This word is often used to describe the unique tonal characteristic of a sound you are creating, separate from its pitch or loudness. In a synthesizer, you could very generally say the oscillator is in charge of pitch, the filter is in charge of timbre, and the amplifier is in charge of loudness (although lines are easily blurred – for example, an oscillator’s different waveforms feature differing starter timbres for the filter to work on).
Different sounds, by definition, have different timbres. When you change a parameter of a sound that changes its tonal characteristic – such as changing the filter cutoff, pulse width, amount of wavefolding, etc. – you are changing its timbre. The timbre often changes during life of a note – from a bright initial attack to a mellow decay into silence (or the opposite, if you so desire).
In short: you, my friend, as a synthesist, are a timbral alchemist.« Back to Glossary Index