6 Different Types Of Tone Color In Music

Artists use a variety of materials to create a masterpiece. Musicians and composers do the same thing using sounds.

Those interesting sounds are called tone color.

What Exactly is Tone Color?

Tone color is the individual quality of the sound of a voice or instrument.

The word “timbre” is used interchangeably with tone color.  Both terms mean the same thing.

6 Types of Tone Color in Music

Here’s a brief list of a few different types of tone color that we find quite often:

  1. vocal music – music that is sung
  2. a capella – music sung with no instrumental accompaniment
  3. instrumental music – music performed only by instruments
  4. acoustic music – sound that is natural and not amplified electronically
  5. amplified music – making sound louder through electric amplification
  6. electronic music – sounds produced or altered by electronic devices

Why is this Important?

When reading music or selecting a piece to perform, you may run across these terms directly in your music or in the included playing instructions.

Knowing what they mean is useful in understanding what types of sounds the composer had in mind when writing the piece.

In a sense, this gives you a big picture idea of what the music (or final masterpiece) is all about.

If you write music, thinking about tone color may broaden your mind to many creative possibilities.


Tone color gives us those different flavors that keep listeners, performers, and composers excited and actively engaged at all times.

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