/tam"beuhr, tim"-/; Fr. /taonn"brddeu/, n.
1. Acoustics, Phonet. 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.
[1325-75; ME tymbre < F: sound (orig. of bell), MF: bell, timbrel, drum, OF: drum < MGk tímbanon, var. of Gk týmpanon drum]

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Quality of sound that distinguishes one instrument, voice, or other sound source from another.

Timbre largely results from a characteristic combination of overtones produced by different instruments. This distinctive combination (which usually varies across the range of pitches) is what principally permits a listener to distinguish a clarinet from a flute, an alto from a tenor, or even a Stradivarius violin from a Guarneri violin, when both are sounding the same pitch. One element of timbre results from the differing methods of producing the sounds (blowing, bowing, striking, etc.), especially audible at the moment a note begins.

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also called  timber  

      quality of auditory sensations produced by the tone of a sound wave.

 The timbre of a sound depends on its wave form, which varies with the number of overtones, or harmonics, that are present, their frequencies, and their relative intensities. The illustration—> shows the wave form that results when pure tones of frequencies 100, 300, and 500 hertz (cycles per second) and relative amplitudes of 10, 5, and 2.5 are synthesized into a complex tone. At the right is the resultant of the three sine curves when their ordinates are added point by point along the time scale. In equation form, the amplitude y of the wave form at any time t would be represented by y = 10 sin (2π 100t) + 5 sin (2π 300t) + 2.5 sin (2π 500t). The timbre of this form would be recognizable and different from others having a fundamental tone of 100 hertz but a different harmonic amplitude.

      In music timbre is the characteristic tone colour of an instrument (musical instrument) or voice (vocalization), arising from reinforcement by individual singers (singing) or instruments of different harmonics, or overtones (q.v.), of a fundamental pitch. Extremely nasal timbre thus stresses different overtones than mellow timbre. The timbre of the tuning fork and of the stopped diapason organ pipe is clear and pure because the sound they produce is almost without overtones. Timbre is determined by an instrument's shape (e.g., the conical or cylindrical pipe of a wind instrument), by the frequency range within which the instrument can produce overtones, and by the envelope of the instrument's sound. The timbre of spoken vowels or of a singing voice is modified by constricting or opening various parts of the vocal tract, such as the lips, tongue, or throat.

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Universalium. 2010.

(of tone)

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  • timbre — [ tɛ̃br ] n. m. • 1374; « sorte de tambour » XIIe; gr. byz. tumbanon, gr. class. tumpanon → tympan I ♦ 1 ♦ Anciennt Cloche immobile frappée par un marteau. Timbres d un carillon. (1858) Mod. Calotte de métal qui, frappée par un petit marteau ou… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • timbré — timbre [ tɛ̃br ] n. m. • 1374; « sorte de tambour » XIIe; gr. byz. tumbanon, gr. class. tumpanon → tympan I ♦ 1 ♦ Anciennt Cloche immobile frappée par un marteau. Timbres d un carillon. (1858) Mod. Calotte de métal qui, frappée par un petit… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • timbre — 1. (tin br ) s. m. 1°   Timbre d un tambour, corde à boyau tendue en double sur le fond inférieur d un tambour pour le faire mieux résonner. •   Il vaut mieux voir des broches que des piques, des marmites que des timbres, et tous les ustensiles… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • timbre — sustantivo masculino 1. Dispositivo mecánico o eléctrico que produce un sonido y sirve para avisar o llamar: el timbre de una bicicleta, el timbre de una casa, llamar al timbre. No he oído el timbre. 2. Área: física Cualidad de un sonido… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • timbré — timbré, ée (tin bré, brée) part. passé de timbrer. 1°   Fig. et familièrement. Une cervelle, une tête, un cerveau mal timbré, ou qui n est pas bien timbré, un écervelé, un fou (locution qui vient de l emploi métaphorique de timbre fêlé pour… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • timbre — TIMBRE. s. m. Sorte de cloche ronde qui n a point de battant en dedans, & qui est frappée en dehors par un marteau. Le timbre d une horloge. timbre d un reveille matin. le timbre de cette horloge est tres bon. Timbre, en termes d Armoiries,… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Timbre — Sn charakteristische Klangfarbe per. Wortschatz fach. (19. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus frz. timbre m. (älter: Schellentrommel ), dieses über das Mittelgriechische aus gr. týmpanon Handtrommel, Tamburin , zu gr. týptein schlagen, stoßen .… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • timbre — (Del fr. timbre). 1. m. Pequeño aparato empleado para llamar o avisar mediante la emisión rápida de sonidos intermitentes. 2. Sello, especialmente el que se estampa en seco. 3. Sello emitido por el Estado para algunos documentos, como pago al… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Timbre — Tim bre, n. [F., a bell to be struck with a hammer, sound, tone, stamp, crest, in OF., a timbrel. Cf. {Timbrel}.] 1. (Her.) The crest on a coat of arms. [1913 Webster] 2. (Mus.) The quality or tone distinguishing voices or instruments; tone… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • 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 (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • timbré — Timbré, [timbr]ée. part. pass. Il a les significations de son verbe. On dit fig. Un esprit bien timbré, mal timbré. une cervelle, une teste bien timbrée, mal timbrée, pour dire, Une personne de bon sens, de mauvais sens …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

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