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Unit 2

2.8 Timbre

1 min readโ€ขnovember 2, 2020

Caroline Koffke

Mickey Hansen

2.8: Timbre

Just by listening, can you tell a piano from a flute? Of course, you can! And that's because the two have distinct timbres or qualities of sound.

A unique timbre is not only something you can make out between different types of instruments. As musicians, we know that timbre can also vary between different models of the same instrument; therefore, you can even tell the difference between two different upright pianos or two oboes, just as you can tell the difference between two human voices.


Furthermore, when it comes to a specific instrument, sound quality is often affected by the register, or where in the instrument's range it's being played.

Just so we are clear, the word timbre comes from French ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท and is pronounced "tam-ber" not....


๐Ÿฆœ Polly wants a progress tracker: How would describe the timbre of a bass voice versus a soprano? How about a trumpet versus a xylophone?

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Exam Skills

Unit 1: Music Fundamentals I: Pitch, Major Scales and Key Signatures, Rhythm, Meter, and Expressive Elements

Unit 3: Music Fundamentals III: Triads and Seventh Chords

Unit 4: Harmony and Voice Leading I: Chord Function, Cadence, and Phrase

Unit 5: Harmony and Voice Leading II: Chord Progressions and Predominant Function