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Re: Timbre of instruments

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  • tim-bailey@grapevine.com.au
    Robert, I m not dissing harmonics, but I am suggesting the model that timbre is about the harmonics on the sustain. This far too often repeated idea doesn t
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 7, 2012

      I'm not dissing harmonics, but I am suggesting the model that timbre is about the harmonics 'on the sustain.'

      This far too often repeated idea doesn't even apply to a lot of instruments, and to even more notes.

      So, I don't think you're quite getting it. You got close about violins.

      The fine filligree that allows us to distinguish, say a short Stradivarius from a long loud concert model, IS in the attack, and decay of that instrument, anyway.

      If many instruments don't have any sustain, and we can still pick the others when they are only doing attack and decay, and if know we can reliably distinguish all percussion from their attacks (including pianos which are percussion). ....?

      Then, the sustain/continuous tone (and ITS harmonics) are pretty much unimportant to our hearing, and tests from before stereo show that they aren't important. Steady state models of audio are probably not as important as they have been, also.

      The harmonics that are in the attack and the decay are of course, vital.

      As I wrote the instrument and the note itself is 'fully characterised' by the attack. IE its nature is expressed there, fully, as is the player's or singer's expressive intent.

      Most of expression really is in how we start a note, because with nearly all instruments and all voices you are stuck with that. All real acoustic singers know this.

      In fact we singers have a saying that sums it up, 'if ye cannae pitch, ye cannae pitch!'

      The piano is a percussion instrument. Its harmonics are in the attack and decay, because there IS nowhere else for them to happen. Pedalling only affects the decay.

      We can even pick different players on the same instrument from their attacks. So, how a note sounds is bound up in how it is started, as is what it expresses. Next most important is how it decays.

      If we only used instruments that only had attack and decay we could still have music, expression, nuance and interplay. Percussion groups are proof of those propositions.

      So, getting music right for good audio reproduction does depend on the recording chain/system/room's ability to reproduce transients, and decays, as they originally happened.

      Matching rise and decay times in amplifiers, speakers and rooms is important, as are treating the room / controlled directivity / room DSP.

      These need to be given the same importance that steady state behaviour has been given.

      IME&O they are certainly more important than the an amplifier's output impedance, as long as it is low enough for the load and smooth (unless it's awful and dynamic as most/many? DHT SET amps!). Let alone what devices it uses.

      FR needs to be pretty flat but a gently falling response above the upper mids doesn't hurt.

      next week Alpha and Beta.
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