When we describe a sound as NoiseA term that describes sounds that have a diffuse spread of spectral energy. It is often contrasted with pitched sounds.More infoNoisy or PitchThe relative height of a sound, ranging from low to high.More infoPitched, we are referring to its timbre. All sounds have a unique timbre, and it is this property of sound that allows us to tell sounds apart.
How many different timbres can you hear in this recording? Try to identify as many as possible.
Listen to these two sound clips of traditional instruments:
An instrument playing the note D2
Listen to the quality of this sound and compare it with the sound below.
A second instrument playing the note D2
Both instruments are playing the same note, but they sound very different.
Did they sound different? In what way?
This example demonstrates to us that there is much more to sound than pitch.
If we are presented with many sounds that have similar timbres then it can be difficult to identify the number of sources.
Think for example of being in a crowded place (a shopping centre or a football stadium) where there are many people talking at once. We no longer hear the individual voices, but a mass sound for the whole crowd.
In this example the many voices blend together into a cacophony of sound. Gradually as the layers of voices thin out we begin to hear more and more details from individual phrases.