Tonality Since 1950 / Tonalität seit 1950

Humboldt University Berlin, Germany

For music of the 20th century “tonality” for a long time seemed an outdated musical category marked with the blemish of the obsolete or even the reactionary. However, over the last few decades a change has been underway, reflected both in contemporary composition and in the musicological and music theory discourse – one which highlights a new openness to the phenomenon. This change in awareness is the point of departure for an international research project at Berlin’s Humboldt University that examines the category of tonality in the 20th century in terms of its theoretical, compositional and culture-historical implications.

The examination of the phenomenon of tonality in the second half of the 20th century and early 21st century kicked off in May 2014 with the two-day international conference “Tonality since 1950” organized by Basel University that is now to lead to an English-language publication supported by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation appearing at the end of 2015 from publishing house Steiner Verlag Stuttgart.

The key aim of this project is to highlight how music theory and compositional concepts, cultural contexts, traditions and mentalities – as well as an new openness toward different types of music in the forming of new (harmonious or tonal) musical languages – have all worked together to impact thought on tonality.


December 2015
Steiner Verlag Stuttgart, Germany


Further Information: