VCO.MUS.4

Lesson Summary 

Define timbre and harmonics in its relation to musical examples and the scientific and mathematical qualities of specific timbres.

Vocabulary 

Timbre - Also known as tone color or tone quality. Timbre the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the perception of timbre include a sounds frequency spectrum and envelope.

Fundamental frequency - the harmonic component of a complex wave that has the lowest frequency and commonly the greatest amplitude. In musical terms the principal tone produced.

Harmonics – Higher frequencies of a complex waveform that are multiples of the fundamental frequency. For example if the fundamental  is 200Hz, the second harmonic is 400Hz and third harmonic is 600Hz. 

Exercise 

Listen to the various timbre's produced by the Werkstatt and compare spectral information to traditional instruments. 

 

Figure 1. Sawtooth wave setting. Sawtooth waves contain all harmonic content possible. 

 

 

 

Figure 2. Triangle wave settings. Triangle waves contain only odd harmonics. 

 

 

Figure 3. Triangle wave jumper configuration. Triangle waves contain only odd harmonics. 

 

 

Figure 4. Pulse wave settings. The harmonics of the sound depend on the duty cycle. Turning the PWM knob will alter the pulse wave's duty cycle, and therefore change the timbre.  A Square wave is achievable by setting the PWM knob to 50%, this type of wave has only odd harmonic content. 

 

 

Figure 5. This setting uses the LFO to add non-harmonically related content to our pitched sound.  This setting resembles a percussion sound due to the harmonic content of traditional percussion instruments.  Explore the different timbre's available by switching LFO WAVE types between SQUARE and TRIANGLE. Timbre will also be altered by turning the LFO RATE knob. 

Materials 

Jumper cables

Subject 
Unit 

Comments

2

Am I missing something with figure 5? Doesn't seem the LFO is doing anything. Changing the rate and wave of the LFO doesn't alter the timbre...

I agree. In can only assume there is meant to be a jumper cable in the breakout section. E.g. is it meant to be LFO:OUT to VCF:IN?