Friday, October 3, 2014

timber/timbre: The Weekend Edition—Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Friday–Sunday, October 3–5, 2014

You can build a house out of timber, but that quality which distinguishes the sound produced by one instrument or voice from others is timbre, usually pronounced “TAM-bruh,” so the common expression is “vocal timbre.”

The Week's End Extra from the Archives: "Cartel Flip-Flop" (June 19, 2012).

1 comment:

  1. In work with musicologists, ethnomusicologists, music teachers, and the occasional music theorist, I have only been familiar with the pronunciation of timbre's second syllable as [buhr] (i.e. "Brr! It's cold outside!" or "The burrs in the dog's thick coat had to be cut out." Never [bruh]. Is there an alternate pronunciation, and if so, where is it used it as the primary pronunciation?