Definition of timbre in US English:



  • The character or quality of a musical sound or voice as distinct from its pitch and intensity.

    ‘trumpet mutes with different timbres’
    ‘a voice high in pitch but rich in timbre’
    • ‘This changes both the timbres and the chords that are available to the violinist.’
    • ‘How did these women match their pitch, vibrato, and timbres with such precision?’
    • ‘The difference between string timbres and percussion timbres is intentionally blunted here.’
    • ‘The plainchant was delivered faultlessly, and gave a flavour of the complementary timbres of the male voices.’
    • ‘Different composers describe perceiving different colours with different keys, instrumental timbres, or harmonic structures.’
    tone, sound, sound quality, voice, voice quality, colour, tone colour, tonality, resonance, ring
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Mid 19th century: from French, from medieval Greek timbanon, from Greek tumpanon ‘drum’.