 'Tonality is a system of writing music with hierarchical relationships ...'. (2) I don't understand the inclusion of 'rhythms' in the hierarchical relationship to the centre. (3) A central note applies to most of the music cultures in the world, and doesn't distinguish tonality from pretonal music in the European tradition. I've always understood the unique aspect of tonality to be the central triad. Much renaissance and medieval music, for example, lacks a sense of triadic/root movement. Isn't this important in defining the tonal system? (4) The second sentence may confuse the reader; can someone give an example of exact interchangeability between 'tonic' and 'key'. In any case, is it important enough to put in the second sentence? (5) 'is often used as being synonymous' needs to be reworded. (6) If 'tonality' is to be broadly defined, as appears here, I wonder whether a separate article is required, perhaps entitled 'The tonal period', or 'European tonality', or something like that. Alternatively, an account of tonality as many people understand it (i.e., the system that was dominant from about 1600 to 1910) could be dealt with in a separate section here.

Tony 04:28, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

Through-bass versus thorough-bass[edit]

Having undertaken a typo cleanup of this otherwise excellent article, I found several references to the term "through bass". As these linked terms have no target article, I wonder if they too are typos and should actually be "thorough-bass". Thanks, Chas 2 October 2005 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 20:28, 1 October 2005

Thank you for taking the time to copy-edit the article. I'm not an expert in the field, but certainly it seems from context like they intend to say thorough-bass. So the question is whether or not "through-bass" is actually an acceptable variant; I honestly don't know, but Google doesn't seem to think so. If it is valid, we can make a redirect so that linking through-bass will take you to figured bass. —HorsePunchKid 06:21, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Sorry, but I think it's far from excellent, and requires a complete rewrite. Tony 07:09, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

And what about the question at hand? Or was your point that by rewriting the article completely, the links to through-bass could be removed? —HorsePunchKid 19:44, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

I hope that it is helpful. The term should be "thorough bass", normally without hyphen. However, why not use the more common term "figured bass" (after mentioning t b on first occurrence)? Tony 00:47, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

I have chosen to write it as thoroughbass, (without space or hyphen) not only because this form links directly to the relevant article in wikipedia (Figured bass) but also, following a little research, I found it is the form used by such authoritative sources as: Oxford University Press, The Encyclopedia Britannica. and Microsoft Encarta. Chas —Preceding unsigned comment added by 11 October 2005 (talkcontribs)


I don't think that the term "tonicality" is common or accepted enough to appear in the introduction, so I removed it. Hyacinth 09:03, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Peter Schat, in Tone Clock (ISBN 3718653699, 1993, p.26), argues that "'tonal' and 'atonal' are the wrong words" yet puts tonicality in scare quotes at its first appearance. Leigh Landy, in What's the Matter with Today's Experimental Music?; Organized Sound Too Rarely Heard (ISBN 3718651688, 1991, p.94), explains that he uses the term to embrace "all music, be it modal, strict tonal, pentatonic, or whatever, as long as it is based on tone centers". Hyacinth 12:26, 26 February 2006 (UTC)


  • This page is 36 kilobytes long. This may be longer than is preferable; see article size.

The article is too long. Hyacinth 09:21, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Audio samples[edit]

The audio samples of mozart are too fast to get the point across. Someone should make them slower.

Table of Tonal Functions[edit]

I just read this article for the first time today, and I'd like to help with the copy editing because there is a lot of material here that I could more readily agree with if it were only expressed in simpler, easier-to-understand language.

The first suggestion I'd like to make is about the "chart" of tonal functions. It seems to me that this is completely anti-intuitive and more difficult to understand than it should be because the whole thing is arranged upside down. I mean, heck, the first this you see is that the "supertonic" is below the "tonic!" So I'd like to suggest that the table be rearranged as follows. I need to learn a little bit more about how to center the text before I can do this myself, but in the meantime if anybody has any objections or comments about how to improve this, please state them over the next few days, and I'll proceed accordingly. Spventi 06:34, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Table of Tonal Functions

Roman Numeral Solfege Name (Function)
I Do/Ut Tonic
VII Ti / Si Leading/Subtonic
VI La Sub-Mediant
V Sol Dominant
IV Fa Sub-Dominant
III Mi Mediant
II Re Supertonic
I Do / Ut Tonic

Did you mean to make this table?

Function Roman Numeral Solfege
Leading/Subtonic VII Ti/Si
Sub-Mediant VI La
Dominant V Sol
Sub-Dominant IV Fa
Mediant III Mi
Supertonic II Re
Tonic I Do/Ut

Hyacinth 07:41, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

No, actually, I meant exactly what I proposed, although perhaps it is better to have the numerals and solfege names to the left. I would like to find a way to make this table easier to understand for people who do not already understand these concepts. Musically, these relations only have meaning along a time line, and I think that spreading it out horizontally helps illustrate that. After all, we never show scales as clusters of notes on a single stem. Also, it would be nice to find something that implies visually that things beging and end at the tonic. Maybe we need a graphic showing these relationships arranged around circle with the tonic at the top. See what I mean?

Spventi 08:34, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

I would like to point out that the table as it exists currently is misleading in terms of content more so than form. Are we talking about roman numerals in the major form only? Only capital roman numerals are being used here. If this is the case then what is the table trying to communicate? A major scale, a minor one? As it is now no conventional scale is represented. If the table is describing the use of roman numerals in general then it should include lower case roman numerals as well. It is my understanding convention is to use lower case roman numerals when describing minor chords, and to use capital roman numerals when describing major chords. Both should be present if we are going to be thorough.
Furthermore, if one is to include the corresponding solfege syllables, then if we are also describing minor chords we should include syllables used with flats/sharps as well: "di/ra" (#1/b2), "ri/me" (#2/b3), "fi/se" (#4/b5), "si/le" (#5/b6), "li/te" (#6/b7). I realize these are mostly used with "movable do", but I think we should include them so that both systems may be represented.Omnibus progression (talk) 23:49, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Several serious problems[edit]

This article makes a number of claims about the relationship of perceptual processes, the overtone series, and musical tonality that should be identified as being more controversial than they currently are-- see specifically the section "Uses of the Term", subsection "By nature". Far more seriously, the citations backing up these assertions are of the lowest quality- not to peer-reviewed journal articles, but to self-published books and personal web-pages which make extremely broad and untenable claims that are far from mainstream viewpoints in music theory, history, or cognitive science.

If the relationship of tonality to the overtone series should be handled (which is certainly interesting and important), it needs to be done by citing reputable sources.

There are also a number of factual errors. Eg:

These scales are referred to as "diatonic" because it is felt that there are two fundamental centers of attraction: the tonic note and the dominant note.

This is not why the scale is called diatonic.

I'd go as far as saying that this is probably the worst article I've ever seen on Wikipedia!

Chris 19:41, September 6, 2006 (UTC) User:Redpony

Note that this article also uses [at least] six other sources besides the Fink citations. If this is the worst article you have ever seen on Wikipedia, I must assume you haven't looked at many articles.
Factual errors may be removed, marked as such in the article, or moved to this section of the talk page. The false diatonic etymology was added fairly recently. Have you noticed any other errors?
Do you have reputable sources regarding the relationship between the overtone series and tonality? Hyacinth 22:52, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

As always, if you are knowledgeable about a topic, improving the article yourself is allowed and encouraged. Factual errors? Fix them! Don't see the cites you want? Add them! Kwertii 20:21, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

There's a fairly good chapter on the definition as well as definitional problems associated with tonality in a disertation from the early 90's that cites the more established authorities on tonality on the music theory/musicology side. Even though music theory is a fractured discpline (it's tough to balance the applied needs as well of performers, composers, and historians with the intellectual trends brought on by developments in psychology and the cognitive sciences), there are reasonably standard definitions for tonality which would provide a more clear starting point for redoing this article according such that it meets Wikipedia's standards. Of course, this dissertation and its sources don't delve go into the epsitemological questions that seem to be occupying certain authors of this page (and which are interesting), but those might be more properly brought up in a discussion in terms of music cognition and what the constraints on a musical cognitive system might look like. Lehral & Jackendoff's Generative Theory for Tonal Music and David Temperley's Cognition of Basic Musical Structures (the intro at least) describe some of the issues associated with the relationship between music theory (and theoretical constructs/descriptions like tonality) and the musical intuitions of listeners, composers, and performers. Still, the theories that would seek to connect structural elements of music with intuitions (and more remotely, with physical phenomena like the overtone series) are highly speculative and not well worked out (compared to something like, for example, modern theories of syntax in language), and relying too heavily on them would not be appropriate for an encyclopedia entry.

Redpony 03:49, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Intro accidentally removed[edit]

Sorry for the carelessness. Fixed it right away —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Greenwyk (talkcontribs) 11:09, 4 December 2006 (UTC). Sorry -- like you (whoiever originally accidentally removed the introduction) I also accidentally removed your comment about it, and replaced it as fast as I could -- but forgot to sign "Greenwyk." I seem to have lost your identity in the process. Greenwyk 01:01, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Several serious problems 2[edit]

Agreeing with the call for citations about the "natural" basis for tonality, since they exist, I have added them.

To make the article a little shorter, someone may wish to move the citations down below, under references and sources, and possibly refer to the quotes and viewpoint descriptions only by author's name & year (Reti, Gustin, etc.) in the "by nature:" category.

Using the number format may not be agreeable to some. So change that if desired. Or put the whole list of quotes, descriptions of theories and views, & authors down below under "Theory of tonal music" where there is more room (which would be best I think) -- and simply outline the list of various authors on both the "nature" and the "nurture" side of the debate (the latter has many sources, but I haven't chosen them yet -- or someone else may know better which should be chosen & quoted), and put the short list under the "by nature:" subhead under "Uses of the term."

No strong feelings about this, except that the sources and quotes, now known, should be listed to meet Wiki "balanced POV" guides, whatever one may agree with about any of the views. I don't believe the accepted view of this controversy is as "nurture" as some say -- maybe in music academia, it may be. But in science & archaeology academia, and in the general public (tonal popular music as evidence) it isn't that settled by far, and much more leans toward "nature". Greenwyk 08:53, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

The 'nature definition', part 3[edit]

  • The citations are interesting; however, I still think the "nature definition" has problems that must be addressed (although it should be noted that I am not arguing necessarily against the content, merely the form).
    • First, the "nature definition" given seems to be trying to account for the fact that tonal music is learned very naturally and automatically by children (giving rise to the phenomenon of child prodigies), that tonal music seems to be understood automatically and without special education by everyone, and in similar ways (e.g., in most contexts everyone hears a leading tone as "leading to" a tonic). These aspects, in short, make out not a "natural" definition of tonality at all, but a psychological conception of tonality (since it accounts for learning, understanding, and hearing), along the lines of Chomsky's psychological conception of language. Furthermore, it supports a specific, rationalist (cf. the Bourke quote) theory of human musical competence that presumes that humans are predisposed to acquire/internalize certain musical systems and not others because of features of the human mind/brain, the auditory perceptual system, etc. This theory wants to account for the fact that the features of tonal music (the notes, intervals, chords, rhythms, meters, etc) are what they are and not some other way. And it wants to account for the seeming non-arbitrariness of important elements of tonal music (eg., the intervals of importance are related to the overtone series, the rhythms and meters are related to simple whole-number ratios of their beats). In this theory, these facts are not accidental, they are motivated by the way people's ears/brains/minds work.
    • The psychological definition is a perfectly wonderful definition of tonality (in fact, defining tonality without talking about its effects on hearers is certainly possible, but not really very interesting), and it is well-accepted that some kind of rationalist theory is almost certainly correct. In light of this particular theory, the data-points cited (the failure of alternative systems of musical organization (atonality) to become popularized, the prevalence of perfect and consonant intervals in the world's musics) are potentially interesting. But, without an explicit theory, they can be construed in a variety of ways.
  • In short, I would propose that the "nature definition" be replaced with a "psychological definition" of tonality. Under this definition, the "essence of tonality" is the nature of the perceptions that listeners have of tonal music. That is, it elevates the shared agreement about what is consonant, what is dissonant, patterns of tension and relaxation and about how tonal music "works" to be the defining feature of tonality. In this definition, if one wanted to bring in the "nature vs nurture" debate (I would avoid those terms since they are over-used, vague, and politically charged), there can be a discussion of two possible theories for why tonality has the features it has:
    • "The empiricist theory" (which is popular in some academic circles) says that all of music is learnt by convention and any possible system could be learnt (imagine one where loud notes act like dominants and soft notes are tonics). All music is culture. I'm not sure who to cite here- this viewpoint is popular in music history departments and music theory departments.
    • "The rationalist theory" (which is popular in other academic circles). This says that the human mind/ear is predisposed to learn some musical systems rather than others. In particular, it can account for the universal distribution of consonant intervals, the prevalence of the pentatonic scale, isochrony, etc., without having to attribute this to coincidence. Here, you might cite Lerdahl&Jackendoff (1981) or anything where Steven Pinker or Jackendoff talk about music, as well as all the citations currently under the "nature" definition (although I think this section is far too long- the details of this argument are better suited to a pursuasive piece, not an encyclopedia entry).
  • The bottom line is that if we want to keep some discussion on the relationship between "nature" and tonality, we must make the theories that explain this relationship explicit (since tonality is presumably something created by humans/the human mind, it is therefore in some sense "outside nature", and explanation for the relationship is required). If we cannot do this (or if we think there are too many theories to account for, or they are too tentative), then I think this section should be removed completely since failing to do so undermines Wikipedia's neutrality.

Redpony 21:10, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

I cannot offer a definition of tonality as you ask. But I believe it is naturally caused. Whether caused internally (hard-wired) by the physiology of the ear, or by the external structure of sound acoustics, or both, is not conclusive in general academic circles.
However, the idea it is all learned is not generally adopted in archaeology nor in musical physics. There is no desire to accept coincidence as an explantion when archaeology and other sources keep bringing up new studies and artifacts with 5 and 7-note scales, similar or the same. The world public (in general) practices tonal music, and by that, seems to agree, even historically and prehistorically.
On the other hand, the present musical academics are loathe to change their view about conditioning being in vogue, namely, that we can "learn anything" equally well (namely, tonal or non-tonal music). But they have invested lives and careers heavily in non-tonal or post-tonal music and Skinnerian theories of human learning and -- in my opinion -- are stuck isolated there for some time to come. Most in that area still know little or nothing of the last 20 years of music archaeology, nor much about acoustics, which contradicts their views.
I would tend to believe that a section on nature/nurture could be written from what already exists in separate places in this article. Combine it, represent the major theories, including mine, I would hope, and indicate the evidence that is presented, so far, in the sources so far recently listed.
The nurture view needs to be sourced, quoted and presented -- or can develop on its own, as there is clearly a passion for it when we see some editors asserting that origins of music and is all "guesswork" and that all is "learned." If you believe that is true, and a notable view, then present it, rather than preventing, any other view.
Regarding internal or external "forces" or explanations for widespread similarites in scales, intervals -- and notes seeming to be related (much as we see likenesses among family members' faces -- despite the differences), note:
Remember this happens whether we learn it from the nature of sound we hear from overtones of much-used octaves, fifths and fouths -- or whether the ear processes the matter internally as a physiological or biological effect. We don't have to solve this issue of which or both, today, in order to proceed.
Tonic, dom and subdom, all arise from people knowing nothing of acoustics; They are the 3 chords that easily harmonize almost any melody, West or East; They are parallel to the loudness of the overtones of the three most widespread intervals, thus originating tonality along with the scale (including "leading tones," which happen many places -- Scotland, or China, called pien, meaning "becoming," "crossing over"). Or Leave out those least loud overtones (3rds & 7ths), and you have the pentatonic. Monumental coincidence or a simply explainable pattern? Encyclopedias can record the history and description of a debate -- like evolution vs. creationism -- and should in this case as well.
I would love to do it, but as a long-time author in that debate, I restrict myself to sources, citations, journal/book quotes, and minor edits, because unlike Brittanica, Wikipedia editors jump down my throat for even existing around here. But I will propose some things in talk, if no one else will write it. I have researched for over 50 years (and published with more than fair notability, especially recently) on the origins of music, scales (melody), harmony, etc.
I leave it to you all to agree either removing the debate altogether (very wrong, I think) or finding a way to make it known to readers in a NPOV. Neutral doesn';t mean we must make the matter inconclusive. Only that we present all the views fairly, and let the readers conclude what they wish. --Bob Fink Greenwyk 06:48, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

To Bob Fink: I hope you reconsider your decision. As an experienced author you should contribute - and test your patience with other editors. That's Wikipedia. Old Palimpsest 19:20, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

Needed citation placed in sources[edit]

Removal of all of Pleasant's views left item 2 without its reference (for "similar findings"). Reposted short description of Pleasant's findings & work. Also entered missing source for Pleasant's book.) Greenwyk 17:53, 24 December 2006 (UTC)

The phrase in the section Theory of tonal music last paragraph, last sentence, which reads: "(if anyone ever did so)" should be removed by whoever added it. The sources for this belief (that the diatonic is a Western scale or invention) are extremely numerous among writers in the music academic community, especially in music theory and ethnomusicology (midst terms like "Eurocentric" for those who see tonality and diatonics as in any way "natural"). I thought it was common knowledge, but I guess not.
Even in the next section, history of the term, the last paragraph there begins with an example of that very same or similar bias:
"While tonality is the most common form of organizing Western Music, it is not universal, nor is the seven note scale universal...." -- a view, which while not held in science, anthropology and archaeology academia (when a view is held at all), it is almost the "official line" of music academia and composers therein.
However, if anyone really needs a citation, I can provide many -- as can anyone, just by looking for examples of similar statements in any history of western music textbook or by searching google (possibly for the search phrases: "our scale," or the "Western scale," etc).
If no one comments, I'll remove the phrase, as it implies a negation of the verifiable accuracy of the statement to which it is attached. Greenwyk 19:10, 24 December 2006 (UTC)

Justify removals[edit]

The midi which demonstrates to listeners that the Kilmer version of the oldest known song is tonal-sounding provides information that removal of the midi prevents readers from hearing. I will replace the midi unless there is some reason for suppressing it from being heard. After all, this article is about tonality.

The observation that the holes in the Neanderthal flute match the spacing of a do-re-mi-fa sequence found in modern flutes (such as an Irish whistle) is not a POV. It is a fact verified simply by looking at the match of the spacings which have been measured. The match can be visually seen at Divje Babe (and at other websites which have requested permission to reproduce the picture).

Removing this factual observation appears to have no reason for it. The holes, whether human-made or chance-made, are there and can be seen and measured. Describing the actual appearance of a match is valid whether the disputed bone is a flute or not. Unless a relevant reason for claiming it is a "POV" is provided (other than asserting it's POV), the comment will be replaced. Bob Fink, 14:54, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

The midi is rich media, which should not be linked directly from an external link. If you think it should be content in the article, upload it to the wikimedia commons and link it from there.
As for the 4-holes idea, that's a point of view taken by your own research. The argument is at Talk:Divje Babe, and I won't bother with it here. The claim that is it POV is based on the fact that there are multiple published opposing viewpoints which you are well aware of (Chase, Nowell, d'Errico...). Just because you find the evidence conclusive does not mean the rest of the academic community does (and by the published sources, they clearly don't). - Rainwarrior 20:00, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
There are no published statements by d'Errico, Nowell, et al, which deny there are 4 holes. None. D'Errico, Nowell, et al, unlike yourself, have not redefined the meaning of the word "hole" to mean "made by humans." Only you have done that to claim a POV exists.
What they deny is that the two end holes (called "holes" at one point or another by everyone's writings -because they are "holes") were made by humans. The chewing damage around the holes indicated that, to them, the holes were caused along with the damage. But to deny they are holes is to deny the meaning of plain English. Even a non-round hole is still a hole. There's a very large English comprehension difference between denying they're holes and denying one view of how the holes were made.
You are inventing this phrase: "4-hole view" as a semantic fiction to justify it's some kind of POV. But as you well know, no one (not even myself) has used the phrase "4-hole view" or anything like it. The statement is not a POV by any Wiki guideline or rule you can cite. The statement will be restored unless you can come up with something more reasonable. The point you fail to realize is that even if the object is not a flute, the statment regarding the scale-spacings match and the line-up is still true, whatever word you use for the 4 "openings, holes, bites, etc." Whether important or not, on principle I cannot allow the squelching of a truthful statement.
As for the midi issue, I will comply with your request about that. Bob Fink 23:01, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
The ends may contain semicircular indents. Your claim that it is a "hole" is a claim that there was a complete hole before the chewing damage. If you are not claiming this, then the issue of "in line" is meaningless, because chewed off ends are perpendicular to the two complete holes (at which point the question of a do-re-mi scale as the sentence I trimmed is no longer relevant). The assertion that there were two additional holes in the bone before carnivore damage is YOURS, and not d'Errico's, Nowell's, Morley's or even Turk's. Again, this is a discussion for the Divje Babe page, and not here. Many of these other archaeologists don't even believe it's a man made artifact. And as I said at Talk:Divje Babe the lack of a published rebuttal to you does NOT INDICATE their agreement with you. The status of the artifact is in dispute and to say otherwise is purely POV. - Rainwarrior 06:59, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Most of the statements in your above paragraph are outrageously untrue, false, and unfounded. I will not continue to be provoked by statments the facts of which -- to correct -- will simply use up time, disrupt everything, and serve only your desire to target me, my edits, references, or verified information. Nothing to be done except to revert or replace your ridiculous edits for the incompetence that they are. Since you won't read -- or cannot understand accurately what you read -- of Turk, or me (even in Talk) and of others in the literature, or quote them or me rather than invent your own warped meaning about what was written or what I said, I'm finally aware I'm discussing with a deaf wall. You are impervious to evidence, facts, and believe you are infallible. You don't even seem able to consistently or accurately express the meaning of, or define the word "hole." You'll find someone else to drive crazy with distractions, but not me any longer. If you don't like it take it to an arbitrator. Happy New Year. --Bob Fink 05:14, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

You can attack the word "hole", but the real issue is that the status of the object is clearly in debate, and my edits make this clear. The assertion that it is diatonic isn't even really the major problem, it is the implications of it; For the presence of the diatonic scale (which is contested by Chase and Nowell, whether or not you think you have a counter-argument) to be relevant we must already assume that it IS a flute, and that it IS man-made. Both of these ideas are very much disputed, and to say that its holes match the diatonic scale without qualification is directly misleading. Again, the argument is at Divje Babe, and not here. - Rainwarrior 09:22, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Observations vs Interpretations and the Scientific method[edit]

For the sake of understanding the difference between "observations" (or measurements or evidence) and interpretations: Let's say the hole spacing matched the tooth-span of a wolf? Would making that unqualified observation be "misleading"? Or is it fair to mention as an accurate item of evidence? If truthful, it would not prove a wolf made the holes. Nor disprove it. It would just be an accurate observation. It's not necessary to assume holes are carnivore made just because the holes match an animal's tooth-span. Likewise, it isn't necessary or true that noting the holes match a diatonic sequence assumes the POV that it actually was intended to be diatonic.

To say that either observation cannot be made would in effect suppress evidence the reader has a right to know was measured. (BTW, for the record: None of the holes matched any animal's tooth-spans. That issue was examined and measured, and agreed upon.) The reader of those observations (re: wolf, or diatonic, either of which match is provable --or not-- by simple measurements) can him/herself decide what to make of those matches, without qualifying hints from the article's writers or editors. Thus the separating of POV or interpretation from observations and measurements should remain separate, as part of the scientific method. Bob F. Greenwyk 02:08, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

The attribution of a diatonic scale to the object is NOT an observation. We would need to be able to observe the length of the bone to do that. You know that Chase and Nowell have published their opinion that the spacings could not have been diatonic in the way you described. The status of the object is in dispute; that's the key fact here. We do NOT need the arguments for and against it here on the Tonality page. People will go to Divje Babe to learn them. - Rainwarrior 02:26, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
You really, really must try to read more carefully old chap. I NEVER attributed the scale to the bone. You read that into my remarks, tho that wasn't in my remarks. Read the original comment again and try to see that, if it's possible not to keep reading the inside of your own glasses? I measured the spacing and noted the spacing matched the hole-spacing on a diatonic flute. Open your eyes to see that also at the pic at Divje Babe. THAT's a measured and indisputable observation, unless you want to convince everyone reading this discussion that you are willfully blind as a bat. Or trying to supress a mathematical observational fact not your own POV's liking.
Next: You don't need the whole length of bone to see that. Nowell likely is wrong about the length. Three museum curators wrote in 1997 the original bone would have been "easily" long enough. Based on the width of the yearling's femur, they wrote, to wit:
  1. From: Boylan P., "Since [my letter] of 11 March, I managed to work on quite a few immature cave bear bones in the collections of the Zarodny (National) Museum in Prague and there's no problem about getting your required length [37cm] so far as I can see from various bones from the same region."
  2. From: treasure@CTCnet.Net Organization: Treasures of The Earth Ltd. "Thanks for the clarification [of me offering Jay the width dimension]. Yes, a juvenile bear femur could be 37cm or longer." --Jay (Treasures of The Earth Ltd.)
  3. From: Wm Nolen Reeder, wreeder@Traveller.COM "According to both our mammal curator and our director, the femur of a black bear cub (less than two years old) would easily be long enough. A two year old cub is about two thirds grown but still remains with the mother so therefore is still considered a cub." --Wm Reeder, Birmingham Zoo Webmaster.
The "key" here is that you cannot tell a simple, straightforward measurement observation from what you fear it may, or may not, imply regarding your OWN incorrect and biased reading, or super-imposed POV. The match-up could be evidence implying coincidence, not only implying a diatonic sequence. It's not for you to censor the fact of a match just because you don't like one of those implications.
Since you started the argument here with your wrong edit, then the rebutted argument goes here too. But I'll write whatever I damn please here if you provoke it by your POV-pushing edits. Greenwyk 06:30, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Presenting only one "observation" about the Divje Babe artifact is more POV than my edit acknowledging the dispute about it. Can we also write that there are only two complete holes and that it bears a great deal of carnivore damage? Anyone who wants to find out about the artifact can go to its article. We shouldn't drag the argument about it over to this article. - Rainwarrior 15:19, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Well you took out the observation of a match that indicated a possible tonal scale sequence. The article is about tonality, after all. I haven't put your edit back and doubt if I'll bother. It depends how many more POV edits you plan to do. The other observations you mention are not relevant to tonality -- only to the "is it a flute-or-not" dispute. But -- If you reverted my "possible early tonality" evidence, then mentioning that the object is disputed regarding even being anthropic in origin could be said too. Because the evidence of very early tonality may not stand if proof of non-human origins turns up. Bob F. 15:57, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Factual accuracy tag[edit]

This page is tagged at the very top with "The factual accuracy of this article is disputed." -- but having read the page and this talk page, I am not sure just what facts are disputed. Is it the whole page, or just parts? If just parts, could the tag be moved to the disputed sections, whatever they are? Pfly 08:04, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

I removed the tag. Hyacinth (talk) 22:40, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

Diatonic and chromatic[edit]

I have read through the article, and the discussion. It seems to me that many of the terms used here need defining. One that causes a great deal of trouble is "diatonic". Because of the serious uncertainties it has caused at several other Wikipedia articles, and in the broader literature, some of us thought that it and "chromatic" needed special coverage, and we have therefore started up a new article: Diatonic and chromatic. Why not have a look, and join the discussion? Be ready to have comfortable assumptions challenged! – Noetica♬♩Talk 22:06, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Tonality and Colonialism[edit]

Maybe this should wait until things get sorted out from previous talk page posts, but more contemporary, reputable musicological trends from McClary to Taylor (I'm reading his Beyond Exoticism now) relate the development of tonality and its heirarchies to European colonialization and self identification. While the old fogeys out there will scoff, it is now an accepted academic practice to discuss historical context in the arts, and I'm sure it can be presented in a non-biased manner. Any thoughts? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:28, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Apparently unnoticed vandalism a year ago[edit]

On 15 May 2007 the article was vandalised by deleting a whole section ( It seems that nobody noticed the incident, and the data hasn't been put back into the article. Someone with more insight to the article might want to check if the deleted part contains any relevant information. Liffey (talk) 21:08, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

So it wasn't vandalism then? Hyacinth (talk) 22:38, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

A Defence of the Pythagorean tradition[edit]

ESSAY by Sean McHugh 02Sean McHugh 02 (talk) 06:04, 13 April 2008 (UTC) REMOVED by Hyacinth (talk) 22:39, 13 April 2008 (UTC).

This talk page is for discussing improvements for the article. Hyacinth (talk) 22:39, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

Hi Hyacinth. Well there was some stuff in the essay that could well be used to improve the article, but I wasn't planning to take the time for that. I have a great deal of info on tonality and its relation with consonance and dissonance, and would like to see a more empirical rather than relativist cultural angle on why it's so important... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sean McHugh 02 (talkcontribs) 02:21, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

Modern or popular examples needed[edit]

Mention if e.g., if the David Bowie song TVC 15 has tonality, or is it just limited to classical music, etc. Jidanni (talk) 01:27, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Good general question. Hyacinth (talk) 23:15, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Confusing: Effect[edit]

What about that section is confusing? What needs explanation? Hyacinth (talk) 23:15, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

It is confusing because the section title seemingly has no relationship whatsoever to the content. To end the entire article with a section heading called "Effect" would seem to infer wrapping up the article and talking about the overall musical effect of tonality. As it is, the paragraph discusses a relatively arcane difference between harmonic and melodic tonality that probably doesn't merit a musical example or even its own section. In my opinion the subject of harmonic vs. melodic tonality should be presented in an earlier section in a more truncated, concise fashion, and the "Effect" section deleted completely. 5000fingers (talk) 15:28, 31 August 2008 (UTC)5000fingers

A layperson's point of view[edit]

I came to this article seeking to learn something about the concept of tonality. All I have learned is that I lack a solid enough grounding in music theory to separate fact from the heaped-on balderdash someone or someones has passed off as an 'article', when the only aim of this piece is to bury a music concept so far in its own jargon that it defies any description other than mystical.

Please work at making some of these concepts understandable either by way of example or extensive hyperlinking to reference material. As it stands, one learns nothing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:25, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

What specific ways should the article be improved in? What specific parts of the article should be improved? Hyacinth (talk) 09:13, 17 July 2008 (UTC)
No surprise, it looks like someone pasted their theory paper verbatim. I like how the History section is followed by what appears to be a very wikipedia-like article on Tonality, followed by THEORETICAL UNDERPINNINGS. I would seriously suggest moving both the History section, and the..... other section to something like Tonality/Verbum_Obscurum and clean up what's left while discussing what to do with all of this verbiage. --Blehfu (talk) 07:25, 23 July 2008 (UTC)
What sort of structure would you like? Hyacinth (talk) 01:15, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
Ive moved the History section later in the article. I think perhaps a separate article, History of tonality, might be in order. --Blehfu (talk) 01:43, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
I don't know if a separate article is needed. The current History section just needs to be tightened up considerably. This is not the New Grove! A few paragraphs at most will suffice. There is a lot of ambiguity here. And a lot of this material is redundant information that appears or should appear elsewhere, e.g. the material appearing in the History section that is really more about Theoretical Underpinnings or Terms. 5000fingers (talk) 15:55, 31 August 2008 (UTC)5000fingers
I'm not sure you could really write a succinct article on tonality unless you were only discussing the recent mediterranean + western history. (talk) 18:23, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Still a mess[edit]

I agree with the many comments that this article is just a mess, especially stylistically and organizationally. For instance, the section on Terms begins with a torturous sentence about Dahlhaus and the "characteristic schemata of tonal harmony," and then a few paragraphs later we get to the C major scale! I have less quibbling about the factual veracity of some of the entries than others who have posted here, but the way the information is presented is not very professional or clear. Such an important concept needs a better article. I've made a few minor edits to help clarify certain concepts and will continue doing so to help tighten things up a bit. But I think a more major revision is in order, something that presents the relevant information in a more concise, less rambling fashion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 5000fingers (talkcontribs) 15:09, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

What revisions do you suggest? Hyacinth (talk) 18:04, 31 August 2008 (UTC)
Well, I've already done some minor ones. No doubt due to the uneven way it was written and how it came about, the article comes across sort of like an undergraduate paper, and I think the whole thing ought to be re-envisioned from the standpoint of the layperson. As far as the more major revisions I would suggest starting with the more broader definitions of tonality, and work out to more specifics. I also would vastly edit down the History section, delete the oddly random "Effects" subsection and have its contents abbreviated and included in the Theoretical Underpinnings section. I would also remove discussions of theoretical issues in the history section. One of the main reasons this article comes across as so muddled is that nobody seemingly ever decided whether "history" meant the history of tonality (which I think it should be), or the history of tonal theory (which I think it should not be). Also, in the first sections of "Terms," the article already gives the theoretical underpinnings of the tonal system! So using the section title of Theoretical Underpinnings is misleading and confusing. What follows in History and Theoretical Underpinnings is actually a mish-mosh of the history of tonal practice and the history of tonal theory, and I think it all just needs to be completely re-worked with greater concision. (talk) 04:28, 1 September 2008 (UTC)5000fingers

I am a music theory PhD precandidate in a US university and would be glad to try my hand at some repairs. Much of what is contained is technically correct in that it accurately quotes the listed sources. However, it is not presented well or logically and does not reflect current thinking in the field. Not to mention that it seems to be written by an aficionado (a scholar would do a better job). Are there any thoughts on what people would like to see in terms of additional subject headings? For the record, I am not familiar with wikipedia editing, format, etc., but could provide solid content. Blap Splapf (talk) 02:58, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

The writing on which the article is based seems too confusing to begin with. I would second the proposal above - we need a concise set of headings under which to fashion an article which is clear and presents the information usefully, comprehensibly and in an appropriate order.

  • Introduction - Summary of term "Tonality"
  • Origins of Tonality (encompassing the current 'History and Theory' section)
  • Features of Tonal music (Characteristics and Features)
  • Theoretical Underpinnings

Andrew w munro (talk) 20:44, 23 February 2009 (UTC)andrew_w_munro

One problem is the inconsistent usage of "note" and "tone" to mean the unique individual pitches. Might I suggest using "note" exclusively to avoid ambiguity with both the article title and the technical term for a major second (two "semi-tones")? --Jubilee♫clipman 20:22, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

I would urge caution in this regard, but only because the dialect used in the article is American ("centre" is spelt "center", "-ize" endings occur instead of "-ise", etc.), where the relationship between the terms "note" and "tone" is somewhat different from UK usage. Depending on context, replacing "tone" with "note" might cause confusion.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:17, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
Let me be frank: Americans (often those of immigrant mainland European origin from the first half of the 20th century) have by-and-large produced the clearest, simplest, and most sophisticated theoretical (text)books on music over the past two generations. These texts have had an impact on professional music theorists and tertiary training throughout the English-speaking world. They typically use tone to indicate a pitch, and note to indicate a pitch-in-context, e.g. invested with rhythmic and textural identity, in a real passage of music. The distinction is worth making for all readers, from beginners to advanced musicians, I believe. Tony (talk) 03:50, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

Additional citations[edit]

Why, what, where, and how does this article need additional citations for verification? Hyacinth (talk) 20:27, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

I would say that top banner is out of date and could now be removed. The article is on the whole fairly well cited, and the sections and individual sentences that are exceptions are plainly marked.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:34, 6 June 2011 (UTC)


Why and where does this article need cleanup? How should this be done? Hyacinth (talk) 22:40, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Tag removed. Hyacinth (talk) 06:18, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Predominant vs. Subdominant[edit]

This article refers to the I,V,IV as tonic dominant and predominant. I changed it to subdominant. Jerome Kohl, a well respected Wikipedian, changed it back. I am quite sure however that the IV chord is frequently, if not usually, referred to as the subdominant or sub-dominant. I also believe that a predominant chord is any chord that resolves to the dominant (e.g. II,1V etc.) I believe the more specific term (subdominant) is preferable.

I believe the following articles support this opinion: Chord progression - Basics P2, Subdominant, Predominant.

Thanks in advance for corrections and comments. BobbyBoykin (talk) 15:32, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

The chord and scale degree are both correctly referred to as "subdominant". However, the context within which you changed the term has to do with chord function, not chord naming. Some theory books do use the term "subdominant" as a function name (which often cause confusion for beginners when a submediant or supertonic chord is referred to as having "subdominant" function), but others use "predominant", or "dominant preparation", which prevents confusing the chord's name with its function. There is, unfortunately, no commonly employed terminology (so far as I am aware) that similarly separates function and chord name for the tonic and dominant chords. It may be advisable to add a cautionary note about this (or perhaps to add ii and vi in brackets after IV), but there is some danger of making the explanation so complicated that the beginner will give up in exasperation.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:21, 3 May 2012 (UTC)


  • Rameau's work was introduced to Germany by Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg in 1757, and used Rameau's system to explain the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (Marpurg 1753–54).{{Vague|date=December 2010}}<!--If Marpurg only first introduced Rameau's theories in 1757, how can he already have used them to explain the music of Bach three to four years earlier? (Besides, the 1753–54 treatise is a handbook on fugue, not on harmonic practice.)-->

That's easy. Let's say I haven't yet introduced myself to you. I still know my own name and am able to write my signature. In the same way, if I haven't yet introduced some knowledge to Germany, I am still capable of knowing and using it. Hyacinth (talk) 04:27, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

  • The vocabulary of describing notes in relationship to the tonic note, and the use of harmonic progressions and cadences, became part of Bach's practice. Essential to this version of tonal theory are the chorale harmonizations of Bach, and the method by which a church melody is given a four part harmony by first assigning cadences, then creating a natural, or most direct, thoroughbass, and finally filling in the middle voices.{{Citation needed|date=December 2010}}<!--The implication here that Bach adopted and endorsed Rameau's theories is of course ludicrous, but perhaps the rest can be verified somehow.-->

So are we saying that Bach didn't describe notes in relation to the tonic, didn't use chord progressions, and didn't use cadences? Hyacinth (talk) 04:29, 14 November 2012 (UTC)


I've just removed this sentence from the opening caption: "This is the strongest cadence type, almost always found at the main formal articulative points" (Benjamin 2003, 284). It's patently untrue. Tony (talk) 13:02, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

Haven't a clue what this means: "the major–minor parallelism: minor v–i–VII–III equals major: iii–vi–V–I; or minor: III–VII–i–v equals major: I–V–vi–iii. The last of these progressions is characterized by "retrograde" harmonic motion." I've copy-edited the typography, but it's still a mystery. Tony (talk) 13:22, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

These scales are not tonal, so I've removed this paragraph, which is a needless complication so early in the article: "Other important scales include the blues scale, the whole tone scale, the pentatonic scale, and the chromatic scale. As these are not the major or minor diatonic scales, music written exclusively with them is not tonal by the definition above."

This paragraph is weird: "Triads are built primarily from notes of a diatonic scale, or secondarily from chromatic notes treated as variations or embellishments of the basic scale. The identity of the scale is important, as the size of the steps between notes are used to determine the system of chord relationships." Does such foggy complexity need to appear so early in the article? It's hard enough to explain to a wide readership how the system works just within a key; I suggest that this be done first. Tony (talk) 13:27, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

Your edits so far are exemplary: good work, though there is a much that could still be improved. Regarding your questions, it appears these all appear as quotations from reliable sources (including the one you removed on grounds that it is "patently untrue"). While keeping in mind that "the threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth", it does the reader no service at all to quote random sentences from reliable sources without any regard for their comprehensibility. Have you checked the context of the quotations from Dahlhaus that puzzle you, to see whether they could be better explained here? I shall have to look at the edit history to see the context from which you excised the quotation from Benjamin, but it looks as though it refers to the Perfect Authentic Cadence. If that is the case, why do you contend that it is "patently untrue" that such cadences are "almost always found at the main formal articulative points" of a tonal composition?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 03:03, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
Jerome, impressive pedigree I see on your user page! It's a question of balance, and balance right at the summary opening (including that caption at the top) is not served well when one ideology is presented as (the only) truth. I have to say that the British music examination establishment (powerfully and sub-professionaly represented by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) did enormous damage to our ability to understand harmony by elevating IV to fundamental level, along with the tonic–dominant polarity; the plagal cadence is similarly elevated, without proper explanation to learners, to the status of the perfect cadence. This infection spread throughout the English-speaking world during the 20th century. It deserves to be mentioned, but not to dominate the article at the top through exclusive treatment, whichever source has mouthed it. The modern textbooks such as Aldwell and Schachter, and Forte (regrettably too much to bite off for the suburban music-studio teacher, although ironically they present the basic system more simply) don't go along with this unexplained fog, but talk first and foremost about the V–I polarity, and then about pre-dominant triads (ii, IV, and vi, using the casing for the major mode). If IV is to be elevated to this special status, could there be proof of this from the musical literature? Certainly, later on in the article, the influence of IV in blues-influenced popular music could be treated as a particular type of tonality; but right at the top it just reproduces a fallacy that the tonal system quintessentially relies on I, IV and V, a holy trinity that might resonate with christian symbolism, but not with the acoustical and cultural facts. Tony (talk) 03:30, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
Now that I understand your objection is not to the characterization of perfect-authentic cadences, but to the inclusion of IV as part of the cadential formula, I am in perfect agreement with your position. I am uncertain whether Benjamin asserts that IV is a part of this cadence, but if he does not, putting that claim in conjunction with the example in question is at least misleading. You do not mention Schenker, who is the major influence behind both Forte and Aldwell-Schachter, and for the last half-century increasingly the dominant paradigm in the American academy. There is now the inevitable backlash, but I do not believe that this has gone so far as to restore IV to its former glory. Keep up the good work.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:50, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
Jerome, on the backlash to Schenker ... it's not surprising, since the analytical system claims to do much more than it ends up doing, I think. Nicholas Cooke (A Guide to Musical Analysis) resonates with this take; his account of the messiness of analysing the Tristan overture is marvellous! All the same, my view is that some of Schenker's fundamental observations have transformed our understanding of harmony and compositional technique; for example, prolongation seems obvious in retrospect, for both composer and listener.

But to the task at hand—this article. I wonder what you think about my urge to explain the emergence of tonality better. I'm going to look up Rosen's chapter on tonality in The Classical Style to see if it might be a useful source. Do you know of other good sources on this aspect? Tony (talk) 02:20, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

And then there is the backlash to the backlash to Schenker, and so on. I only meant to put some emphasis on the demotion of the subdominant, with which Schenker had "some issues". The explanation of the "emergence of tonality" could indeed be bette explained, but the topic is really two topics: the emergence of tonality in the musical literature, and the emergence of the concept of tonality in the history of music theory. I am not sure which of these is in more urgent need of care here. I had something to do with revising the part on the history of theory (though this is just about my least favourite period in the subject), when I first came across this article five years ago or so. I recall feeling hampered somewhat at the time by another editor who had some peculiar ideas about referencing (the artifacts are still there, in that editorial note about "sources" vs "references"). It seemed better to follow the path of least resistance and I did not put up as much of a fight as I might have done. As a result, the history of theory part is still awfully ragged. As for the history of the music literature itself, there is nothing at all about this in the current version, but a huge amount of literature out there. I'm not sure where I would start, but this aspect interests me much more than the early history of the theory of tonality. Which of these areas were you most concerned about?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 03:33, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

"Tonality functions "locally", in the mid-range"[edit]

This is very ambiguous and undefined. Example of the excessive indulgence of Wikipedia "writers" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:53, 20 January 2014 (UTC)


"in which each the root of each triad has a tonal function in relation to the tonic.."


Tonality in a broad sense[edit]

Although Fétis used it as a general term for a system of musical organization and spoke of types de tonalités rather than a single system, today the term is most often used to refer to major–minor tonality

In the New Grove "tonality" in the broad sense is mentioned as actual. This 'broad' tonality (in a Fétis sense) is (according to B.Hyer, the author of the article of this renown encyclopedia) applied to any music of any region (slendro, plainchant, raga etc.). Moreover, it is the 1st in a row of definitions given by Hyer. Just have a look. Olorulus (talk) 12:47, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

To be sure, but after his list of seven other usages (and Brian Hyer leaves out several dubious senses widely employed in the popular press), his sense h states: "Perhaps the most common use of the term, then, in either its noun or adjective forms, is to designate the arrangement of musical phenomena around a referential tonic in European music from about 1600 to about 1910", and he goes on to specify the major-minor tonal system. Sometimes, writers save the most important thing for last; when they do this (as in this case), it suggests the first thing in the list may in fact be the least important. Still, they should not be entirely ignored, nor perhaps (always supposing, of course, that reliable sources can be found) should be the informal senses of, for example, "music that I like" or "music without dissonance" or—to paraphrase the [Abbey#Crawley family|Dowager Countess of Grantham]—"where each musician knows what the others are playing".—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:55, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm curious how your treatment of the broad sense tonality as 'the least important' thing would correlate with the mentioning of the discussed meaning directly in the definition section of the 'Tonality' article (before the row begins) by Hyer:
One of the main conceptual categories in Western musical thought, the term most often refers to the orientation of melodies and harmonies towards a referential (or tonic) pitch class. In the broadest possible sense, however, it refers to systematic arrangements of pitch phenomena and relations between them. Olorulus (talk) 06:11, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
PS. I'm not inside the conversational usage of English-speaking musicology. Just wanted to be sure that the 'broadest meaning' which is positioned at the very top of the famous English-speaking dictionary, is really obsolete and 'the least important'. If not (the fact I cannot really evaluate being a non-native speaker), then this broad sense meaning should not be marked with caution just as 'Fétis usage', as the current WP article clearly implies. That's why my comments. Olorulus (talk) 06:28, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
The "broadest sense" of a term is not necessarily the most usual, and is almost always the least precise. In some cases, it may be best to regard the broadest sense as the primary or most-commonly understood one. In this case, however, I believe that this would be futile, since what you cite describes all music using pitches, whether there is a referential tonic or not—that is, so-called atonal music (by definition the absence of tonality) would also be included. I believe it is in this sense that Schoenberg objected to the term "atonal", which he claimed could apply only to music without tones. Of course, these alternative definitions ought to be included somewhere in the article (and their marginal or problematic aspects made clear), and perhaps even the polemical senses I mentioned above (as when a music reviewer really is saying, "music that I find repulsive but cannot be bothered to explain why"). Having reviewed the article in light of your comments, I see that these senses are scarcely mentioned, if at all. Let us see what we can do to rectify this situation.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:35, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
Thank you. I didn't want to interfere in serious editing because of limitations of my English. Such edits should be done by a native-speaker, this is my point.
As for your anecdotic 'sense' parallels above, I don't think they are relevant. The sense which used Choron/Fétis (as also other French 19-th c. theorists, btw) and then inherited in the English ('the broadest possible') 'tonality', exists (and quite actual) in both German and Russian theory, incorporated there, accordingly, in 'Tonart' (consider e.g. 'Kirchentonarten', the most influential 'Tonarten der klassischen Polyphonie' by B.Meier, 'griechische Tonarten' and many other Tonarten-instances outside "B-dur und b-moll") and (Russian) 'лад'. So the problem, as I see it, actually in fact that there is no one English word which would comprise both modal and tonal pitch organizations, that's why this dearth is partially filled up through (clumsy and confusing usage of) 'tonality' marked by Hyer as the term 'in the broadest sense'. Olorulus (talk) 07:50, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
  • And if such a wide definition is used, tonality becomes synonymous with music. I don't see that this is appropriate given the full range of sources, and I don't see the value for our readers. Tony (talk) 06:04, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
Music is not only the 'systematic arrangment of pitches' (Hyer). It also contains rhythm, form and many other things, which are not at all covered by 'tonality in the broadest sense'. Olorulus (talk) 08:56, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
I believe you will find that form, at least, can be argued as being primarily a creation of pitch relations in a composition (Heinrich Schenker took this view, for example). If all types of pitch relations are subsumed under the heading of 'tonality', then form can be also. Rhythm is another issue, of course, but there are theorists who have argued (e.g., Karlheinz Stockhausen, in "... Wie die Zeit vergeht&nbsp..." and "Die Einheit der musikalischen Zeit", and Bernd Alois Zimmermann in "Intervall und Zeit") that pitch and rhythm are merely different parts of the same acoustical continuum: namely, duration (i.e., musical time).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:57, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Once again, I insist, I cannot judge about the discussed usage, because I am not inside the English-speaking 'musicological' world. My view is just an external view of an observer. Look, this broad meaning is not in the 1980 'tonality' article of NGD 1980, and it appeared first in NGD 2001 (just compare two articles), as the German author was replaced by the American one (of course, Dahlhaus could not use this word 'in the broadest sense', because 'Tonart' and 'Tonalität' are not the same things in German! and there is no way to translate this crucal difference into English!). And later this 'broadest' meaning was reproduced in the fundamental 'Cambridge history of the Western music theory'. So I thought, the meaning we are discussing is not 'the least important' (as you implied), nor it is 'obsolete'. But again, it is up to your responsibility as a musicologist, who is inside, to decide, whether both NGD and Cambridge fundamental 'History' should be ignored as the sources of the 'least important things'. Olorulus (talk) 07:25, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Borrowed by Dahlhaus[edit]

Dahlhaus 1990,[page needed]

Carl Dahlhaus should be placed earlier in this listing. His famous book had been published in 1968, based on the Habilitationsschrift "Untersuchungen über die Entstehung der harmonischen Tonalität" which appeared even earlier (Kiel 1966). Also, the editorial request mark 'page needed' is evidently absurd to anyone who saw the work (where 'Tonalität' occurs on almost every page including the title of this most valuable book). Olorulus (talk) 08:29, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for the information. Certainly Dahlhaus should be mentioned before David Cope, though there is currently no indication in this article that Dahlhaus's book existed prior to 1990 (even knowing that he died in 1989, it might be assumed it was his last book, already in the press at the time of his demise). It was I who placed the "page needed" request, now some years ago, but I have never seen the book in question, and so could not know that Dahlhaus confirms on every single page of his book that the term was "The term tonalité originated with Alexandre-Étienne Choron (1810) and was borrowed by François-Joseph Fétis in 1840", and that tonality is "typified in the compositional formulae of the 16th [sic] and early 17th centuries". However, I shall have to see the book with my own eyes before I can accept that this astonishing fact is true, even for an obsessive-compulsive German musicologist.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:51, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I removed Dahlhaus from the authorities of 'borrowers', because he thought that tonalité (used by Choron and lots of other French theorists that time) had been 'coined' by Castil-Blaze. The valuable book of Dahlhaus 1968 (published in English after the author's death) is not at all the source of the dramatic problem 'who borrowed from whom'. Olorulus (talk) 07:39, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
The critical thing here, I think, is that according to your edit, Dahlhaus believed the term was not coined (or "originated", which is the same thing) until 1821, by Castil-Blaze—eleven years after the four other sources say Choron did it. This is a very curious discrepancy.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:09, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't think that this is really "critical". Dahlhaus represents in his article not a 'personal view', but a trivial view which dominated for decades. Just look around, check (first of all) Germans. But I don't insist on that (very persistent for years) view. You can delete it. It's mere nothing compared to the crucial issue: who was essential in the development of the tonality concept (and Choron was definitely not among such developers, well, he was not a scholar at all). Olorulus (talk) 08:10, 11 February 2014 (UTC)


First one: "Tonality functions "locally", in the mid-range"—what does that mean? Tony (talk) 10:51, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Second one, which I've partly fixed ... triads are the building blocks of the tonal system, not tones. I've removed two references to "the root of" at the opening. The pre-tonal church modes might be better described as built on tones, as opposed to triads. Tony (talk) 10:54, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

First one: That sentence mystifies me, as well. It sounds like someone is trying to make the distinction between the Schenkerian "foreground" and "middleground", but lacks the vocabulary. Even supposing that this is the intention, substituting the Schenkerian terminology would require explaining it first, and then there would have to be a lot of heavy shovel work repairing this badly misconstrued description.
Second one: Yes, good work, it is much better.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:15, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Theory of Fétis[edit]

Fétis considered tonalité moderne as "trans-tonic order" (having one established key, and allowing for modulation to other keys)

In fact, Fétis differentiated 3 phases (stages) of tonalité moderne: ordre transitonique was only the 'transitional stage' (Monteverdi); the later stages -- ordre pluritonique (Mozart, Rossini etc.) and ordre omnitonique (Berlioz, Wagner) -- also belong to the tonalité moderne, Generally, "Traité complet" represents the first in the history diachronic view of the Western tonality, this is important. Olorulus (talk) 08:45, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Sure; perhaps we need to sequester this kind of stuff into a section on the theoretical history of tonality. Tonality is a complicated topic already, and I fear that this article will become diffuse. Tony (talk) 09:07, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
The article presently has a separate section for this. Are you suggesting that it should be split off into an article of its own? To Olorulus's point: it is not strictly true that Fétis was the first to present a diachronic view of Western tonality, though it may be argued that he was the first to do so in a thorough manner. I just yesterday added a sentence on Choron, who discusses tonalité moderne as a diachronic process, with particular reference to Monteverdi as a starting point, and the Neapolitan School as its full crystallization. As a matter of fact, in other sections of Choron's essay he discusses the development of earlier tonalités, from the Ancient Greeks down to his own time, as well as making passing references to systems of tonal organization in non-European cultures.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:12, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Cristle Collins Judd[edit]

The term tonalité originated with Alexandre-Étienne Choron (1810) and was borrowed by François-Joseph Fétis in 1840 (Judd 1998a, 5)

Colleague, just have a look in the book! I hesitate that you read it, really. Prof. Judd never wrote about the fact you want to ascribe to her authority. She didn't even mention Choron (as your reference falsely implies). Olorulus (talk) 07:21, 13 February 2014 (UTC) PS. I uploaded p.5 from the discussed article by Judd; in case an editor might have a limited access to the book, she/he can check there. Olorulus (talk) 10:30, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

One tricky thing about references is that, in order to avoid clutter, they are conventionally collected together in groups at the end of a paragraph or sentence. This means that various claims contained in that paragraph may be separately confirmed by different sources. In the present case, the passage in question is not exclusively about Choron. It also mentions, for example, Fétis. Judd addresses Fétis, and confirms at least part of what is said about him in the preceding sentence (namely, that he used the term later, but did not originate it). Clear now?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:52, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
There are two different agruments which you mixed. First: 'Fétis was the most influential scholar, he developed the concept of tonalité though (parenthetically, in a note) he didn't coin the word as is'. This is what Prof. Judd said (see the Judd's article attached as PDF). Second: 'Fétis has borrowed the term tonalité from Choron'. This is what implies your edit. This is incorrect. Olorulus (talk) 05:17, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Here and in the next thread I find myself agreeing with Jerome. Olorulus, en.WP tends to be quite fussy about how sources are treated. Tony (talk) 10:28, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, it is up to you to leave it as is. It seems to me that a reader's profit should be higher of all other arguments. I just wanted not to confuse a reader who would insert Prof. Judd in a row of other scholars directly accusing Fétis of a miserable plagiate. The thing she really never did. Olorulus (talk) 05:43, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
PS. Btw, I really doubt that Réti also wrote about 'Fétis borrowing from Choron', he is not just the scholar of such 'format'. Unfortunately I can't get access to the original book of him so far, but I'll check it definitely. Olorulus (talk) 05:52, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

Request for confirming 'Tonart' / 'Tonalität' different meanings[edit]

I didn't understant the request for 'better source for claim' of different meanings of German 'Tonart' and 'Tonalität'. Also, what did you mean with your request of Reichert's exact page? The title of Reichert's article itself plainly implies the difference of terms. In short: 'Tonart' is used for all possible 'systematic arrangements of pitches', while 'Tonalität' is used mainly as synonym for 'Dur-Moll-Tonalität' (or Dalhaus' 'harmonische Tonalität'). Do you really want me to prove this? May I ask you, for the start, to read 'Tonart' and 'Tonalität' in German WP for the further (and maybe more competent) discussion of the point you requested. Olorulus (talk) 07:45, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

Forgive me, but my German is actually reasonably good. I can assure you that the title of Reichert's article, "Tonart und Tonalität in der älteren Musik", though certainly problematic to render into English, cannot be translated as "All Possible 'Systematic Arrangements of Pitches', and 'Major/Minor Tonality' in Old Music". The claim this article is being used to support is that "two different German words "Tonart" and "Tonalität" have been translated as "tonality" although they are not the same words in German". Where exactly does Reichert explain (1) that they are different (admittedly, this is self-evident), but, more importantly, (2) what that difference is? He certainly does not do so in his title.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:01, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
My edit in WP didn't imply that the title of Reichert's title should be translated either as 'All Possible Systematic Arrangements of Pitches' or as 'Major/Minor Tonality in Early Music'. The Reichert's article is simply one clear example of miriads of other German articles which use 'Tonalität' and 'Tonart' differently. As I already said (see above), 'Tonart' is applied to lots of pitch systems ('system' means systematic arrangement, logical organisation of pitches and their interrelations in the composition of music) as well as to the major-minor tonality (I gave examples of such usage above but you ignored them), while 'Tonalität' is principally applied to the major-minor tonality (but not only to this kind of tonality, see Schönberg's handbook for other usages). In English there is no way to render this semantic difference. The word 'Tonart' is often translated as 'tonality' (see Power's most influential 'Mode' article and lots of other instances) in a 'broad sense' which is fixed at the very first paragraph of the encyclopedic article 'Tonality' by Hyer (in 2001 and again, with minor but essential edits, in the authoritative 'Cambridge History...', 2002). If you understand this, then, please, edit my text, just do me a favour (I asked you about it 100 times before), because English is not my native language, so you would render the text certainly in the manner, that no one reader would ever imply that German 'Tonart und Tonalität in der älteren Musik' I tend to translate as 'All possible systematic arrangement of pitches' (as you might understand it). Olorulus (talk) 05:33, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
All of this is perfectly true, of course. It is not a matter of correctly rendering it in English ("pitch system" is a perfectly reasonable translation of Tonart, for example—there is nothing in your translation to correct). Rather, it is a question of providing a source that verifies all of this. Otherwise, it is just your interpretation, or mine. This is Original Research.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 07:05, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for your edits of my modest contribution. But... there is no one 'source, that verifies all of this'. To do so, we should devote much more space in the article to exemplification of German noun 'Tonart' vs. English 'Mode/Tonality' fork, e.g., by giving alternative English translations (sometimes 'mode', sometimes 'tonality') of German primary and secondary sources, side by side. The same is true for adjective 'tonal': I mean, 'Tonartentyp' is sometimes translated as 'modal type', sometimes as 'tonal type'. So... please consider the fact that such 'verifications' would make the material of 'Tonality' article complicated for an average reader of WP and would seriously (due to citations) extend its size. Do you really want this? Olorulus (talk) 05:36, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
This is precisely the point. In English, as in the parallel German and French examples, the word "tonal" refers back to the concept of "tone". As a result, it becomes necessary to take into account the fact that such expressions as "tonal relation" may refer in this context simply to the acoustical relationship of (for example) the 23rd to the 11th overtones of a common fundamental. When we move from the relative precision of such arithmetic relationships to the less precise realm of mere language … well, you must see what I mean. "Tonality" at this point becomes meaningless. I do not think that the purpose of an article like this is to explain to the reader that the term is in fact meaningless.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 06:20, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
No no, the point which I touched has nothing to do with acoustical/arithmetical meanings of 'tone'. The problem which is not a bit 'phanthom' nor 'meaningless' and widely practiced in the English-speaking musicology is what Sarah Fuller clearly defined in the Judd's collection of articles 1998: "In English, the adjective 'tonal' carries weighly associations of hierarchy in which one pitch or sonority dominates over others and controls scale configuration or matrices of relationships" (see p.61). In German, however, 'Tonartentyp' (which is rendered often as 'tonal type') doesn't necessarily contain this 'hierarchic' connotation. This is my point. And this is not to exemplify in an WP article with one source. Olorulus (talk) 08:23, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
You are certainly wrong if you believe that the word "tonal" in English carries only an association of hierarchy. Certainly it can (as your citation from Fuller asserts), but whether or not this association is intended depends on context. The expression "tonal relation" is a good example since it is often used to describe the relationships amongst notes in a twelve-tone row, or amongst notes in an atonal musical context generally. As for translating the German Tonart, this is indeed problematic. One alternative English translation, particularly used in discussions of modal theory, is "melody type".—Jerome Kohl (talk) 23:52, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
Another example to consider is the influential book of Hermelink's 'Dispositiones modorum. Tonarten...', the matter of which is clearly polyphonic incarnation of modus (this should be English mode, isn't it?). Now consider that Powers (and many his successors) render 'Tonartentyp' as tonal [type] meaning combination of uncorrelated modal types and tonal categories in an early '16th century tonality'. You cannot ignore this trend. I don't really think that this meaning is really marginal. To my view, on the contrary, it becomes more and more popular in the English-speaking musicology. Olorulus (talk) 07:36, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
PS. Certainly I heard 'tonal relation' word combination. But I'm not sure that 'tonal type', 'tonal coherence', 'tonal structure' -- terms widely represented in modern English-speaking literature -- are in the same 'epistemological' row where 'tonal relations' reside. Olorulus (talk) 07:50, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
This is all well and good, but aren't we losing sight of something rather important here? Is this article really meant to be explaining developments and debates in musicology, or is it meant to explain the basics of what tonality (and not "tonal" this and "tonal" that) actually is supposed to be? Consider the poor innocent reader who arrives at this article because he hopes to learn what the term means, and instead finds himself caught up in a swirling storm of terminological distinctions and disagreements.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:21, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
You are right. That's why I placed 'my' section at the very bottom of the article, for those curious readers who are interested not only in the music of the 'common-practice era'. 06:09, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
PS. Btw, 'tonal relations' is a translation of Tonbeziehungen, while 'tonal type' is from Tonartentyp (there is no 'Tontyp'). Do you see the difference? Olorulus (talk) 06:11, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
I would have to be either blind or ignorant of German not to see the difference. However, it is important to realize that in English the expression "tonal relations" is not used exclusively for translating German. This can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings about the meaning of the English adjective "tonal", which need not have anything to do with "tonality". Do you not see the difference?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 07:31, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
'Tonal relations' was your example, not mine. This is obviously not from the 'epistemological row' shown above in this Talk (btw, you can add to word combinations 'tonal markers' and 'tonal focus' widely used by musicologists studying 'extended' tonality), nor it belongs to the context of the article 'Tonality', nor to the prevailed meaning of an adjective 'tonal' which is described by a recognized scholar of the early music, Prof. Fuller (see her citation above). But if you find the context of the discussed section still unclear, please, add your 'tonal relations' and explain it in your native language, to avoid confusing. You would do it definitely better than I can. Olorulus (talk) 08:46, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Tonalité antique by Choron[edit]

According to Choron, this pattern, which he called tonalité moderne, distinguished modern music's harmonic organization from that of earlier [pre 17th century] music, including "tonalité des Grecs" (ancient Greek modes) and "tonalité ecclésiastique" (plainchant), which Choron generally called tonalité antique (Brown 2005, xiii; Choron 1810, xxxvii–xl; Hyer 2001).

On the page xiii of Brown 2005 there is nothing about Choron's generalization of early tonal types as tonalité antique. I also didn't find this term in the (voluminous) Choron's preface. For those who added this edit, may I ask for a precise page of Choron's article with the tonalité antique. Olorulus (talk) 06:29, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

For the record, what Brown says on his p. xiii is that the word "tonalité" was "First coined by Alexandre-Étienne Choron in his 'Sommaire de l’histoire de la musique' (1810), it was popularized by François-Joseph Fétis in the 1830s and 1840s". This is from the beginning of the paragraph in question, and I have now moved the citation there, and duplicated it again in the following paragraph, where it inhibits the readability of both sentences. This is intended as a temporary illustration of why we do not place citations at each and every word they support in a paragraph, but rather collect them together at the end. If you have a complaint that none of the citations (including the one by Choron himself) support the claim that he uses the term "tonalité antique", then please use {{Cn}} or {{Failed verification}}, with an editorial note explaining what requires verification. It is not acceptable to delete a citation simply because it does not verify everything in a paragraph.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 07:10, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for your edits. As I saw the reference, I tried to locate the 'tonalité antique' by Brown, Choron and Hyer (to whom the references clearly pointed). This was immediate behaviour of an interested reader who would like just to trace genesis of some scholar thought or a word (in this case, there is an interesting term which reveals an attempt of generalization of pitch systems' history). Olorulus (talk) 10:01, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
As a matter of fact, it is Hyer who attributes the expression 'tonalité antique' to Choron, but I thought it best to delete it, since it does not actually occur in the French source (perhaps it is found in the 1825 English translation, but I do not have access to it).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:57, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Central Triad[edit]

Define central triad. Is it the same as the tonic triad?

Central Triad[edit]

Define central triad. Is it the same as the tonic triad? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:7:8500:982:BD88:CCEF:1D4:9744 (talk) 02:20, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

"The tonal system prevalent in the common-practice period is often known as major-minor tonality, in which each triad has a tonal function in relation to the tonic triad and with other triads in the key."

The term tonal function is redundant. It refers to the tonalsyatem. Too many hands in the kitchen on Wikipedia trying to show off their writing skills. It ends up to be ambiguous and wordy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:7:8500:982:BD88:CCEF:1D4:9744 (talk) 02:27, 14 May 2014 (UTC)