timbre

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timbre

Music tone colour or quality of sound, esp a specific type of tone colour
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Timbre

 

the quality of sound (its “color”) that makes it possible to distinguish between sounds of the same pitch when made on different instruments or by different voices.

Timbre is associated with the complex nature of sound vibrations and depends on such factors as the overtones or partial tones that accompany the fundamental tone and the regions of the sound spectrum in which they are particularly intense. These factors are determined by the material and shape of the body emitting the sound, the resonators that help form the sound, and the means of producing the sound. The times of sound production and decay also have a large effect on timbre.

In speech, timbre makes it possible to distinguish between vowels and other sonorants; here, the first and second formants play the main role. Speech sounds of the same timbre may be of any pitch and intensity. At the same time, the relationship between the frequency of the fundamental tone and the formants and overtones determines the individual characteristics of a given person’s speech; here, the third and higher formants play the leading role. In intonation in running speech, timbre makes it possible to distinguish between shades of emotion, such as joy, displeasure, and hostility.

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

timbre

[′tam·bər]
(acoustics)
That attribute of auditory sensation in terms of which a listener can judge that two sounds similarly presented and having the same loudness and pitch are dissimilar. Also known as musical quality; quality of sound.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

timbre

A quality of sound that distinguishes one voice or musical instrument from another. For example, MIDI synthesizers are multi-timbral, meaning that they can play multiple instruments simultaneously.
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