Isn't "Tone" really "Timbre"?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by GAD, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm not trying to be a PITA - I'm trying to understand. I'm really digging into music theory these days and it struck me that the identifiable quality of a note that makes it sound different, though the same pitch, is usually defined as timbre.

    The timbre of a note is what make you recognize it as a guitar vs. a trumpet right? So wouldn't the timbre of the note make you recognize that the note is being played by Carlos Santana or SRV?

    Or am I being too literal in the realm of music theory? Dictionary.com defines tone as:

    Is this one of those "Vibrato is called Tremelo" things in the guitar world? Or am I over thinking it all (again)?

    GAD
     
  2. Griz

    Griz Member

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    Yep, that's what Daniel Levitin says in This Is Your Brain On Music. Tone is actually timbre (rhymes with amber).

    That said, however, can you imagine the logistical nightmare of hunting down all those tone controls and exchanging them for timbre controls, not to mention the endless corrections of mistaken pronunciation ("It's not pronounced like timber, ya wood-head; it rhymes with amber!")?

    We'd see a lot of fights on stage, for sure. :D
     
  3. ugacrow

    ugacrow Member

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    Read what you just posted. Definition #2:

    As in "His guitar tone was fantastic."

    Timbre might work also. But saying "tone" is not in the least bit inaccurate.
     
  4. re-animator

    re-animator Senior Member

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    in very broad terms yes.


    Most people define "timbre" as color. Its why a note sounds different when played on guitar in comparison to piano. Sit on a roland phantom keyboard and run through the different voices, you're playing the same note, but they sound different.


    some other definable things are different and easily identified like vibrato and sustain - they don't fall into timbre specifically.... but virtually everything else does.
     
  5. gaddis

    gaddis Member

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    Well, tone is one aspect of timbre. There are a lot of things that makea a guitar sound different than a trumpet, or Carlos sound different than SRV. Tone is just one part of it. There is also the so-called "envelope" of the note, ie. the way the note builds up and then fades away. Plus other things like vibrato. All these things lumped together are called timbre.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2008
  6. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    I thought it was timbre like timburr not taamber?
     
  7. cyberpunk409

    cyberpunk409 Member

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    it's definately Timbre (as in Taaamber).

    440hz on a piano is an A note, 440hz on a guitar is an A note, 440hz on an oscilloscope/tone generator is a PURE A NOTE. The amount of imperfections on the 440hz sine wave determine the timbre/tone.

    A perfect sinusoidal (sp?) 440 hz (meaning 440 beats/sec) wave generates a pure A note. When you get little spikes and valleys in the wave form, you alter the timbre (it will still cycle at 440 times a second though).

    make sense?
     
  8. tomb

    tomb Member

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    I just finished reading this book a couple weeks ago. Fascinating... I couldn't put it down. VERY highly recommended to anyone who loves music and especially those of us that love to make music.
     
  9. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    You're right but look at the 2nd entry for tone. Tone is correct too, common usage.


    tim·bre [​IMG] Audio Help /ˈtæm[​IMG]bər, ˈtɪm-; Fr. ˈtɛ̃[​IMG]brə/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[tam-ber, tim-; Fr. tan-bruh] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun 1.Acoustics, Phonetics. the characteristic quality of a sound, independent of pitch and loudness, from which its source or manner of production can be inferred. Timbre depends on the relative strengths of the components of different frequencies, which are determined by resonance. 2.Music. the characteristic quality of sound produced by a particular instrument or voice; tone color.
    [Origin: 1325–75; ME tymbre < F: sound (orig. of bell), MF: bell, timbrel, drum, OF: drum < MGk tímbanon, var. of Gk týmpanon drum[​IMG]]

    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
    Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


    tim·bre Audio Help (t&#257;m'b&#601;r, t&#301;m'-) Pronunciation Key
    n. The combination of qualities of a sound that distinguishes it from other sounds of the same pitch and volume.


    [French, from Old French, drum, clapperless bell, probably from Medieval Greek *timbanon, drum, from Greek tumpanon, kettledrum.]

    (Download Now or Buy the Book) The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
    Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


    timbre

    "characteristic quality of a musical sound," 1849, from Fr. timbre "quality of a sound," earlier "sound of a bell," from O.Fr., "bell without a clapper," originally "drum," probably via Medieval Gk. *timbanon, from Gk. tympanon "kettledrum" (see tympanum). Timbre was used in O.Fr. (13c.) and M.E. (14c.) to render L. tympanum in Ps. 150.

    Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

    timbre
    noun(music) the distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound); "the timbre of her soprano was rich and lovely"; "the muffled tones of the broken bell summoned them to meet"


    WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

    tone [​IMG] Audio Help /to&#650;n/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[tohn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation, noun, verb, toned, ton·ing. –noun 1.any sound considered with reference to its quality, pitch, strength, source, etc.: shrill tones. 2.quality or character of sound. 3.vocal sound; the sound made by vibrating muscular bands in the larynx. 4.a particular quality, way of sounding, modulation, or intonation of the voice as expressive of some meaning, feeling, spirit, etc.: a tone of command. 5.an accent peculiar to a person, people, locality, etc., or a characteristic mode of sounding words in speech. 6.stress of voice on a syllable of a word. 7.Linguistics. a musical pitch or movement in pitch serving to distinguish two words otherwise composed of the same sounds, as in Chinese. 8.Music. a.a musical sound of definite pitch, consisting of several relatively simple constituents called partial tones, the lowest of which is called the fundamental tone and the others harmonics or overtones. b.an interval equivalent to two semitones; a whole tone; a whole step. c.any of the nine melodies or tunes to which Gregorian plainsong psalms are sung. 9.a quality of color with reference to the degree of absorption or reflection of light; a tint or shade; value. 10.that distinctive quality by which colors differ from one another in addition to their differences indicated by chroma, tint, shade; a slight modification of a given color; hue: green with a yellowish tone. 11.Art. the prevailing effect of harmony of color and values. 12.Physiology. a.the normal state of tension or responsiveness of the organs or tissues of the body. b.that state of the body or of an organ in which all its functions are performed with healthy vigor. c.normal sensitivity to stimulation. 13.a normal healthy mental condition. 14.a particular mental state or disposition; spirit, character, or tenor. 15.a particular style or manner, as of writing or speech; mood: the macabre tone of Poe's stories. 16.prevailing character or style, as of manners, morals, or philosophical outlook: the liberal tone of the 1960's. 17.style, distinction, or elegance. –verb (used with object) 18.to sound with a particular tone. 19.to give the proper tone to (a musical instrument). 20.to modify the tone or general coloring of. 21.to give the desired tone to (a painting, drawing, etc.). 22.Photography. to change the color of (a print), esp. by chemical means. 23.to render as specified in tone or coloring. 24.to modify the tone or character of. 25.to give or restore physical or mental tone to. –verb (used without object) 26.to take on a particular tone; assume color or tint. —Verb phrases 27.tone down, a.to become or cause to become softened or moderated: The newspaper toned down its attack. b.Painting. to make (a color) less intense in hue; subdue. 28.tone up, a.to give a higher or stronger tone to. b.to gain or cause to gain in tone or strength: toning up little-used muscles. 29.tone with or in with, to harmonize in tone or coloring; blend: The painting tones with the room.
    [Origin: 1275–1325; ME (n.) < L tonus < Gk tónos strain, tone, mode, lit., a stretching, akin to teínein to stretch[​IMG]]

    —Related forms toneless, adjective
    tone·less·ly, adverb
    tone·less·ness, noun

    —Synonyms 1. See sound1. 15. spirit, quality, temper.


    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
    Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
     
  10. fazendeiro

    fazendeiro Member

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    No, no no.

    "Amazing timbre"?
    "Timbre for days"?
    "No-timbre hack"?

    Just won't work.
     
  11. Dave Wakely

    Dave Wakely Member

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    Being called a timbre-hound isn't going to please some people either, I suspect. Especially given some of the pronunciations.

    As a copy-editor, I'd probably say something like 'Timbre is strictly more correct, and 'tone' in this sense possibly refers only to some aspects - including EQ - but has sufficiently wide common usage to be acceptable usage. Using 'tone' is also less likely to confuse those unfamiliar with the more correct, technical term.'.

    As a guitarplayer, you're right, but I can't see the world changing. Given that sentences like 'His bottom end resonated with timbre' are correct but likely to induce (un)intentional mirth, that might be a good thing.
     
  12. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    Hey ! Mr Timbre Keen Man, play a note for me
    Don't like Robben and old beano I'm not jonesing for
    Hey ! Mr Timbre Keen Man, play a note for me
    Play the jingle jangle top boost and I'll fall for you.
     
  13. Dave Wakely

    Dave Wakely Member

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    Not a man to lower the timbre of the conversation, obviously :)
     

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