The timbre ( the timbre ) is in the music of one of the parameters of the single tone and is determined by its sound spectrum, so the specific mixture of tone, harmonics, noise components, as well as the time course of this spectrum and volume.


An analysis of the amplitude spectrum of an audio signal of approximately periodic vibrations, for example by means of the short-time Fourier transform (FFT ), then the audio signal into a sinusoidal fundamental wave and the harmonics are split. The frequency of compilation and envelope ( formants ) determine the characteristic sound or timbre of many musical instruments. This is one reason why different instruments sound different at the same pitch of the root.

In mechanical musical instruments in addition to the fundamental harmonics are always present. Pure sine oscillations with the frequency of the fundamental tone can be generated only in electronic form such a synthesizer.

There are also musical sounds used, which have more complex compositions.

  • Bells are difficult to describe with simple Tonverhältnissen. Generally strong inharmonicity leads to a more metallic sound.
  • Drum sounds are a mixture of tones and noise signals.
  • Even narrow-band noise can be described as musical timbre use (wind howling ).
  • In many musical sounds and noise components are also crucial for the tone ( eg blowing noise in wind instruments and organ pipes ).


Crucial for the tone is particularly the transient response, ie, the time profile of the spectrum and volume in the first split seconds of a sound. Shows you this first tenths of a second off, some instruments can be identified only with difficulty.


Essential to the sound of a musical instrument are also the formants, which are independent of the played pitch and mainly depends on the design of the instrument. As formants is called characteristic minima and maxima in the harmonic spectrum of an acoustic vibration.

The perceived and measurable sound of speech sounds is causally determined by formant: Their respective specific location allows the acoustic distinction between the vowels a, e, i, o, u (see also: vowel triangle).

Game art

In addition to the quality of the sound emitter (eg instrument, singing voice) also determines the type of excitation ( stimulation technique ) the timbre of an instrument.

The tone, that is, the existing frequency components and their temporal behavior, it allows that we brought forth on different instruments sounds, but can also differ on the same instrument brought forth different sounds hörmäßig.

Timbre dynamics

Dynamic changes have timbre changes - ie spectral changes - the result. Examples: reinforced blowing, various painting etc. Music instruments sound in the piano unlike the forte. This is referred to as tones or dynamic spectral dynamics in contrast to the amplitude dynamic. If compressors with the amplitude dynamics greatly reduced in order to increase the volume, so the tone momentum is maintained and audible effect.