Timbrality : the vibrant aesthetics of color

van Elferen, Isabella (2021) Timbrality : the vibrant aesthetics of color. In: Dolan, Emily I. and Rehding, Alexander, (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Timbre. Oxford, U.K. : Oxford University Press. pp. 69-91. (Oxford Handbooks) ISBN 9780190637224


Timbre is both an unstable object and an ungraspable Kantian thing-in-itself: in fact, it resides in the space between those opposites. A theory of timbre, therefore, has to be inclusive rather than dualist: tone color bridges the gap between material origins and immaterial effects of musical sonority, and with that, the gap between the realism and the idealism informing music epistemological debates. This chapter aims to achieve such theoretical inclusiveness. It links timbral ontology and phenomenology by way of vibratory acoulogy and vital materialism. It argues that timbre is a vibration of sound waves crossing over from instruments to our listening bodies, and that the energy carried by those vibrating sound waves can be theorized as an affectively powerful vitality interacting with musical assemblages of humans and non-humans.

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