Book Definition: The quality of a sound wave that derives from the wave's complexity (combination of pure tones).

In Your Own Words

  • The pattern of sound waves which allows your ear and brain to recognize certain sounds.
  • A pattern of basic sounds.
  • The characteristic of a sound that makes it unique.


  • bark of a dog
  • train whistle
  • sound of musical instruments
  • human voice
  • an explosion
  • the difference between two musical instruments playing the same note
  • you recognizing friends voice on phone.
  • The difference between the sounds of an African swallow or a European swallow making the same pitch

Additional Resources