A music does not have a central tone or tonal center

"Atonality" is a musical style characterized by the absence of traditional tonal systems, relying instead on non-tonal scales and harmonic structures. In atonal music, there is no specific note serving as the center of the music, and it does not adhere to conventional tonal progressions.

Atonality emerged in the early 20th century as a revolutionary concept in music, introducing a new way of thinking about sound and harmonic structure. Unlike traditional tonal music, where compositions are typically based on specific scales or keys, atonal music is primarily characterized by the lack of a clear tonal center. This means that music no longer relies on conventional harmonic progressions, allowing for greater flexibility in the selection and arrangement of notes.

In atonal music, relationships between notes can become more intricate, and experimentation and innovation are more pronounced. Chords may not have traditional harmonic functions, and scales may not follow familiar patterns, resulting in unique and non-traditional musical effects. Composers often employ atonality to convey emotions, concepts, and abstract ideas, unbound by the constraints of traditional tonality.

While atonal music can sometimes sound complex, it can also offer captivating and intellectually stimulating musical experiences. Many composers of the 20th century, such as Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern, incorporated elements of atonality in their works.

Example of Atonality

Schoenberg: Suite for Piano, Op.25 (Boffard)