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Electronic Music Distribution is in need of robust and automatically extracted music descriptors. An important attribute of a piece of polyphonic music is what is commonly referred to as "the way it sounds". While there has been a large quantity of research done to model the timbre of individual instruments, little work has been done to analyze "real world" timbre mixtures such as the ones found in popular music. In this paper, we present our research about such "polyphonic timbres". We describe an effective way to model the textures found in a given music signal, and show that such timbre models provide new solutions to many issues traditionally encountered in music signal processing and music information retrieval. Notably, we describe their applications for music similarity, segmentation and pattern induction.