The International Conference on Timbre
Timbre poses multifaceted research questions across the scientific spectrum, from hearing and music to psychology and neuroscience, to acoustics and artificial intelligence. Bringing together researchers from these and related fields, the International Conference on Timbre aims to provide a truly interdisciplinary forum for exchanging novel perspectives and forging collaborations across different disciplines to help address challenges in our understanding of timbre from empirical, theoretical, and computational perspectives.
The scientific discourse on timbre has been gaining momentum since the mid 2010s from a diverse set of perspectives, including voice studies, musicology, multisensory perception, and artificial intelligence. No less than three workshops and one conference were organized, and three scientific volumes on timbre were published, independently between 2014 and 2019, reflecting the demand for direct discussions and exchange.
The first small Workshop on Musical Timbre in 2014 occurred at Telecom ParisTech with a focus on music information retrieval applications. This was followed by a meeting at Harvard University in 2015, the focus of which was on musicological issues. The Berlin Interdisciplinary Workshop on Timbre in 2017 at the Federal Institute for Music Research (Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung) first brought together researchers from the diverse fields of science and humanities, specifically musicology, music cognition, cognitive neuroscience, and music information retrieval. This workshop gave rise to the idea of the Timbre: Acoustics, Perception, & Cognition volume in 2019 (Springer) and most of its authors were part of the Berlin lineup. The scope was further expanded with perspectives from fields such as music composition, ethnomusicology, and sound recording at the conference Timbre 2018: Timbre is a Many-Splendored Thing, which received more than 130 paper submissions and was the largest conference on the topic so far, and which we acknowledge as the 1st International Conference of Timbre. Reflecting aspects of this development, the volumes The Oxford Handbook of Timbre and The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music in 2018 (both OUP) featured an ever expanding spectrum of historical, music-theoretical, and ethnomusicological perspectives on timbre.
The International Conference on Timbre channels the momentum with establising a tradition of triennial meetings around timbre, to help forge more solid bonds among the members of the emerging cross-disciplinary community. This website serves as the permanent home for historical records, proceedings, and planning documents and policies related to future editions of the Timbre conference.