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Михаил Терентьев

on 29 October 2013

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Transcript of Timbre

Thank you for your attention!
Hi! I am Mikhail Terentyev from Saint-Petersburg in the Russian Federation.
This lesson is for week 1 of Introduction To Music Production at Coursera.org.
And I'll tell about the timbre.
Sounds may be generally characterized by pitch, loudness, and quality. Sound "quality" or "timbre" describes those characteristics of sound which allow the ear to distinguish sounds which have the same pitch and loudness. Timbre is then a general term for the distinguishable characteristics of a tone. Timbre is mainly determined by the harmonic content of a sound and the dynamic characteristics of the sound such as vibrato and the attack-decay envelope of the sound.
In music, timbre also known as tone color or tone quality from psychoacoustics, is the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the perception of timbre include spectrum and envelope.

1. Definition
2. Spectrogram
3. Atributes
4. Harmonics
5. Envelop
Tonal character, usually pitched
Noisy, with or without some tonal character, including rustle noise
Coloration glide or formant glide
Final sound
Periodic sound
Noise, including random pulses characterized by the rustle time (the mean interval between pulses)
Spectral envelope
Physical rise and decay time
Change of spectral envelope
Small change (one up and down) in frequency
Frequency modulation
Amplitude modulation
The richness of a sound or note produced by a musical instrument is sometimes described in terms of a sum of a number of distinct frequencies. The lowest frequency is called the fundamental frequency and the pitch it produces is used to name the note, but the fundamental frequency is not always the dominant frequency. The dominant frequency is the frequency that is most heard, and it is always a multiple of the fundamental frequency. For example, the dominant frequency for the transverse flute is double the fundamental frequency. Other significant frequencies are called overtones of the fundamental frequency, which may include harmonics and partials. Harmonics are whole number multiples of the fundamental frequency, such as ×2, ×3, ×4, etc. Partials are other overtones. Sometimes there are also subharmonics at whole number divisions of the fundamental frequency. Most western instruments produce harmonic sounds, but many instruments produce partials and inharmonic tones, such as cymbals and other indefinite-pitched instruments.
The timbre of a sound is also greatly affected by the following aspects of its envelope: attack time and characteristics, decay, sustain, release (ADSR envelope) and transients. Thus these are all common controls on synthesizers. For instance, if one takes away the attack from the sound of a piano or trumpet, it becomes more difficult to identify the sound correctly, since the sound of the hammer hitting the strings or the first blat of the player's lips are highly characteristic of those instruments. The envelope is the overall amplitude structure of a sound, so called because the sound just "fits" inside its envelope: what this means should be clear from a time-domain display of almost any interesting sound, zoomed out enough that the entire waveform is visible.
Psychoacoustic evidence
Often listeners are able to identify the kind of instrument even across "conditions of changing pitch and loudness, in different environments and with different players". In the case of the clarinet, an acoustic analysis of the waveforms shows they are irregular enough to suggest three instruments rather than one. David Luce (1963, 16) suggests that this implies "certain strong regularities in the acoustic waveform of the above instruments must exist which are invariant with respect to the above variables". However, Robert Erickson argues that there are few regularities and they do not explain our "powers of recognition and identification". He suggests the borrowing from studies of vision and visual perception the concept of subjective constancy (Erickson 1975, 11).
Psychoacoustic experiments from the 1960s onwards tried to elucidate the nature of timbre. One method involves playing pairs of sounds to listeners and then using a multidimensional scaling algorithm to aggregate their dissimilarity judgements into a timbre space; the most consistent outcomes from such experiments are that brightness or spectral energy distribution (Grey 1977), and the "bite", or rate and synchronicity (Wessel 1979) and rise time (Lakatos 2000), of the attack are important factors.
In simple terms, timbre is what makes a particular musical sound different from another, even when they have the same pitch and loudness. For instance, it is the difference between a guitar and a piano playing the same note at the same loudness. Experienced musicians are able to distinguish between different instruments based on their varied timbres, even if those instruments are playing notes at the same pitch and loudness.
A spectrogram, or sonogram, is a visual representation of the spectrum of frequencies in a sound or other signal as they vary with time or some other variable.
I decided to talk about it, because it is very interesting and visual way to see what we hear).
Y - Frequency
X - Time
Spectrogram of passage from Pictures at Exhibition (orchestra)
From Saint - Petersburg with Love!
Full transcript