How many times have you smiled and nodded when somebody used a music term you knew you should have known? Make sure you familiarize yourself with these basic terms…
Fun with terms!
In music technology, each instrument must be set to a different channel in order for you to hear individual instruments. General MIDI allows for 16 MIDI channels. Only the instruments set to a channel will be able to receive the messages assigned to that channel.
A device which allows you to enter or change events into a computer or other digital device. (wind controller, percussion controller, keyboard-synthesizer, keyboard-computer, mouse).
Drum Machine –
A device with buttons that correspond to percussion sounds stored in computer memory. Patterns may be recorded into the memory and played back, or patterns may be played back through a computer.
Reverb Tips Here
The students played the music louder and softer, as indicated by the dynamics written on the music.
An electronic musical device, similar to a piano. A MIDI keyboard can be connected to a computer to record or play music.
Metronome – The ‘click’ generated using a sound on the keyboard or sound module that defines the tempo or speed of a sequence. The metronome can be turned on or off for sequencing and playback, and can also be set to sound a number of beats before a sequence begins.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface, a standard between manufacturers that allows MIDI products to communicate with computers and other MIDI devices. General MIDI Sounds – The standard number of General MIDI sounds is 128, although many keyboards and computers can play many more sounds than this number.
A hardware machine that combines audio signals from different devices and outputs (mixes) them together in mono or stereo. Mixers come in different sizes and the number of channels and audio inputs/outputs available.
An audio signal that changes direction to the left or right speaker in a stereo. More advanced notation or sequencers allow one to set and change the panning direction.
Pitch Bend –
A controller which is applied to a synthesized note, raising or lowering the pitch as one moves the joystick or wheel up and down.
Podcast – (Ms. Garrett’s definition…)
An online audio or video broadcast available for download by a subscriber or visitor to a website.
A process in sequencing that corrects rhythmic inaccuracy in a musical track. The process ’rounds’ the note to the next nearest rhythmic value specified, such as an eighth or sixteenth note. This is especially helpful when recording in ‘real-time’ mode.
Real-Time Recording –
The music records at the same time as you play it into the computer.
Record – To play (record) information on a track in real time, replacing any previously recorded data.
Playing the music backwards, beginning with the last note and ending with the first.
A synthesizer which records sounds from actual external sounds such as instruments or non-musical sounds. The recorded sounds may be edited and used as sounds effects.
A music sequencer is similar to a tape recorder, because it can play, record, fast-forward and rewind music on separate tracks.
Step-Time Mode –
Recording the music into the computer one note at a time.
Synthesizer – an instrument that generates sound by the creation and manipulation of artificial waveforms.
Tone Generator –
A device that can generate tones (sounds) without a piano keyboard. Using a tone generator can add more sounds to your music while saving space and expense of additional keyboards. Newer tone generators are quite portable. Tone generators can also be used with controllers, such as the wind and percussion controllers.
A musical part in a sequence, such as the flute track, or the piano track.
Velocity – the force in which a note is pressed or played (attacked) and released. (i.e., the harder the note is pressed, the louder it will sound.) The range of velocities is 0-127. Some keyboards feature ‘velocity sensitive keys’ and some drum machines and percussion controllers may feature ‘velocity sensitive pads’. Velocity on wind controllers may be controlled by the amount of air stream produced into the instrument.
Vocoder –A vocoder is an audio processor that captures the characteristic elements of an an audio signal and then uses this characteristic signal to affect other audio signals. The technology behind the vocoder effect was initially used in attempts to synthesize speech. The effect called vocoding can be recognized on records as a “talking synthesizer”, made popular by artists such as Stevie Wonder. The basic component extracted during the vocoder analysis is called the formant. The formant describes the fundamental frequency of a sound and its associated noise components.
The vocoder works like this: The input signal (your voice saying “Hello, my name is Fred”) is fed into the vocoder’s input. This audio signal is sent through a series of parallel signal filters that create a signature of the input signal, based on the frequency content and level of the frequency components. The signal to be processed (a synthesized string sound, for example) is fed into another input on the vocoder. The filter signature created above during the analysis of your voice is used to filter the synthesized sound. The audio output of the vocoder contains the synthesized sound modulated by the filter created by your voice. You hear a synthesized sound that pulses to the tempo of your voice input with the tonal characteristics of your voice added to it.
Wave – (Waveform) – The shape of a sound produced by an oscillator that determines the timbre of the sound. Waveforms include sine, pulse, sawtooth, square and triangle waves.
(Sound Wave) – the shape of a sound, which can be described by showing it on a graph. When something vibrates, variations in air pressure create vibrations and are transmitted as a sound wave. Different sounds have different shaped waves.
Learn How to Record Vocals
Wind Controller –
An instrument which is like a woodwind or brass instrument in fingerings. The air stream blown into the controller triggers sounds from a tone generator or synthesizer. Many wind controllers do not produce sounds of their own, and therefore MIDI is used to connect to the tone generating device.