A study on the verbal attributes of timbre was conducted in an effort to interpret the dimensional configuration of the similarity spaces of simultaneously sounding wind instrument timbres. In the first experiment, subjects rated 10 wind instrument dyads on eight factorially pure semantic differentials from von Bismarck's (1974a) experiments. Results showed that the semantic differentials failed to differentiate among the 10 timbres. The semantic differential methodology was changed to verbal attribute magnitude estimation (VAME), in which a timbre is assigned an amount of a given attribute. This procedure resulted in better differentiation among the 10 timbres, the first factor including attributes such as heavy, hard, and loud, the second factor involving sharp and complex, a contrast with von Bismarck's results. Results of the VAME analysis separated alto saxophone dyads from all others, but mapped only moderately well onto the perceptual similarity spaces. It was suggested that many of the von Bismarck adjectives lacked ecological validity.


Schaeffer (1968, p. 442)
Hevner (1936, p. 253).
(1936, p. 253).
Hevner (1935, 1936)
Pratt and Doak's (1976)
soothing–exciting is truly synonymous with calm—restless (von Bismarck, 1974a, p. 149);
S. S. Stevens (1951),
(Wilkinson, 1990).
von Bismarck's (1974a) data (Table IV) and explanation (p. 155)
Jakobson, Fant, and Halle (1952)


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