Anatomy of a Sound – Hearing Timbre
Anatomy of a Sound – Hearing Timbre (english version only)
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To cite this course
Alexis Baskind, Anatomy of a Sound – Hearing Timbre, course material, license: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.
A PDF Version (without animations and sound examples) is available here.
1. What does “Timbre” mean ? (perception)
Definition of timbre, vocabulary to describe timbre
2. What is a musical sound made of ? (physics)
Onsets (transients, attacks), sustain part, spectrum, overtones and noisy part, resonance, ADSR model
3. Timbre allows to recognize a musical instrument
Instrumental sounds with same pitch and loudness can be distinguished thanks to their timbre. Timbre not only determined by the overtone spectrum
4. Overtone Spectrum
For sustained sounds, the relative amplitude of the overtones are specific to a given instrument. But the overtone spectrum may be not sufficient if it’s too poor in harmonics. Overtone spectrum consists in overtones shaped by the envelope (formants). Formants are an important feature of a given sound (example with voice). Reminder: overtones depends on dynamics
5. Roughness of complex tones
Definition of roughness, case of simple and complex sounds, examples
Definition of phasiness, examples
Onsets may be essential for the identification of non-sustained sounds. Which information does the onset bring to the sound?
Reminder: time evolution of overtones during the decay. Artificial releases
9. Noise component of a sound
Importance of the noisy part for the identification of some sounds
10. Frequency ranges and sound quality
Examples of correspondances between physical frequency ranges and timbral descriptions.