What Makes It Sound Like Christmas?

In so many cases, when we’re wondering “what makes it sound ____?” where ____ is Christmas, or metal, or Irish, or whatever, the answer lies not so much in the harmonies, but the timbres. Timbre is probably the most immediate aspect of our musical experience. Why shortchange it in our analyses?

Analyzing timbre

I’ve removed this post, which was from 2016 (!), because my approach to timbre has evolved a lot. Readers should check out my MTO article instead, which was published in 2020. You can find more publications (all of which was published later than this blog post) on my Research page.