(musth 212) Implied Tonality

Just a quick review of what it takes to establish a tonality, compared to how a composer implies a tonality.

Tonality is established most strongly through harmonic cadential movement from dominant to tonic. Other aspects can contribute to the establishment of a tonal center, including melodic cadences and the use of functional harmony belonging to a single tonal center.

Composers can imply a tonal center through unresolved dominant harmonies – think Wagner’s Prelude to Tristan and Isolde that you studied at the end of last semester.

Composers can also imply secondary tonal centers in the same manner, with unresolved secondary dominants within phrases.

Other ways to weaken the tonal center can be through the use of the tonic harmony in inversion rather than root position, and also the use of non-functional harmony.


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