ADSR--[also see ENVELOPE] Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release
AFTERTOUCH--A MIDI message generated by further pressure on a key
that is already depressed--often, vibrato, or some other sound
ALIASING / FOLDOVER--Distortion caused in digital synthesis when
frequencies higher than 1/2 the sample rate are created. (They fold
over, or generate lower frequencies, which are usually not
ALPHANUMERIC--Any member of the set of all numbers, letters, and
other characters used by the computer (the computer keyboard).
AMPLIFIER--A device which controls the volume or loudness of a
AMPLITUDE--[also see INTENSITY] Technically, amplitude is the
distance between the rest position and the farthest point to which
an object, such as a vibrating string, moves (displacement
amplitude), or to the maximum increase of air pressure in a sound
wave (pressure amplitude). Amplitude is the size of the
vibration. As amplitude increases, so does the perceived volume or
loudness of a sound signal.
AMPLITUDE MODULATION (AM)--A variance of the amplitude of one
signal (the carrier) in accordance with the frequency and amplitude
of a second signal (the program).
ANALOG--Represents events that are recorded as continuous, as
opposed to digital, where events are recorded as discrete
steps or numbers. Example: a wristwatch with hands would
be analog, whereas an LED/LCD watch with only number readings would
be digital. In terms of recording, an analog recording uses
voltages to represent acoustical vibrations that are normally
recorded as a corresponding series of magnetic fluctuations on tape.
ANALOG-TO-DIGITAL CONVERTER (ADC)--[also see DAC] A device
capable of converting an analog signal into a series of digital
values representing the signal, such as a sampler.
ATTACK--The initial onset of a sound.
ATTENUATOR--[also see POT] A device that controls the strength of
some parameter of a signal.
AUDIO-FREQUENCY RANGE--The range of frequencies perceived by
humans as sound: from roughly 16-20 Hz to 20 kHz.
CHANNEL--One track of a tape recorder; one of 16 lines of MIDI
CHORUS EFFECT--Combining the main signal with several delayed
versions of the signal. It replicates the effect of a chorus singing
a single note providing a fuller sound.
CLICK TRACK--A click sound used as an aid in synchronizing
material to be recorded.
CONTROL MESSAGES--A particular type of input data generated by by
devices such as: a foot pedal, control wheel, joy stick,
control slider, pitch bend, portamento and many others.
CONTROLLER--A synthesizer module or function which controls some
aspect of another module or function; a keyboard is a controller.
DAISY CHAIN--Connecting two or more synthesizers or other
electronic devices, enabling one (the master) to control the others
DAT RECORDER--(Digital Audio on Tape) A recorder which encodes
acoustic audio signals digitally.
DECAY--A brief decrease in amplitude immediately after the
DECIBEL (dB)--A standard unit of loudness; 1/10th of a Bel (named
after Alexander Graham Bell). Example: threshold of hearing =
0 dB; normal conversation = 60 dB;
threshold of pain = 130 dB.
DEFAULT--A standard or start-up condition.
DIGITAL--Events are recorded as discrete steps or numbers, as
opposed to analog, where events are recorded as
continuous. Using numbers
(digital) to represent acoustical vibrations which are measured at
equal intervals of time.
DIGITAL-TO-ANALOG CONVERTER (DAC)--[also see ADC] Used to convert
digital information into analog voltages.
DIGITAL DELAY--A device that creates effects based on varying the
number and amplitude of, and time between, the echoes of a signal.
DIRECT BOX--[also see PHANTOM POWER] A device which enables, for
example, an electric guitar to be connected directly to a mixing
console, accomplished by lowering the guitar's impedance level (to
avoid electrical hum).
DISC--Storage medium for music or video information.
DISK--Computer storage medium, usually 3.5".
EDITING--Altering previously-recorded data.
EFFECTS--Echo, Chorus, Digital Delay, Reverb and other
modifications produced by passing a sound or audio signal through an
ENVELOPE--[also see ADSR] The amplitude history of a sonic
event. ADSR describes only four points of the envelope.
The more points that can be defined ... the more accurate the
FADER--A potentiometer (pot) or slider that varies the value of
some parameter or signal.
FREQUENCY--[also see PITCH] The number of cycles/vibrations per
a waveform, usually measured in Hertz (Hz). Frequency is an
acoustical property of sound and can be measured by laboratory
FREQUENCY MODULATION (FM)--A variation in the frequency of one
signal caused by another, often periodic, signal. FM produces many
more sidebands than AM.
GENERAL MIDI--A recent addition to the MIDI specification which
ensures that a sequence created on one MIDI instrument will sound
relatively the same on another. This includes a table of 128
instrument sounds grouped into families.
HARMONIC--A sine wave component of a complex waveform. Also
sometimes called partial.
HERTZ (Hz)--The unit of measurement of frequency equal to one
cycle of a periodic waveform per second (vibrations per second).
(K = thousand. 3 KHz = 3,000 Hz)
.HTML--HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, the
standard for describing the contents and appearance of pages on the
World Wide Web. HTML consists of pairs of opening and closing tags,
with attributes and values in between. The tags describe each
element on a Web page, such as a paragraph of text, a table, or an
IMPEDANCE--Resistance to AC current, measured in ohms.
Professional microphones and other studio equipment use low
impedance which allows long cable runs (v. high impedance).
INTENSITY--[also see AMPLITUDE] The amount of power in a sound,
which is directly related to the amplitude of the vibration. Volume
and loudness are used somewhat interchangeably to indicate
intensity. Intensity is normally measured in decibels, an objective
laboratory measurement, whereas loudness is a subjective perception
on the part of the hearer. Lower frequencies typically require an
increase in intensity, or volume, to be perceived as sounding at the
same intensity level as mid-range frequencies.
INTERFACE--A device or point where two or more instruments or
procedures meet and communicate.
LOOP--A method of recording or playback whereby a specified
number of measures repeat.
MICROCOMPUTER--Either an entire computer system on a single chip,
or a small computer consisting of microprocessor and associated
chips; a personal computer.
MICROPROCESSOR--The central processing unit of a microcomputer.
.MID--The MIDI file type (.mid) is not an actual sound file but
simply information about a musical performance that instructs your
computer's sound card what to do to recreate the performance.
Since the sounds are generated from the sound card, the files are
normally quite small. On the down side, sound quality is not
nearly as good as a .wav file, for example.
MIDI--Musical Instrument Digital Interface. There are 16
MIDI channels. The first
document detailing the new MIDI technology was MIDI 1.0
Specification (August 1983). Companies involved in the
development of the technology were: Kawai, Korg, Roland,
Sequential Circuits and Yamaha.
MIDI IN--Port which receives MIDI information from another
MIDI OUT--Port which transmits MIDI information to another
MIDI THRU--Port which retransmits MIDI information to
another source; used in chaining.
MODULATION WHEEL / JOYSTICK--A manual controller normally used to
regulate the amount of periodic fluctuation that can be introduced
to the pitch of a tone (vibrato). May be a joystick.
MONOPHONIC--One sound. Monophonic synthesizers only allow one key
on a music keyboard, or one signal path, to be active at a time.
MP3--technically, "MP3-1 Audio Layer 3," as so-dubbed
by the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG). The short answer
is that MP3 is a file compression technique that reduces sound files
to about one-tenth of their original size. All the
sounds are stored as numbers. MP3 removes any numbers
representing sounds beyond the range of human hearing. While
MP3 files aren't "exactly" the same quality as a CD audio
file, they come pretty close.
MUTE--A switch or control that zeroes out or turns off the audio
from a specified track.
NYQUIST THEOREM--Signals with frequencies up to a little less
than half the sample rate can be sampled without distortion. That
is, the sampling rate must be at least twice the number of cycles of
vibration per second of the highest recorded frequency in order to
accurately represent the sound without distortion.
OVERDUB / SOUND ON SOUND--The addition of material to a track
after the initial recording.
OVERWRITE--Erases previously-recorded material and substitutes
the newly-recorded material.
PAN--The stereo field from left to right.
PARAMETER--A variable; some aspect or characteristic of musical
time or space which may be identified and used to control or
articulate the flow of music.
PATCH--The voice-name/location (bank, instrument number) of a
particular synthesizer sound.
PHANTOM POWER--Power from a mixer that is obtained from the cable
which connects the direct box to the mixer. If the direct box does
not require power, it is called a passive direct box.
PITCH--[also see FREQUENCY] A musical term for a note or tone.
Pitch is what is perceived of the frequency and is a
PITCH BEND--Manual alteration of the pitch of a note through use
of a pitch bend device (usually a wheel or joystick).
PLUG TYPES--Be able to recognize: phone plug (stereo or mono),
phono plug (RCA), mini phone plug, 3-pin XLR/Cannon, 5-pin DIN
(MIDI). (Diagrams in text.)
POLYPHONIC--Many sounds. Music keyboards which may control more
than one signal path at a time.
POTENTIOMETER (POT)--[also see ATTENUATOR] A variable resistor
used to control amplitude and other signal characteristics.
PPQ or PPQN--Pulses Per Quarter Note. A division of the timing
QUANTIZATION--The production of a series of discrete (separate)
values, as opposed to a continuous function. As applied to rhythm,
it refers to error correction with regard to attack point and/or
RELEASE--When the instrument stops producing a sound.
SAMPLE--A numerical value representing a voltage. The more
samples per second, the more accurately an analog signal may be
digitally stored and reproduced.
SEQUENCER--A device, or software, which allows recording and
playback of music keyboard information. In a MIDI environment,
sequencers handle a wide range of MIDI data, and are not restricted
to keyboards and note data.
SMPTE TIME CODE--Developed by the Society of Motion Picture &
Television Engineers (SMPTE), this is the standard code used to
synchronize sight and sound.
SPLIT POINT--The point at which the synthesizer keyboard is
divided into different timbral regions. This point is adjustable.
STEP RECORDING--The sequencing of material one event at a time,
with duration being specified rather than a function of real-time
SUSTAIN--The amplitude during the middle portion of the envelope
just prior to its release.
SYNTHESIZER--A set of electronic modules or devices used for the
generation and modification of sound.
TOUCH SENSITIVITY--The ability of a MIDI keyboard or other
controller to produce or respond to velocity information based on
how hard or quickly keys are struck.
TRACK--A channel on a tape recorder or sequencer; one of a set of
concentric circles on a floppy disk.
TWAIN--TWAIN is a standard for the application program interface
(API) between image input devices (such as scanners) and
applications which control the image input devices.
Using a TWAIN-compliant application and a TWAIN-compliant scanner
with a TWAIN-compliant driver enables the users to operate any
scanner in the same manner.
TWEAKING--Experimenting with a controller, a.k.a., fooling around
with the knobs to adjust some parameter.
UNINSTALL--To remove an installed software program (duh!).
If a program offers an uninstall option, take it if that is
what you are trying to do! Check by going to Start, then
Programs, then check on the application itself. If there is no
uninstall applet there, go to Start, then Settings, then Control
Panel, then Add/Remove Software to see if the application is listed
in this location. If not, the program will need to be
uninstalled manually. Manually uninstalling a program involves
removing the program via Start, Programs list, and removing the
directory from the hard drive. Manual uninstall will usually
leave files on the hard drive that the install program puts in other
.WAV--Files with the .wav extension typically are Microsoft
Windows uncompressed PCM (pulse code modulation) audio files.
Windows PCM is the best format to use in most cases, however, the
file size is generally very large. Windows PCM is the Windows
standard format, and almost all applications can use it. It is
uncompressed, so the full quality of your audio will be preserved.
Also, when burning audio CD's, you will want to use this format
(specifically, a Windows PCM wave file that is 16-bit, stereo, and
has a sample-rate of 44.1 kHz).
WAVE FORM--One means of describing an electrical signal or sound
pressure by showing how the amplitude of the signal varies over
WIDGET--A knob, slider, meter, etc.
.WMA--Windows Media Audio file, developed by Microsoft.
Like MP3 files, WMA files compress information. WMA files also
have the ability to program the file so it cannot be copied.
WMA file sizes can be significantly smaller (50%) than even the
compressed MP3 files.