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C4DM Seminar: Kai Siedenburg - Conceptual and empirical perspectives on the "wastebasket" of timbre

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Date and Time
Wednesday, 13th September 2017, at 4:00pm

Room LG 1, G O Jones Building, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS. Information on how to access the school can be found at

Kai Siedenburg

Conceptual and empirical perspectives on the "wastebasket" of timbre


If there is one thing about timbre that researchers in music psychology and acoustics agree on, it is the claim that it is a poorly defined auditory attribute. To cite Al Bregman, timbre is an “ill-defined wastebasket category”. In this talk, I will introduce four conceptual distinctions that may help to clear up some of the confusion around this parameter and present empirical studies relevant to these matters. This includes new work on the acoustic modeling of timbre dissimilarity perception, timbre discrimination, and musical instrument identification.

Kai Siedenburg studied Mathematics and Musicology at Humboldt University Berlin and as a Fulbright visiting student at the University of California, Berkeley. He obtained his PhD in Music Technology from McGill University, Montreal. Since 2016, he is postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oldenburg, Germany and a 2018/19 Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow. Kai studies how people perceive and recognize sounds, process and parse complex musical scenes, and come to judgements about sound quality. He uses methods from psychophysics, audio signal processing, and computational modeling.


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