Visualizing 1980s timbres
Current research lacks consensus on a detailed definition of timbre, complicating analytical techniques and discourse (Krumhansl 1989; Malloch 1997; Siedenburg and McAdams 2017). This thesis develops a methodology that relates timbral qualities to textural function in 1980s popular music. It adapts previous methods of analysis by applying a system of timbral binaries to Allan Moore’s textural functions (Cogan 1984; Lavengood 2017, 2019, 2020; Moore 2012). Lavengood uses binaries to describe spectrograms of individual synthesizer presets. This research builds on her methodology by applying the analysis of spectrograms to timbres in full textures after the mixing and mastering process. Furthermore, this paper analyzes sounds from acoustic instruments and electroacoustic instruments in addition to synthesized sounds. It compares timbral trends in 1980s synthesizers, drum machines, and the wailing electric guitar with their acoustic analogs. Finally, this thesis explores the resurgence of these timbres in popular music released since 2010.