Abstracts of issue 1/1985 (1)

Haris Xanthoudakis

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:
  1. timbre as a technical term meaning tone-color, appears for the first time in J.-J. Rousseaus contribution in Diderots and DAlemberts Encyclopedie, which later formed the authors Dictionnaire de musique;
  2. 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.