overtone


overtone
/oh"veuhr tohn'/, n.
1. Music. an acoustical frequency that is higher in frequency than the fundamental.
2. an additional, usually subsidiary and implicit meaning or quality: an aesthetic theory with definite political overtones.
[1865-70; trans. of G Oberton. See OVER-, TONE]
Syn. 2. insinuation, suggestion, intimation, hint.

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In acoustics, a faint higher tone contained within almost any musical tone.

A body producing a musical pitch
such as a taut string or a column of air within the tubular body of a wind instrument
vibrates not only as a unit but simultaneously also in sections, resulting in the presence of a series of overtones within the fundamental tone (i.e., the one identified as the actual pitch). Harmonics are a series of overtones resulting when the partial vibrations are of equal sections (e.g., halves, thirds, fourths). Partials are nonharmonic overtones
that is, tones the frequencies of which lie outside the harmonic series. Overtones contribute greatly to the timbre of a given sound source, even though few listeners are aware of hearing any pitch except the fundamental. There are a few rare examples of the human voice creating overtones, notably in the chants of the Tibetan monks and the songs of the Tuvan throat singers. The latter can sometimes produce two overtones.

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      in acoustics, tone sounding above the fundamental tone when a string or air column vibrates as a whole, producing the fundamental, or first harmonic. If it vibrates in sections, it produces overtones, or harmonics. The listener normally hears the fundamental pitch clearly; with concentration, overtones may be heard.

      Harmonics are a series of overtones resulting when the frequencies are exact multiples of the fundamental frequency. The frequencies of the upper harmonics form simple ratios with the frequency of the first harmonic (e.g., 2:1, 3:1, 4:1). In the case of ideal stretched strings and air columns, higher harmonics result when the full length of the vibrating medium is divided into more and more equal parts.

      Some musical (music) instruments (musical instrument)—among them those whose sounds result from the vibration of metal, wood, or stone bars (e.g., marimbas or xylophones); of cylinders (e.g., orchestral chimes); of plates (e.g., cymbals); or of membranes (e.g., drums)—produce nonharmonic overtones—that is, the frequencies of the overtones are not multiples of the fundamental frequency.

      Musical timbre, or tone colour, is affected by the particular overtones favoured by a given instrument. The “woody” sound of the clarinet comes from its emphasis on low-frequency odd harmonics, whereas the more nasal sound of the oboe comes from the presence of all harmonics and a greater emphasis on the higher frequencies.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • overtone — overtone, undertone Both words denote an extra layer of meaning or significance seen in a word or statement. An overtone, which is also commonly used in the plural overtones, suggests subtle additional meaning (and corresponds roughly to the… …   Modern English usage

  • Overtone — O ver*tone , n. [A translation of G. oberton. See {Over}, {Tone}.] (Mus.) One of the harmonics faintly heard with and at a higher frequency than a fundamental tone as it dies away, produced by some aliquot portion of the vibrating sting or column …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • overtone — index implication (inference), innuendo, intimation, suggestion Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • overtone — (n.) 1867, in literal sense, from OVER (Cf. over) + TONE (Cf. tone) (n.); a loan translation of Ger. Oberton, first used by German physicist Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (1821 1894) as a contraction of Overpartialton upper partial tone …   Etymology dictionary

  • overtone — [n] implication, hint association, connotation, flavor, inference, innuendo, intimation, meaning, nuance, sense, suggestion, tone, undercurrent, undertone; concept 278 …   New thesaurus

  • overtone — ► NOUN 1) a musical tone which is a part of the harmonic series above a fundamental note, and may be heard with it. 2) a subtle or subsidiary quality, implication, or connotation …   English terms dictionary

  • overtone — [ō′vər tōn΄] n. [transl. of Ger oberton, contr. < oberpartialton, upper partial tone] 1. Acoustics Music any of the attendant higher tones heard with a fundamental tone produced by the vibration of a given string or column of air, having a… …   English World dictionary

  • Overtone — Overtones redirects here. For other uses, see Overtones (disambiguation). An overtone is any frequency higher than the fundamental frequency of a sound. The fundamental and the overtones together are called partials. Harmonics are partials whose… …   Wikipedia

  • overtone — UK [ˈəʊvə(r)ˌtəʊn] / US [ˈoʊvərˌtoʊn] noun [countable] Word forms overtone : singular overtone plural overtones a quality or feature that is noticeable but not obvious a book with political overtones …   English dictionary

  • overtone — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ strong ▪ a play with strong religious overtones ▪ serious ▪ negative ▪ The word ‘cheap’ has negative overtones …   Collocations dictionary

  • overtone — virštonis statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. higher harmonic; overtone vok. Oberton, m rus. обертон, m pranc. note harmonique, f; son harmonique, m …   Fizikos terminų žodynas


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