Andrea Szigetvári


Real-time timbre solfége theasurus – developing skills to memorise, recognize and identify the qualities of musical timbre – 

The real-time timbre solfége theasurus is one of the practical results of a research exploring the form bearing capacity of timbral dimensions and the possibility of practical implications of separated timbre dimensions in education, music theory and composition. 

One of the main goals of the research was to make contribution to the development of new music theory reacting to the fast evolving new musical methods and languages with a particular consideration for music operating with parameters of musical sonorities. 

According to Stephen McAdams memory may be represented as a kind of storage that is itself a model of the evolving physical world. The storage is structured in relevant ways with respect to what is important in the world. In the field of classical music these are the primary qualites (like pitch and rhythm) to which the greatest importance had been assigned. Present music education does not support the development of systematic categories and representations for perception of musical timbre and unconsciously influential music transmitted by the everyday media deals also almost exclusively with primary parameters. With the spread of the electronic media in music skills for categorization and proper representation of sonorities seems to become important, if not indispensable for appreciation of certain kinds of music. 

Our research was based on David Wessel‘s timbral dimensions which were extended to synthesized and processed sonorities. Stephen McAdams concerns about the form bearing capacity of timbre dimensions had been taken into consideration. From the results of psychoacoustic investigations a conclusion had been formalized stating that timbre possesses a form-bearing capacity, but its behaviour substantially differs from the behaviour of the primary parameters which change over one dimension. According to our results timbre is able to determine a musical form in such cases, when it changes over sufficent amount of dimensions, and its complex parameter-changes create clear subjective percepts. 

To explore the behavior of the dimensions of the timbre the notion of reduced timbre space has been introduced. A reduced timbre space is a matrix including limited number of timbre dimensions, which make it possible to control the partials of sonorities and their limited combinations separately. In the form of real-time sound synthesis and processing programs (written in MAX/MSP) certain timbre dimensions were modelled and different reduced timbre spaces were originated. 

A timbre solfége thesaurus has been composed containing timbre matrices (limited timbre spaces) based on standard sound synthesis and processing techniques (like additive synthesis, subtractive synthesis, FM synthesis, granular synthesis). Beyond default timbres the user can create further examples, since the matrices are convenient for putting together a large number of logically ordered sonorities. 

Depending on the educational needs different interfaces were created for different target groups. The interfaces differ in the method of representation (graphical, descriptive, parametric) of the individual timbre dimensions. 

Zurück zu Abstracts & Bios