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date: 06 December 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The philosopher-psychologist Carl Stumpf studied Klangfarbe (timbre) as an integral part of his phenomenology. He combined novel experimental and observation techniques of timbre perception on both vowels and the sound of musical instruments with conceptual and logical work at the interface of physiology, psychology, and philosophy, outlining timbre as a complex impression (Komplexeindruck). This article argues that this approach is informed by an explicitly modern scientific framework that replaced Helmholtz’s earlier spectral model with concepts of distribution and multi-dimensionality, and with spatialization, embodied in formants (main and secondary). This refinement of the conception of timbre yielded insights into the structural laws of phenomena and into mental functions.

Keywords: timbre, phenomenology, introspection, complex impression, spectralism, spatialization, formant, modernity

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