Terminology

Arrangement
The order in which the integral parts of a song happen e.g. verse, followed by bridge or pre-chorus, chorus or refrain, middle section, etc.

Backline
The equipment you use as a band – guitars, amplifiers, drums etc.

Bounce
Creating a new piece of audio from one or more existing tracks, for example to commit effects permanently or to create a single stereo mix of 12 backing vocal tracks.

BPM Beats per minute (see Tempo).

Cans
Another name for headphones.

Click Track
A rhythmical beat for playing along to.

Composite¬†(‘comp’)
Recording multiple takes of an instrument or voice, picking the best parts from each and joining them together.

Compressor
An automatic volume control. Makes loud bits quieter!

Contiguous
Contiguous audio regions are regions which are from the same take which have not been moved – ie to make a single cut in one whole audio file creates two contiguous regions – if you then move one region and leave the other where it is they become non-contiguous regions.

Crossfade
This is where two or more audio files play one after the other, but as one fades out the other fades in so there is no ‘gap’. If two non-contiguous audio regions are put together without crossfades they cause a clicking sound.

DAW
Digital Audio Workstation. A term used to describe software based recording systems like Pro Tools, Logic, and Cubase.

DI
Short for Direct Injection. The method of plugging in a guitar or keyboard straight into the mixing console, usually with the use of a DI box.

Diction
The style of enunciation in speaking or singing.

Double Track
Recording one take of an instrument or vocal and recording a take on another track with a matching performance. This is used to thicken the sound and often provide stereo width. Used a lot on rhythm guitars and vocals.

Drop In
Putting the recording machine into record whilst it is playing already.

Drop Out
Taking the recording machine out of record whilst still leaving it running.

Echo/Delay
An effect which repeats the original sound, and which can keep repeating and eventually die out.

Editing
A process where audio files can be separated and moved around. E.g. parts can be spliced on the beats and moved into precise time for very tight sounding performances.

Effects
Generic term for echoes, delays, reverbs, flange , chorus etc.

EQ
Short for equalisation. Used to control ‘tone’ through boosting or cutting bass, treble, middle etc.

Flange & Chorus
This is a very short echo or delay but the ‘effected’ signal is varied in pitch very quickly (modulated).

Linear/Non-Linear recording
Linear recording applies to tape machines (both analog and digital), where the audio is recorded in the place in which it is to be used. Non-linear recording applies to software-based recording and some hard disk recorders, where the moving of audio is possible.

Loop
A section of rhythm or music that plays on repeat.

Mastering
The process which takes place after a mix has been completed, but before manufacturing the final product. EQ and dynamics are applied to bring the recording up to an overall sound which is comparable to commercially released products.

MIDI
Short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A protocol for transmitting musical information.

Mixing
The art, and it is an art, of blending all the sounds recorded – adding any effects and creating a stereo recording from which others can be made.

Monitors
The speakers in a studio are audio monitors. Computer screens are visual monitors.

Noise Gate
A device which automatically senses when the level of an instrument reaches a low or high level and then automatically shuts down or lets the sound out.

Overdub
Recording the same instrument twice but playing a different part – eg if the same guitarist plays a rhythm track then a solo over the top.

Pan
A control which allows an instrument to appear on the left or right channel or somewhere in between.

Patch
Taking an audio signal and routing all or part of it somewhere else, for example via the mixing desk using patch leads and a patch bay.

Plugin
A secondary piece of software which runs inside your DAW. Used for processing audio, e.g. an EQ plugin would perform the same function as the desk EQ section.

Polyrhythmic
A song with multiple different tempos.

Producing
The art of controlling the overall sound and direction a particular work of art takes – a producer is to music what a director is to film. NB producing and mixing are not the same thing – a producer could not even be present during mixing.

Quantise
The term for putting a recording into strict timing.

Rendering
Applying certain types of processing to create a new audio file

Reverb
Similar to an echo, but with a complex pattern of repeats. Clap your hands in church or a big hall and what you hear afterwards is the reverberation of the room.

Take
Term for a recording of a single performance, to record the same thing again would be another take.

Tempo
The speed of a track measured in beats per minute (BPM).

Trigger
A facility where a sound or MIDI note can be used via a converter to play another sound.

Velocity
The strength or loudness with which a MIDI note is played.

Virtual Instrument
A plugin with the facility to generate sound when fed with a source, usually MIDI.

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