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Theory of Timbre Perception


Sorry, I don't understand the question. Perhaps this is because we have different ideas about what 'timbre' is, and maybe, you don't explain what you mean by 'timbre'.

A concrete example to explain: a clarinet plays its E below middle C, 4 seconds, mezzopiano, crescendo / diminuendo. Do you call this a single timbre?

A second example: I sing the word "See", G below middle C, 4 seconds, mezzoforte. Do you hear a single timbre?

As the term psychoacoustics has evolved into perception and cognition, I would place timbre on the 'cognition' side of this process, that is, it doesn't exist except as interpreted by the brain. The first thing I examine is how the sound is segmented. This is in my experience not easy to generalize and (for example) Smalley's spectromorphology, http://www.ears.dmu.ac.uk/spip.php?rubrique28 , as with Pierre Schaeffer (objet sonore http://www.ears.dmu.ac.uk/articleBiblio.php3?id_article=124), encounters serious difficulties in many real-world situations. My thinking is that this relates to their attempt to collapse multi-dimensional and hierarchical processes into a single 'flatland' description.

Your mileage may vary.



Date:    Mon, 6 Aug 2007 13:15:43 +1000
From:    Chris Share <cshare01@xxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Theory of Timbre Perception


I'm looking for information related to the mechanism of timbre perception in human listeners. I realise that timbre perception relies on the perception of loudness and pitch, however I'm having trouble finding anything that specifically addresses the theory of timbre perception (am I Googling in the wrong places?). I'm not interested in articles on how listeners classify timbre.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.