Timbre Models of Musical Sounds

Kristoffer Jensen
University of Copenhagen, Denmark (1999)


This work involves the analysis of musical instrument sounds, the creation of timbre models, the estimation of the parameters of the timbre models and the analysis of the timbre model parameters.

The timbre models are found by studying the literature of auditory perception, and by studying the gestures of music performance.

Some of the important results from this work are an improved fundamental frequency estimator, a new envelope analysis method, and simple intuitive models for the sound of musical instruments. Furthermore a model for the spectral envelope is introduced in this work. A new function, the brightness creation function, is introduced in the spectral envelope model.

The timbre model is used to analyze the evolution of the different timbre parameters when the fundamental frequency is changed, but also for different intensity, tempo, or style. The main results from this analysis are that brightness rises with frequency, but nevertheless the fundamental has almost all amplitude for the high notes. The attack and release times generally fall with frequency. It was found that only brightness and amplitude are affected by a change in intensity, and only the sustain and release times are affected when the tempo is changed.

The different timbre models are also used for the classification of the sounds in musical instrument classes with very good results. Finally, listening tests have been performed, which assessed that the best timbre model has an acceptable sound quality.

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