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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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On the Physical Correlates of Timbre

On the Physical Correlates of Timbre


(p.128) Chapter 4 On the Physical Correlates of Timbre
From Scratch

James Tenney

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

James Tenney discusses the physical correlates of timbre using the digital computer technique developed at the Bell Telephone Laboratories. His intention is to synthesize a large class of timbres, first by considering the physical properties of natural sounds as well as sounds produced by conventional musical instruments. He goes on to explore how many different ways that the quality or timbre of a sound may be made to vary perceptibly, and in how many ways the quality of one sound may be distinguished from that of another, given that the perceived pitch, intensity, and duration are held constant. Tenney also talks about certain transient phenomena and various kinds of quasi-steady-state modulation processes which, along with the spectrum, constitute what he calls the three basic parameters of timbre. He examines each of these three parameters into several subparameters.

Keywords:   timbre, James Tenney, sound, pitch, intensity, duration, transient phenomena, modulation processes, spectrum

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