ExpressionismAs you’ve discovered by now, timbre is just a fancy word for “tone color,” and that’s where the fun begins! Next, listen to his example of music from the early 20th-century era known as The Second Viennese School. Because timbre is the dominant means of expressing human feelings, melody and rhythm are less critical.
Pierrot LunaireThis is Nacht (night) from a set of songs by Arnold Schoenberg entitled Pierrot Lunaire. Schoenberg was indeed part of the European Expressionist art movement that began before WWI. Moreover, you have likely seen paintings associated with Expressionism, like The Scream by Edvard Munch.
Initially, one might think timbre (aka tone color) in music is difficult to understand. Most people understand that a violin has a different sound than a trombone and this description may be the simplest way of visualizing tone color. However, on a broader scale, timbre can be simply described as an element of music that helps convey meaning to the listener. This contrasts with other expressive elements like rhythm and melody. For instance, imagine the driving beat of Disco that makes you dance, or beautiful melodies in songs that touch your heart. Meanwhile, you’ll discover that a sound’s tone color can inspire your imagination and affect your emotions as we explore its use in the realm of the macabre or mysterious.