Thursday, August 26, 2004


Timbre - Timbre, according to "The New Harvard Dictionary", is
a melody, a very popular one, that is used for differents texts. The term, which came into use in the late 18th century, has been employed in connection with the sequences of Adam of St. Victor and some other liturgical chant, the 'noel' of the 16th century and after, 'vaudeville', and 'opera comique'. Such a melody is usually identified by the first phrase of its presumed original words, and was specified in early publications with a phrase such as "to the tune of...".
In other words,", timbre is the quality of a musical note that distinguishes different types of musical instruments. Someone might say after a performance, "they played that piece timbre" to describe the characteristic of the sound that they made. Besides this definition, in the middle ages the word timbre was also used to mean small bell or a small frame drum, what we know today as the tambourine.

UPDATE:: Timbre is also described as tone color. Tone color is the character of sound, as deistinct from its pitch; hence, the quality of sound that distinguishes one instrument from another.

(The Harvard Dictionary of Music, Randel, Don)