Abstracts of issue 1/1985 (1)
Timbre: Origins of the Concept
Following the semantic evolution of the French word throughout a number of general and music dictionaries, this paper tends to demonstrate that:
- timbre – as a technical term meaning
“tone-color”, appears for the first time in J.-J.
Rousseau’s contribution in Diderot’s and D’Alembert’s Encyclopedie, which later formed the
author’s Dictionnaire de musique;
- this abstract neologism would not be generally accepted (and adopted or translated into foreign languages) until later in the 19th century, after the musical practice had rendered the concept (and, consequently, the corresponding term) a theoretical equivalent of an operating and, hence, clearly defined musical reality.