Re: Overtones

Subject: Re: Overtones
From: Rob Godman (
Date: Mon Jun 28 2004 - 12:00:13 EDT

On 28/6/04 4:22 pm, "Jay Smalridge" <> wrote:

> Hello,
> I was researching the differences in musical instruments when someone told me
> that the main difference is the amount of overtones after the Fundamental
> frequency. Is this true? Could I distiguish instruments from one another
> just by counting the amount of overtones? Seems like there is a lot more to
> it than just that... like perhaps the ADSR of a sound? Or am I digging to
> deep?
> Thanks
> Jay

Interesting area - you will find that the A part of ADSR is crucial when it
comes to recognising instrumental sound. Remove the attack from the sound
and you will begin to have difficulty in telling the difference between
quite diverse instruments. An oboe and a trumpet will sound *very* similar
indeed. Place the attack of an oboe onto a flute and you potentially have a
hybrid instrument (either through a cut/paste method or convolution for a
more interesting sonic result).



Rob Godman - Composer
Senior Lecturer in Music Technology

John Lill Centre for Music Studies
University of Hertfordshire
T. (44) 01707 286474
F. (44) 01707 285098

Herts email -


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