Tone, Musical

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tone, Musical


a tone with a basic pitch ranging from C three octaves below middle C to the C or D of the fifth octave (from 16 to 4,000–4,500 cycles per sec). Its loudness may not exceed the pain threshhold.

Musical tones are quite varied in duration and timbre. They are organized into a musical system: each octave usually has only 12 tones, each a semitone apart. The dynamic markings constitute the scale of loudness (pianissimo, piano, mezzopiano, mezzoforte, forte, fortissimo) that does not have absolute meaning. In the most widespread system of rhythmic duration, sounds are in a 1:2 relationship (quarter notes being half as long as half notes and half notes half as long as whole notes). The timbre of a sound is determined primarily by its overtones and the method that produces the sound (voice or instrument). In music many timbres and combinations of timbres are employed.


Muzykal’naia akustika, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1954.
Mutli, A. F. “Zvuk i slukh.” In the collection Voprosy muzykoznaniia, vol. 3. Moscow, 1960.
Stumpf, K. Tonpsychologie, vols. 1–2. Leipzig, 1883–90.
Handschin, J. Der Toncharakter. Zürich [1948].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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