Polytonality

(redirected from polytonal)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to polytonal: Bitonality

Polytonality

 

in music, the simultaneous use of different tonalities or keys. Bitonality—the use of two different tonalities —is the most common type of polytonality.

In practice, two monotonal lines with independent functional systems and cadences are rarely combined. As a rule, polytonality means the simultaneous use only of the chords of different tonalities. The classic example, the “Petrushka chord” in Stravinsky’s ballet Petrushka, combines the tonic of C major and that of F sharp major. Like other chords of this type, the Petrushka chord is strongly dissonant and dramatic. It is used as the “leading harmony” with which Petrushka is identified. Polytonality, one of the elements of the contemporary modal-harmonic system, has been widely used by D. Milhaud, B. Bartok, and other 20th-century composers.

IU. N. KHOLOPOV

References in periodicals archive ?
Four calls (Bitonal Whistle, High-frequency Trill, Answer-to-Chick, Polytonal Whistle) have specialized function(s), and the remaining calls have unknown function(s) but share a common feature: they are rarely used alone, and mostly in combination with other calls, particularly with Kurlee and Gallop calls.
The highlight of chapter 6, "Polytonality, Counterpoint, and Instrumentation," is Kelly's emphasis on the often-overlooked composer Charles Koechlin, whom she credits with inspiring Milhaud to grant instrumentation a crucial role in the polytonal juxtaposition of horizontal lines.
The Presto second movement is a light, atmospheric scherzo descended from Felix Mendelssohn, and the polytonal passage-work in varying subdivisions presents a significant technical challenge.
Falla's so-called "theory of resonance--harmonic development through the derivation and juxtaposition of harmonic aggregates called "superpositions"--was not only applied by Rodolfo in his polytonal phase, but blatantly assumed a prominent position in some of his dodecaphonic writing when he combined bitonality with a liberal usage of the twelve-tone technique.
In fact, the cross-pollination that our musical arts have been heir to during the last decade or so has made for considerable excitement, especially when coupled with a new and more relaxed climate that has broken down hard-and-fast barriers between such previously unbridgeable forms as "serious," "entertainment," "folk/ethnic," and "theater" music, early and electronically altered music, and the various guises of tonal, polytonal, microtonal, and nontonal music.
Mawer discusses Milhaud's reputation as a polytonal composer, arguing that polytonality is a theoretical impossibility in Schenkerian terms.