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Twang is an onomatopoeia originally used to describe the sound of a vibrating bow string after the arrow is released.[1] By extension, it applies to the similar vibration produced when the string of a musical instrument is plucked, and similar sounds. The term came to be applied to a nasal vocal resonation, and was historically used to describe "a disagreeable resonance".[1] Later, however, the term came to be more broadly associated with regional dialects, to the extent that in some locations, "a twang is a desirable commodity".[2]

Specific uses of the term include:

  • A particular sharp vibrating sound characteristic of some electric guitars.
  • A high frequency singing sound especially affected by country singers. It allows for a higher vocal reach than would be possible using the standard guttural technique and can be used as an alternative to falsetto singing. Willie Nelson almost always sings with a twang voice.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hensleigh Wedgwood, A Dictionary of English Etymology: Q - Z (1865), p. 433.
  2. ^ Jim Tushinski, Jim Van Buskirk, Identity Envy Wanting to Be Who We're Not: Creative Nonfiction by Queer Writers (2014), p. 27.