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Part II
Combinations of Materials to
Create Tonality, Scales, Key
Signatures, Intervals, and Triads
Chapter Six
Introduction to the Tonal Center
Tonal Center (Tonality)
Organized in scales, with key signatures that
show immediately what tonal materials
can be expected in a piece of music and
placed together simultaneously to produce
intervals or chords
Three or more pitches sounded
A triad is a three note chord whose
members are three notes apart.
The tonic, or note that serves as a tonal center,
exercises a strong pull on the other tones used
with it.
Moving away from the tonic produces a
somewhat restless feeling, whereas arrival at the
tonal center gives a sense of relaxation and
The organization of music around a tonal center
is called tonality.
Scales and Tonality
The notes that are used with any given
tone to create the feeling that is the tonal
center must be chosen with care. When
these tones are arranged in alphabetical
order within the octave of the tonal
center, the result is a scale. The tonal
center (tonic) is always the first and last
note of the scale in the well-known
modern scales, major and minor.
Can Tonality Be Avoided?
Some music of the twentieth century avoids
creating the feeling of a tonal center by using all
the twelve chromatic tones in a prearranged
order that does not lay particular emphasis on
any one pitch in the composition as a whole.
This method of composing is based on a twelvetone row rather than on a scale.
Music that avoids the feelings of a tonal center
by this means or by any other means is said to
be atonal. Most electronic music does not use a
tonal center.