Opinions on Timbre

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Not to be confused with Timber.
For the Sophie B. Hawkins album, see Timbre (album).

In music, timbre (/ˈtæmbər/ TAM-bər or /ˈtɪmbər/ TIM-bər) also known as tone color or tone quality from psychoacoustics, is the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the perception of timbre include spectrum and envelope.

In simple terms, timbre is what makes a particular musical sound different from another, even when they have the same pitch and loudness. For instance, it is the difference between a guitar and a piano playing the same note at the same loudness. Experienced musicians are able to distinguish between different instruments based on their varied timbres, even if those instruments are playing notes at the same pitch and loudness.


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