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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

While timbre is typically understood as a property of a single musical note or event, many contemporary musical practices depend on the combination of multiple events—each with their own pitch, dynamic, and sound color—into unified composites with their own emergent timbres. Such composites are essential for composers of spectral music such as Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail, but also can be heard in works by composers from Arnold Schoenberg to James Tenney. Viewed from the perspective of music psychology, these composites are “chimeric” percepts, thwarting the usual parsing of sonic input into separate sources through auditory scene analysis. When timbre is redefined to include composite events, it overlaps significantly with the discipline of harmony; many musical effects—textural sound-masses, synthesized acoustic spectra, virtual ring modulation, etc.—blur the lines between timbre and harmony, opening up a hybrid space between the two domains.

Keywords: timbre, contemporary music, music psychology, auditory scene analysis, music analysis, spectral music, electronic music, orchestration

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