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Difference Between 'Sound' and 'Sound Colors'?


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10 hours ago, sospiri said:

I've been trying to play like your friend who could play happy birthday and make it sound sad. I can only do this if I change the notes and sing or play in a Russian accent. What am I doing wrong?

don't ask me.  he passed on before i was ready to learn it, very unfortunately.  phil might be able to help with his story of the girl who couldn't play sad that he's promised but so far hasn't delivered on

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14 hours ago, matesic said:

Was I supposed to recognise him? He's completely anonymous on this youtube clip, and anyone who claims to know how "the human mind works best" is hubristic at least. But I admit I was a bit intemperate, and I did cross out the "fool"!

Lol...and I was wrong! So much for giving the benefit of the doubt! :lol:

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8 hours ago, Rue said:

Lol...and I was wrong! So much for giving the benefit of the doubt! :lol:

Influential people are the ones who deserve the most scrutiny. He may be a great teacher but I still think he's a hubrist (?) of which there have been plenty of examples in the music world :angry:

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I don't understand what you don't understand...

Use the Twinkle example, or a few bars of anything you like...

"Sound" is volume/dynamics. Such as;

- soft (piano)

- medium (mezzopiano)

- loud (forte)

"Sound colour" is mood (or tone etc.). Such as;

- happy/uplifting 

- sad/melancholic

- jittery/annoying

- bouncy...and so on

When you combine sound with sound colour you get endless variation ...


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4 minutes ago, tchaikovsgay said:

so sound = dynamics; sound color = timbre?

There are no hard and fast definitions here.  People will use expressive terminology differently.

That being said...

good sound means "even tone".  (The bow is running parallel to the bridge, the bow speed and pressure are appropriate for the contact point.)

sound color refers to timbre

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 The last few comments illustrate one of the fundamental problems of music, and that is describing it. I have a reasonably clear vocabulary for describing sound, but if I used any of it here, I would probably need to explain it, simply because, for instance, “warm“ is too vague by itself.

A colleague is trying cellos, and the current instrument he has that is selling for $16,000 is unacceptable to him because its sound is uninteresting.

So I guess if your sound is interesting, then you are getting the right sound, regardless of how people describe it.


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...this is where it gets complicated...

But an over-all sound and a deliberate sound that you're trying to produce when learning a piece are different.

Right now - due to the time of year and my environment - my violin sounds awful. My bassoon sounds awful...my guitars ain't doin' much better.

But that's different to the sound I'm trying to produce as I practice. It's a separate layer.

The sound your colleague is looking for is both personal and nebulous. What he's looking for, thinks he's hearing and what he's actually hearing can't be defined in a concrete manner.

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