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Bright vs Dark

Likely the most widely used descriptive terms for timbre, they have a similar meaning in reference to sound as they do when they’re used to talk about visual color. Generally speaking, a Bright instrument will likely be more ear catching and intense. A Dark instrument (sometimes called Warm) by contrast will likely be more subtle and deep. Speaking technically, bright sounds are made up of more high frequency content, whereas dark sounds have more dominant mid and low frequencies.

Focused vs Open

A Focused tone will be more direct and forward sounding. An Open tone might be perceived as slightly more internal or broad sounding. This is often most easily thought of using vowel sounds. A focused tone sounds like when we say “EE” or “Eh” whereas an open tone sounds more similar to “OO” or “Oh.”

Pure vs Vibrant

What we’re referring to as Vibrance is sometimes called sparkle, sizzle, spin, or just simply color. What it amounts to is prominent overtone content in the sound. This is most noticeable when utilizing vibrato. A Pure instrument has less of these active overtones and is sometimes referred to as clean. Both sound qualities can be desirable, It just comes down to personal preference.

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