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  • William Drabkin


A term coined by Rudolph Réti (in Tonality, Atonality, Pantonality, London, 1958) to explain the continued extension of tonal language in the late 19th century as it had been developed by Wagner, Debussy and others. This harmonic extension had taken some music beyond the point at which it could be said to be in a single key, or to waver among or shift in and out of a number of clearly discernible key centres, without falling into categories defined as bitonal or polytonal (presenting two or more keys simultaneously), or strictly non-tonal or 12-note serial (as in Schoenberg and Webern). Put more positively, pantonality is characterized chiefly by the notion of ‘movable tonics’; that is, it recognizes and makes use of tonal relationships in intervals, melodic figures and chord progressions without defining, or even implying, a key centre in any large-scale sense. It may thus be applied to much of the music of Bartók and Berg, and of Stravinsky and Hindemith up to about ...

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