"Tonal Music" refers to a type of musical composition that is based on a specific tonal center or key. It is characterized by the organization of musical elements, such as melodies and harmonies, around a central note (tonic) and its associated scale. Tonal music developed during the Baroque period and became the dominant musical style throughout the Classical, and Romantic periods.
Tonal music revolves around the concept of a tonal center, which serves as a point of stability and reference throughout the composition. This tonal center is typically established by a tonic chord, consisting of the tonic note and its related harmonies. The choice of key signature determines the tonal center and the specific arrangement of sharps or flats within a piece of music.
In tonal music, melodies and harmonies are organized around the tonic note and its associated scale, often following certain harmonic progressions and rules. Commonly used scales include major and minor scales, which provide a framework for creating melodies and harmonies that evoke different emotions and moods.
Chords in tonal music are typically built on the notes of the chosen scale, and their relationships contribute to the sense of tension and resolution that characterizes tonal music. Tonal music often employs harmonic progressions that lead to a temporary departure from the tonic, creating tension, and then return to the tonic for a satisfying resolution.
Tonal music played a significant role in shaping Western classical music and many other genres influenced by it. It provided a structured framework for composers to create melodies, harmonies, and musical forms that were both expressive and coherent. Although tonal music remains an important aspect of the musical tradition, other approaches like atonality and modal music have also gained prominence in the modern era.