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Timbre

From Wikipedia, Chace Audio

The American Standards Association defines timbre as, “That attribute of sensation in terms of which a listener can judge that two sounds having the same loudness and pitch are dissimilar.” Timbre is a tonal quality that is often referred to as the “color” of a sound. It is due to the presence of, and dynamic relationship between, the different harmonics heard in a particular sound.

For example, a tone heard at a frequency of 440Hz, (commonly known as the tone “A” above middle “C” on a piano), can sound differently when played by different instruments. A clarinet sounding at 440Hz has a mellow, round sound as compared to a distorted electric guitar playing the same note. This is due to the numerous and loud harmonics accompanying the distorted electric guitar sound. In fact, the more harmonics that are present in a tone, the closer it will get to sounding like “noise” itself.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License found at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html . It uses material from the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timbre .

Thank goodness this nice man in a tuxedo had a chamber ensemble in back of him to help explain the properties of tonal quality - otherwise known as timbre.

Video clip courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Rick Chace Foundation from A Century of Sound ©2007. All rights reserved.

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SOUND THEORY