When it comes to music, you will often come across treble, along with mid-range and bass. But do you know what treble in music actually is?
In this article, we will talk about what treble is and take a brief look at mid-range and bass too. This way, you’ll know the difference between all three! So, let’s get started.
What is Treble? When it comes to music, treble refers to the highest sound frequency, generally ranging between 6KHz and 20KHz. Increasing the sensitivity of treble in an audio system produces a more detailed and brighter sound, as it emphasizes the high notes of the tune.
The phrase treble comes from the Latin word triplum, which was used in the 1400s to denote the third and highest range of motets.
What Is Treble in Music?
Types of Treble
There are essentially three kinds of treble in music. These include:
- Vocal Treble: This is what you hear when someone is singing. It’s the highest pitch in a vocal range and can be heard in several rock and pop songs.
- Instrumental Treble: This treble is what you hear in your conventional gospel choir. It adds life to music and makes it sound exciting.
- Electronic Treble:As the name suggests, electronic treble is what you hear in electronic music. The high pitch is generally used to create excitement and energy in the songs.
Examples of Treble in Music
There are several examples of treble in music. If you hear a song and notice sounds like high-pitched notes ringing, that’s treble. Particularly if what you hear sounds like whistling or bells, that’s what treble sounds like in music.
Listen to the start of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” and notice how the high-pitched notes are ringing. This is treble, and it’s the sound that develops your interest in the song.
Now, listen to the start of the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. You will notice that what sounds like ringing bells is actually the treble in the song. This sound sets the tone for the rest of the track and adds a playful touch to it.
Role of Treble in Music
Treble, also referred to shrill or high music, is what many people think of as “high pitched.” The sound range is higher than what we usually hear in our daily life.
This encompasses instruments like clarinets, trumpets, and many other brass instruments. It even entails most woodwinds, like saxophones and flutes. However, certain woodwinds, like contrabassoons and bassoons, don’t generally play in the treble.
Treble’s role is to offer a light, airy, and beautiful sound to the music. It generally offers music with accents, counter melodies, and the melody line.
Treble makes the music in an orchestra or band sound energetic and lively. This can particularly be seen when treble contrasts with bass instruments.
The Importance of Treble in Music
Treble is what makes music sound clear and beautiful. It lets the listener appreciate the different parts of the song. If there was no treble, the music would sound indistinguishable and muddled.
Treble is also what lets the music be heard. If certain instruments are playing more softly than others, the treble is going to make sure that the listener is able to hear what’s being played.
Treble also offers a counter-melody to the bass. It adds a sense of balance to the bass and makes it more enjoyable and interesting to listen to.
Difference Between Bass, Mid-Range, and Treble
Bass, mid-range, and treble are all used to boost or cut specific sound frequencies from your speaker.
As we mentioned above, treble relates to frequencies between 6KHz and 20KHz. Conversely, bass corresponds to frequencies going up to 150 Hz. The mid-range bass ranges between 200Hz to 5KHz.
Bass is completely different from treble. Treble is the highest point of a frequency range, whereas bass is the lowest. It represents human voices, pianos, and keyboards, all of which can create low bass notes.
In an equalizer, increasing the bass to its maximum value lets users feel the pounding bassline of a song. It makes walls and furniture rattle, particularly when coupled with hip-hop and EDM music genres. Nevertheless, too much bass can make a mix muddy and undefined.
Bass produces bigger and slower vibrations (ghost tones), whereas treble produces smaller and faster vibrations (overtones). Each note in between treble and bass is called middle, or just mid.
Turning up an equalizer mid knob emphasizes the notes that lie in the middle sound spectrum.
What Are the Perfect Treble Settings?
The perfect treble settings depend on what kind of music you listen to. For instance, if you listen to classical music, you’ll want to set the treble a little higher than if you were listening to rock music.
This is because different kinds of music require different kinds of treble. Classical music generally has plenty of high notes, which need to be heard clearly.
Conversely, rock music will have lower notes and not too many high ones. This means that you can set the treble a little softer and will still let you listen to what’s happening.
Regardless of what kind of music you listen to, it’s imperative to ensure that what you’re hearing doesn’t sound tinny. While you can set the treble high, it should never be too high that it overshadows other instruments or becomes unpleasant to listen to.
Does Treble Need to Be Higher than the Bass?
Treble always needs to be higher than bass in a song. Here are some reasons for that:
1. To Listen to the Vocals Clearly
Extremely high bass is going to overpower the sounds of the vocals. This will not be an issue if the song’s instrumental. However, if a song depends largely on the vocals to propagate its message, you might just want to set the bass lower.
2. To Eliminate Mid-Frequency Muddiness
Mid-frequency muddiness in the 400 to 800 Hz frequency range can be a significant problem for music producers. By setting the treble higher than the bass, you won’t only hear the 400 – 800 Hz sounds, thereby getting rid of the muddiness.
3. Balance the Low-End Rumble
Low-end rumble can be very overwhelming. In fact, it can end up destroying the whole song. By keeping the treble higher than the bass, you won’t be facing this problem.
Last Few Words
Now you know what treble is and how it’s different from mid-range and bass, you can freely experiment with your home’s hi-fi system’s equalizer and adapt the levels of each accordingly. Keep in mind, if you have increased the bass too much, it can make the other sounds become obscured. This ends up ruining several songs.
However, if you have set the treble too high, it’ll turn airy and free music into something that’s unlistenable because of how piercing all the high notes now are. The best idea is always to balance. Therefore, adjusting every knob slightly will offer the best listening experience.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.