My Hypothesis on What Defines a Sound's
This was written before I analyzed the experiment's results so as to make
this a true hypothesis rather than a simple statement of fact that I will show
to be true.
A tone's color is a difficult thing to describe. It is warm or cool, but never
cold. It is bright or dark, but has nothing to do with the instrument being played.
It also tends to be happy or sad, or any other random emotion, but it is difficult
to assign this tendency to a single pitch. I have heard, however, of people saying
that a sound is "too sad for such a happy piece," and that the performer should "brighten"
Essentially we discuss the brilliancy of a tone without even truly knowing what
we are talking about. Therefore I decided to figure out what truly makes a sound
sound bright or dark, outside of the context of a musical work. Indeed it is certainly
a context unto itself. Maynard Ferguson successfully recorded both MacArthur
Park and The Way We Were, however few would dispute that his sound is both
bright and piercing.
I am going to venture a guess here and state that a bright sound is one which
has a larger number of significant harmonics. I was told by one of the trumpet players
that it was much easier to produce a brighter sound higher in the trumpet's range,
and a trumpet has fewer harmonics as it goes up in its range, much as a trombone
or any other instrument you care to mention. Thus I will guess that the darker sound
will have more harmonics than it's brighter neighbor.
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