Everyone That Works With Audio Should Know This Stuff! (Timbre & Harmonics)

I'm a sucker for hand-drawn videos like this

You should be able to explain to anyone, in common sense terms, why a piano sounds different from a flute even though they are playing the same exact pitch.

Once you understand the concepts of timbre and the fundamentals of harmonic series mathematics (not as scary as it sounds), I promise you that your sound design and/or music production will reach a new level.

There’s a certain confidence that comes with knowing how to stack basic waveforms to obtain a desired result.  You don’t have to know exactly what is going to happen, but you should have some idea about the possibilities.

This knowledge can make the difference between random, aimless noodling and directed experimentation that renders intentional results.

I recently happened upon this video which does a great job at describing the basic mechanics of sound in a way that couples math with common sense.  It’s a bit like Miranda July learned about the physics of sound and directed a hip short film about it.

I especially like the focus on and definition of timbre, something that I harp on over and over again in my Ableton tutorials.  This video is in many ways the perfect compliment to that material, so please consider it recommended viewing.

Here’s the video:

Everyone That Works With Audio Should Know This Stuff! (Timbre & Harmonics) by

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6 Responses to “Everyone That Works With Audio Should Know This Stuff! (Timbre & Harmonics)”

  1. Robert KruegerSeptember 3, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    My brain exploded. That was fast, relentless, and very cool…



    • NickSeptember 3, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

      Glad you liked it, she’s a very talented presenter!

  2. Raffa JaffaSeptember 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    so cute …..i loved it

  3. Anthony ArroyoSeptember 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Wow, this is super rad, man! Thanks for hipping me to this. RT as we speak.

    • NickSeptember 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

      My pleasure, Anthony 🙂 Thanks for the RT!

  4. digitaljokerFebruary 12, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    It’s a pitty it’s not in spanish… because it is an amazing documentary!
    Thank you Nick.

    Jason told me about you (musicsoftwaretraining)


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