The concept of tonality came into being during the Renaissance and was established during the Baroque period. It is related to the use of major and minor scales.

When a piece is built on a major or minor scale, the tonic of this scale becomes the tonal center. The piece is based on this note: the piece is in the tonality or key related to this scale. For instance, if the scale is a major scale of D, the key is D major.

In the musical pieces written during the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic period, key is meant as the main key. However, numerous modulations (momentary changes of keys) occur throughout the piece.

Chords and, in particular, chords of the dominant seventh, and harmony help define tonality and modulation processes.


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José Rodríguez Alvira.