Re: The word timbre: origins (fwd)


Subject: Re: The word timbre: origins (fwd)
From: John Kamevaar (john.kamevaar@sympatico.ca)
Date: Tue Sep 28 2004 - 15:56:08 EDT


Tasty bit of info - thanx - my own search, not long ago, just emphasised the
little French belle, I mean bell, as well as the resonating vowel

Kevin Austin wrote:

> This came up a while ago.
>
> best
>
> Kevin
>
> (from AUDITORY)
> --------------------------------------------
>
> Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2004 13:46:46 +1000
> From: Harvey Holmes <H.Holmes@UNSW.EDU.AU>
> Subject: Re: origin of 'timbre'
>
> I would like to add a little about the evolution of the word in
> English. My source is the (full) Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the
> authoritative etymological dictionary in English, which has several
> entries for 'timbre'. My brief summary of the OED material (OUP, 1971
> edition) follows.
>
> The OED traces the roots to Greek and Latin words, as mentioned below
> by Claire, but it entered English with different meanings at several
> different times through the Old French 'timbre'. It was first used
> in English the 12th century to mean a sort of kettledrum (translating
> the biblical Latin 'tympanum'), and later also to mean a tambourine
> and various types of bells (14th century). Various other derivative
> meanings arose in the middle ages (including a weight(?), a helmet or
> skull cap, a heraldic crest, etc.).
>
> The modern meaning apparently arose only in the 19th century
> (Charlotte Bronte and later), first meaning 'sound of a bell', then
> 'sonorous quality of any instrument or of a voice', and finally
> (1853) 'character or quality of a sound [as distinct from its pitch
> or intensity]', which is equivalent to the German 'Klangfarbe',
> essentially its current meaning.
>
> Harvey Holmes
>
> At 23:36 27/09/2004, you wrote:
>
> >Hello Jim
> >here is some cues so you can follow parts of the evolution of the word.
> >
> >TIMBRE : n.m. emprunte au grec byzantin /timbanon /(...) du grec
> >classique /tumpanon /"tambourin", (...) etant associe aux cultes
> >orgiaques de Cyb=E8le et de Dyonisos, le mot serait d'origine
> >s=E9mitique.(...) /Tympanum,/ d'o=F9 viennent la forme h=E9ritee disparue
> >/tympe /(v.1155) et l'emprunt /tympan. /(...)/ Timbre /s'est
> >progressivement eloigne de son sens d'emprunt /tambour de basque=
> /propre
> >=E0 l'ancien fran=E7ais; il s'appliquait a la cloche immobile que l'on
> >frappait avec un marteau (1374), qui est a l'origine du sens
> >metaphorique de "t=EAte" (v.1450). De cette valeur proc=E8de la locution
> >/avoir le timbre f=EAle. /(1606). De nos jours, le mot au sens concret
> >d=E9signe une calotte de metal qui, frapp=E9e par un marteau ou un=
> vibreur,
> >sert de sonnette (1858). Par metonymie, il d=E9signe la qualit=E9 de
> >sonorit=E9 d'un timbre (1762; 1740, "son d'un timbre" et, plus
> >generalement, d'un instrument donne, valeur importante en musique./=
> /Il
> >est employe aussi en phonetique (1926; /timbre d'une voyelle/)./ Timbre
> >/a eu un autre d=E9veloppement semantique fonde sur une analogie de=
> forme
> >avec le tambour ou la cloche nomm=E9e /timbre /au moyen ege. (...)
> >
> >Rey, Alain, /Dictionnaire historique de la langue francaise. /editions
> >LeRobert: Paris, 1998 (1992). Tome 3.
> >
> >Claire
> >
> >
> >beaucham a =E9crit :
> >
> >>I would like to have a good historical reference for the word
> >>"timbre". One book (Helmholtz's Sensations of Tone) says it
> >>was the original word for timpani. Another source says "a sort
> >>of drum with stretched strings". A dictionary says both "bell
> >>struck by a hammer" and "tymbanon kettledrum". Is there a
> >>good source that discusses the original meaning of the word
> >>and how it came to take on its modern meaning?
> >>
> >>Jim
> >>
> >>James W. Beauchamp
> >>Professor Emeritus of Music and Electrical & Computer Engineering
> >>University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
> >>2136 Music Bldg. MC-056
> >>1114 W. Nevada, Urbana, IL 61801 USA
> >>email: jwbeauch@uiuc.edu (also: beaucham@manfred.music.uiuc.edu)
> >>phone: +1-217-344-3307 (also: 217-244-1207 and 217-333-3691)
> >>fax: +1-217-344-3723 (also: 217-244-4585)
> >>WWW: http://ems.music.uiuc.edu/beaucham
>
> ------------------------------
>
> End of AUDITORY Digest - 26 Sep 2004 to 27 Sep 2004 (#2004-201)



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