From Timbre Modulation Method to Research the Relation Between
Electronic Music and Chinese Musical tradition
Music Composition & Engineering Department
Wuhan Conservatory of Music
Hubei, Wuhan 430060 P.R.China
lencenso@public. wh. hb. cn
The purpose of the treatise is to take the timbre of the electronic music as a research object, from the timbremodulation point of view, through its subsistent way to observe the some connection between electronic music
and orient culture, particularly the Chinese music tradition. Also to probe into the source of its characteristic and
its representation form is my research object.
With a particular sounding media and a special way of the sound synthesize, the electronic music has been
determined on the beginning that it will progress in a quite different way from the traditional 'Acoustics Music'.
(It mainly played by the instruments and by the object vibration, the sound wave synthesis accomplished in the
air). Compare to the traditional 'acoustics music' that emphases on the pitch-relation, the electronic music that
take the sounds synthesized as its vitality has to choose tone color relation as the main way of music expression.
It just shows the conception of oriental music that emphasis is placed on the tone color.
I. The Characteristic of the Timbre
As we known, all kinds of the Chinese traditional musical instruments have their own individual vivid timbre
features. For showing its feature, most of them are suitable for solo or ensemble playing. Pipa, for example, its
sounding is quick and short, the head of sound is sharp. This kind of timbre feature is unsuitable to make up of
the harmony with either same kind of instrument or the unlike one. Only for solo, all of Pipa's charming are able
to come out. The Erhu, for example, since without the limited of fingerplate, the degrees of changing its pitch is
according to the finger's pressure, and this is quite different from the other string instruments like violin. So that
it is disadvantageous to composing the exact and euphonious harmony. That the Chinese traditional aesthetic taste
is help to fully developing the folk instrument's solo ability, but relatively weakening its ensemble capability.
This is the natural selection by the Chinese traditional music history.
For electronic music, its own developing process is a procedure in looking for a new timbre. The vitality of the
electronic music is first of all from its vivid timbre characteristic, even some one call it as "the sound from the
heaven". To discuss its timbre feature, firstly, it should review the timbre bank of the electronic instrument, the
sounding media of the electronic music. Though the timbre of electronic instruments various, but it may be
divided into two main kinds: the emulation and the creation. The former one is to simurate the existent instrument,
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ICMC Proceedings 1999