AskDefine | Define tonal

Dictionary Definition

tonal adj
1 employing variations in pitch to distinguish meanings of otherwise similar words; "Chinese is a tonal language" [syn: tonic]
2 having tonality; i.e. tones and chords organized in relation to one tone such as a keynote or tonic [ant: atonal]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. of, or related to tones or tonality
  2. employing tones that have a predictable relationship to some tonic
  3. employing differences in pitch to distinguish differences in the meaning of otherwise similar words


Related terms

Extensive Definition

Tonal may refer to:
  • Tonal (mythology), a concept appearing in the belief systems and traditions of Mesoamerican cultures, involving a spiritual link between a person and an animal
  • tonal language, a classification of languages where some combination of high-low pitch has a phonemic distinction
  • tonality, a system of writing music involving the relationship of pitch to some centered key

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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