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Posted by on Dec 10, 2010 in The Voice Box | 1 comment

Musical Term of the Week

A “Musical Term of the Week” from February 2010.

by Melissa Wimbishtimber


Often when people see this musical term, they pronounce it as if they just chopped down a tree! Many of us can recall a time when someone described the “timber” of an instrument or a voice and we gave them a pitiful nod without having the heart to correct them. The term timbre looks awfully similar to timber….just make sure YOU know the difference or you might end up looking like a real dumbwad at your next study session.

The term is used to describe the colors of a sound. Even this description is a bit obscure, but think about the difference between a trumpet and a clarinet playing the exact same melody in the exact same key and it might make more sense to you.

timbre – the quality given to a sound by its overtones; the resonance by which the ear recognizes and identifies a voiced speech sound; the quality of tone distinctive of a particular singing voice or musical instrument (Meriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

For more information about this term, click here.

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1 Comment

  1. I always think of this term in terms of wood. Much like the analogy Melissa used to describe this term, different instruments playing the same melody, I think of it as the same chair being made out of different wood types. When I describe it this way I think of both the physical and visual qualities that differentiate the wood types, and although the chair may have but one use, that is to sit on it, the wood type will help define the parameters of its use and appearance. Thanks Melissa!

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