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PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal

To the Definition of the Concept of 'Timbre'

Rais Mark

Editor of the electronic journal "Israel XXI"

6753054, Izrail', g. Tel' Aviv, ul. Tslilei-Khanina, 5, kv. 8

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The subject of the article is the conception of timbre used in musicology and the clarification of the concept denoting it. The current definition according to which timbre is a quality of sound due towhich the tones of the same pitch level and loudness sound differently does not withstand the slightest criticism. Firstly, not all sounds have a certain pitch level. Secondly, even if they have a certain pitch level, in reality this pitch is a collectionof frequencies. Thirdly, this formulation does not take into account the instances when instruments do not have a common sound. And, finally, it does not refer to the noises that are distinguished by timbre but do not have a certain pitch level. Moreover, it tacitly implies that only several instruments can be distinguished by timbre. However, in this respect, there are groups of instruments that rarely have one and the same sound and are not usually comparable in volume. The author analyses the spectra of various instruments, describes their evolution, compares the sounds of traditional instruments and voices with the sounds electronically synthesized. On basis of this research, the author suggests to consider timbre as a collection of simultaneous sounds expressed through the constancy of their overtone series maintaining their loudness in relation to each other. The author suggests to consider the timbre of one instrumenta particular instance of this set of sounds when it consists of only one member. The author also describes the types of mutual transition of timbres.

Keywords: electro-acoustic music, orchestra, ensemble, instrument, overtone, noise, sound, timbre, violin, trumpet
This article written in Russian. You can find full text of article in Russian here .

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