Timbre is the quality of sound an instrument makes. The sound an instrument makes is effected by several things like the materials it is made from and how it’s played.
Have a watch of video 1 above. Can you recognise the instruments being played? Charlotte uses a glockenspiel, bells, egg shaker, triangle and a recorder. In video 2: a clarinet, harmonica, ukulele, Kalimba and pan pipes are used. Can you draw any of these instruments, label what they are made from and describe how you play them? Maybe you can also think of words to describe how they sound – their timbre.
What sounds can you hear around you? Listen really carefully and you’ll be amazed at what you can hear: traffic, people's voices, typing, nature, birds, phones. Make a list of the sounds you hear over the period of 10 seconds. Next, make up a symbol for each of the sounds you heard and draw them on your timeline. This way of drawing sound is called a graphic score. Can you perform your score making up the sounds with you voice?
Foley sound effects in films
Did you know that people have jobs making up sounds to use in movies? Watch this video to learn about how they do it then have a go at creating your own foley sounds at home.
What sounds can you make using your body? This is body percussion. Take a look at Ollie Tunmer’s video for Beat Goes On and try out some tutorials. Slapping thighs, clapping hands, clicking fingers and stamping feet all create a different sound. Make up your own patterns using a combination of these. Link to Ollie’s video’s…
The different groups of instruments in an orchestra create different sounds. This video explores them in a child friendly way.
Make your own instruments
Experiment making sounds on different objects found around the home. Try tapping table tops and cupboards, cups and pans etc. Which make a higher/lower sound when tapped? Does it make a difference if you use different utensils? (wooden spoon/metal spoon etc). This would lead nicely into making instruments out of found objects such as those in the table below.
Way of playing
Empty or part filled bottles (plastic or glass)
Tapping with some kind of beater, blowing across the top or shaking (if filled with rice or beans etc.)
Plastic containers or other containers with ridges along their length
Scrape the ridges with a ruler or knitting needle
Rulers and other flexible 'tongues'
Hold them on the edge of a table or desk and ‘twang’ them. Change the amount overlapping the table in order to change the pitch
Plastic bottles designed to dispense in small amounts e.g. baby bath liquid
Squeeze the bottle to force air through the small opening
Cover with greaseproof paper and play like a kazoo - buzzing your lips on it