Thursday, March 24, 2011: Spring, Part 4
Q: What is ‘color’ in music?
A. Color (used to be called timbre) is simply the way one instrument sounds compared to another. Think ‘flute’ and ‘piano.’ They can play the same notes, the same music, in the same rhythm and speed, but they sound different.
Color is created by the instrument’s material (metal vs wood, for example), the pitch (the same note but one played high and the other low on the piano is a sample), and even the notes that come before and after a passage, not to mention how the sound blends with the other instruments around it.
For an interesting experiment, try to find the same piece of music played on CD, podcast, or YouTube, by two different instruments — a piano and a flute, or a string quartet and an orchestra. Listen to both carefully and notice the differences. Which sound was more satisfying to you?
Then keep an eye out for similar live performances near you, and attend both. What do you notice? oo
Tomorrow: The Little Things that Matter
Welcome, Spring! In observance and celebration of the Spring solstice, Opus Osm has been departing from our usual format to bring you this special week-long series of articles about how to listen to classical music. You may know all about this already. If so, please feel free to add comments (below) or to correct any of our mistakes.
But if you aren’t too sure about what to listen for in classical music … if you don’t quite feel comfortable at a concert … or if you’d like to understand a bit more about what there is to hear in classical music, these articles may be helpful for you.
As always, our intent is to education, entertain, and enlighten people of all backgrounds, nationalities, and experience levels in Czech classical music, opera, and ballet.
Photo Credits: Zuzana Pernicová