Re: The word timbre: origins

Subject: Re: The word timbre: origins
From: John Kamevaar (
Date: Wed Sep 29 2004 - 17:06:17 EDT

In the old language (of philosophy), we could amuse ourselves by
entertaining the notion that timbre is the specific attribute of a sound,
constituting its "essence", if pitch and envelope are accidental, that is -
formal positions that are intrinsically exterior to
timbre and universally applicable within a limited range of possibility. A
quality can still be "disinctive" even if it is entirely dependent. Or no?

Kevin Austin wrote:

> Whether pitch is a facet of timbre or is 'something else' has been
> discussed and examined. A high frequency to (9.5kHz) may be perceived
> as timbral in nature, and most people who have been tested find it
> difficult to give repeatable pitch information about it.
> One could consider a simple recitation of the vowels /a/ /i/ /I/ /eh/
> /o/ /u/, followed by singing the sequence on a mid-range note,
> followed by singing on a high note, followed by singing on a low note
> and determine in which cases pitch is more dominant and in which
> pitch is more dominant.
> Part of the reference is to the idea that when a flute and an oboe
> produce the same pitch, which parameter is perceived as varying?
> While pitch perception has been widely studied, spectral (timbral)
> perception is still quite poorly understood / codified. While some
> people have difficulty telling a violin from a viola, others are able
> to comment on the quality of the violin in relation to other violins.
> Best
> Kevin
> At 14:06 -0500 2004/09/28, Prof Malone wrote:
> >on 9.28.04 2:56 PM, John Kamevaar at wrote:
> >
> > >> a helmet or skull cap, a heraldic crest, etc.).
> >i like this one timbre is like the hat a sound wears
> >>>
> >>>[as distinct from its pitch
> >>> or intensity]'
> >i would think as distinct from other sounds (hats)
> >as pitch is a facet of timbre
> >--
> >happy tunes
> >don malone
> >
> >it takes all of us

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