Characterizing Subtle Timbre Effects of Drum Strokes Played with Different Technique

Francesco Bigoni, Michael Grossbach, Sofia Dahl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review


In instrumental playing, musicians control sound characteristics such as loudness and timbre. While the many years of training for professional musicians ensure that most changes in timbre are intentional, others arise from changes in playing position, technique applied, or timing (Danielsen et. al 2015). Although subtle, such changes in timbre may still be heard and add to the quality of the performance, also for brief, percussive sounds. Drum strokes where the drumstick is allowed to freely rebound from the drum head – “normal” strokes – appear to have different audible quality compared to “controlled” strokes, where a player restrains the stick from freely moving up after the hit (Dahl & Altenmüller, 2008). Although audible, these differences in timbre are not always captured by features traditionally used such as log attack time and temporal centroid. An additional problem is the brevity of percussive sounds, making the use of those descriptors that require frame-based processing (e.g. spectral flux, spectral contrast) difficult (Bigoni & Dahl, 2018). In this context, it is crucial to identify the signal phases (e.g. attack vs. decay or transient vs. steady-state) in a way that is perceptually relevant and meaningful for drum sounds. The goal of this study is to evaluate whether audio descriptors that capture characteristics of the transient part of the waveform differ between Normal and Controlled strokes. Similar to Danielsen et al. (2015), we define this transient part to occur between the onset and the temporal centroid of each stroke, but we also separate the initial attack.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Timbre (Timbre 2020), online conference.
Number of pages4
Place of PublicationThessaloniki, Greece
PublisherAristotle University of Thessaloniki
Publication dateSept 2020
ISBN (Electronic)78-960-99845-7-7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
Event2nd International Conference on Timbre, online conference. - online, Thessaloniki, Greece
Duration: 3 Sept 20204 Sept 2020


Conference2nd International Conference on Timbre, online conference.
Internet address


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