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From ScratchWritings in Music Theory$
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James Tenney, Larry Polansky, and Lauren Pratt

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038723

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038723.001.0001

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Excerpts from “An Experimental Investigation of Timbre—the Violin”

Excerpts from “An Experimental Investigation of Timbre—the Violin”


(p.132) Chapter 5 Excerpts from “An Experimental Investigation of Timbre—the Violin”
From Scratch

James Tenney

, Larry Polansky, Lauren Pratt, Robert Wannamaker, Michael Winter
University of Illinois Press

James Tenney presents excerpts from his 1966 essay “An Experimental Investigation of Timbre—the Violin.” The research was carried out at the School of Music and the Computation Center at Yale University. Tenney first provides a description of the experiment as well as the equipment and computer programs he used in his investigation. In particular, he discusses the basic approach to sound analysis and synthesis that employs a digital computer with peripheral equipment for translating a signal from “analog” to digital form (for analysis) and from digital to analog form (for synthesis). The analysis programs used in this study comprise a “pitch-synchronous” system, while the sound-generating program used to synthesize violin tones is Max V. Mathews's “Music IV Compiler.” Tenney then explains the experimental results and concludes with a proposal for further research and a request for continued support by the National Science Foundation, laying special emphasis on spectral parameters and envelope and modulation parameters.

Keywords:   timbre, James Tenney, computer program, sound analysis, sound, violin, tone, spectral parameters, envelope, modulation parameters

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