tonation

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tonation

Post by chauncey » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:34 am

Hello all. After a night of drinking my brother in law used the word "tonation" in a sentence. I told him I think he may have made up the word. After searching several at home dictionaries and merriam-webster.com I could not find the word. I sent out a group email with my findings along with a note for him to pay me the $40.00 he owed me for losing the bet. He responded with allwords.com and wiktionary.com and the definition -the tonal properties of a sound-. When I look the word up on the websites I don't see any orgins of the word. It just looks like someone made it up. Can someone help me? Are these legitimate websites? Am I crazy? Will the world end in 2012?
Thanks
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Re: tonation

Post by chauncey » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:24 am

I guess I should just simplify this to.. is this a word and if so what's the orgin?
Thanks
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Re: tonation

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:32 am

I looked up the word on the OneLook metadictionary site (see link in my signature text) and only obtained one hit, namely for Wiktionary. The Allwords site looks like an amateur enterprise to me, but it is hard to say for sure because the site gives no information about its origins, its supporting organization (if any), or the resources that it has drawn on to create its dictionary look-up tool.

I'm with you -- the evidence suggests that 'tonation' is not a standard word, at least not in the sense your brother-in-law mentioned. One or two hits on dictionary websites of doubtful reliability is not enough to demonstrate an established usage.

A few hits on Google suggest that the word may have a chemistry-related connotation; but what exactly that might be, and the degree to which it is a standard chemical term, I cannot say.

Your BIL is probably conflating 'tonality' and 'intonation'.
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Re: tonation

Post by trolley » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:43 am

...or it's that seemingly logical idea that if you can detonate something and create a detonation, surely you must be able to tonate something and have a tonation.
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Re: tonation

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Jan 29, 2010 8:21 am

Now why didn't I think of that? :-D
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Re: tonation

Post by zmjezhd » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:43 pm

I've only seen it in a linguistics context when talking about tone in languages such as Chinese (or to a limited extent in Japanese).
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Re: tonation

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:52 am

Chauncey et al. Sure sounded to me like someone had just dropped the first syllable of the word INTONATION, saving a massive two letters. After doing some research, however, I found that TONATION is a legit word (in terms of usage by respectable folks, if not by dictionaries – see quotes below). And it actually predates its longer and younger buddy with regard to tone – if not with exactly the same meaning.

As mentioned above, TONATION is mostly a sound quality – speech and musical – term. I also found some examples of its use in reference to color, fragrance, . . . chemistry).

The OED (see below) describes TONATION as being “obsolete to rare,” as they define it, and provides one quote. I don’t think it’s going to make the word ‘hit parade’ any time soon, but its long and continued existence does show that this tone word, which has been around from at least the 18th century (see 1728 quote below), is not in danger of imminent demise.

I can't say exactly when its present meaning, which seems to be very close to that of INTONATION, was acquired, but I did find 19th-century examples (see tonation quotes below).

OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY

TONATION (Obsolete to rare): The action of toning or producing musical tones; the tones or notes so produced. [from ‘tone’ noun or verb + ‘-ation’]
<1728 “To observe the various tonations, and reduce them to a certain order, or scale.”—Memoirs of Musick (1846) by R. North, page 13>
INTONATION [[1776 in this sense]]: The utterance or production (by the voice, or an instrument, etc.) of musical tones: in reference to manner or style, especially to exactitude of pitch or relation to the key or harmony. [noun of action from medieval Latin intonāre to ‘intone’]
<1776 14 “The Organ . . .has it no imperfections? Yes. It wants expression and a more perfect intonation.”—A General History of Music by C. Burney, I. Preface, page 14>

<1845 “She has a beautiful voice—neither strong nor weak, but very pure and good in the intonation.”—The Life of Mozart by E. Holmes, page 104>

1874 “A most extraordinary soprano. . .and true to the least shade in intonation.”—Sketches in Italy and Greece (1898) by J. A. Symonds, xiv. page 294>

Here are two definitions for INTONATION from the Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, which, along with the above OED definition strike me as covering how TONATION is mostly used in my list of quotes (see below):

INTONATION:

1) The pattern or melody of pitch changes in connected speech, especially the pitch pattern of a sentence, which distinguishes kinds of sentences or speakers of different language cultures.

2) The manner of producing musical tones, specifically the relation in pitch of tones to their key or harmony.

The following TONATION quotes are from various archived sources:
<1804 “The King. I understand: the tonation of our Silesians [[inhabitants of a region of central Europe – mainly in SW Poland and the N Czech Republic:]]: you should endeavour, however, to read your own productions [[plays]], if you wish that they should not lose a great deal of their merit. [Conversation between the King of Prussia and Christian Gellert, Professor or Philosophy at Leipic; extracted from a letter, dated Leipsic, January 27, 1761], in The Polyanthea by C. H. Wilson, page 106>

<1889 “This represents the proper tonation of the word, though in speaking the tonations appear to be very latent.”—The Journal of the Manchester Geographical Society, Volume 5, page 289>

<1914 “The tonation wherein the words were spoken had a very curious influence on me . . .”— Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 16, page 401>

<1935 “. . . as in voice, the tendency toward definite tonation is manifest.”—The meaning and Teaching of Music by Will Earhart, page 165>

<1958 “From the pedagogical point of view, however, one may have wished that the author had followed Kindaichi’s way of listing the types of tonation. For words of four syllables, five patterns of accent are possible . . . ”—Monumenta Nipponica by Willem A. Grootaers, Vol. 14, No. 3/4 (October 1958 - January 1959), page 449, published by Sophia University (Tokyo)>

<1977 “Once the instrument is mastered, young people should go to a teacher for tonation.”—Pittsburgh Press (Pennsylvania), 30 June, page 19>

<1994 “ . . . to play with distinctive individual timbre, a trait some New Orleans musician labeled tonation.”—Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1, Selected Papers from the 1993 National Conference on Black Music Research (Spring), page 27>

<1998 “Because of her musical background, she will adapt more quickly than a non-musician, but if she wants to play the flute with good technique and tonation, she must practice the flute.”—Chicago Sun-Times, 6 July>

<2000 “Her diction, poise and tonation were comparable to professionals on Broadway.”—New York Amsterdam News, 31 May>

<2002 “I remember my mother helping me practice at home, showing me how to enact the story in my tonation and gestures.”—The Oral History Review, 22 June>

<2005 “When the voices align in perfect tonation a fifth sound is created. It's a note that is heard but not sung.”—Miami Herald (Florida), 3 February>

<2009 “Nigeria: Commissioner's Wife, Friend Kidnapped in Ondo: . . . based on the description of the tonation of the abductors, they are not likely to be from the state.”—AllAfrica.com, 16 June>
And then, of course, to add even further to the excitement, there is TONATION and INTONATION’s relative, intonational, which went on to find fame and fortune as an eponym for the Intonational House of Pancakes! (>:)
______________________

Ken G – January 29, 2010
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Re: tonation

Post by Shaxspar » Sat Oct 12, 2013 4:30 am

Tonation is a word musicians know, for it has raised questions since Pythagoras. Basically it is an enormous series of what we might today call nuances. To give example, whole tones have 9 commas, semi-tones have either 5 or 4. Equal Temperament is convenient but incorrect and has accustomed the ear to sloppy and non-expressive tuning to accommodate keyboard instruments so that that they try to harmonize in all keys. Except ET does not harmonize at all, and most of the magic of a composer's sense of intervals depends for example how he hears and writes HIS B-flat or A-sharp. When you consider that most of the music up to and including Mozart used very complex tuning methods, this all does make a great difference. There are a multitude of books which fight about how instruments should be tuned, and the great principal test of performance is a string ensemble, joined perhaps by a sliding instrument like a trombone. There have been instruments built to accommodate 90+ tones in a single octave. It all depends on what the real key of the passage is, what placement that note has in that unique key, with what other notes is it harmonizing in the ensemble, and whether flats or sharps are noted. Flats are slightly higher than sharps — 5 to 4 commas.

For example, the Guarneri Quartet is fanatical on tonation. Other groups don't even try, and cannot hear the difference! It was over an error of tonation in the midst of a symphony that Toscanini had his most colorful explosion.

Among musicians, performers, and musicologists, tonation must be agreed and instruments played accordingly. A wonderful, readable and provocative little book by Ross Duffin called "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and why you should care)," published in 2007 by Norton should clarify.
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Re: tonation

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Oct 12, 2013 5:45 am

All this evidence now makes me consider that Chauncey has lost his $40 bet.
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Re: tonation

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:50 am

Terrible news for him. I think his brother-in-law should send the $40 to Shaxspar for his excellent work.

'[T]he Guarneri Quartet is fanatical on tonation. Other groups don't even try . . .' . . . marvellous stuff. I haven't even one recording - I'll prioritise them third to Herb Alpert & Joshua Bell.

At least the world didn't end in 2012.
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