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What is a tonal plan? As I understand it, it's a set of notes around which the melody is formed. Or does it mean changes of tonality?

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This is what I was taught and have used regarding Tonal Plans:

A ****Tonal Plan**** is a framework in which you consciously decide specific tonalities for sections of a given composition.

For example:

Here's a really straight-forward tonal plan that follows the typical conventions of sonata-allegro form:

  • Exposition Theme 1: C
  • Exposition Theme 2: G
  • Development: Am
  • Recapitulation Theme 1: C
  • Recapitulation Theme 2: C

By mapping out your tonalities ahead of time, you can construct the music to go exactly where you want (or deceive the listener!) instead of reacting to what's being written during the compositional process.

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