Recording and Music Terminology

Your Home Studio - a basic tutorial on home recording studio setup, including building a home recording studio, digital recording techniques, computer recording information, recording software information, how to buy equipment for a home recording studio and operating an audio recording studio at home

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Here's the last of the terms. Next month, I'm going to start a series of articles regarding stereo recording techniques.


Subito - A musical term meaning suddenly


Sub-mix - most mixer channels have selection buttons that route the output to the main mix or 2 or more sub-mixes. The buttons can be actuated simultaneously or individually. Also, most recording software packages have sub-mixes that range from only a couple to infinite. The most common use is to be able to raise and lower the level of group of instruments (drum kit or all the guitars, for instance) without having to fiddle with the individual channels. Effects can also be assigned to sub-mixes. This is very effective for compressing background vocals or putting reverb on a drum kit or percussion. A future article will delve into the ins and outs of mixers (pun intended)


Sweep-able Mid - a method for selecting the exact midrange frequency one wishes to cut or boost. One knob controls the amount of cut or boost while the other selects the frequency. Most studio mixers have sweep-able hi and low mids which gives one even more flexib9lity in shaping tones.


Sync - using SMPTE, midi clock or some other synchronizing format to lock two or more recorders, computers and other instruments to a common time clock. One component will be the master with all the others being slaved to it. Pressing play or record on the master will do it for all the other components while keeping it in step with all the others.


Tails Out - the preferred manner to store audio recording tape so that the end of the recording is "tails out". In order to play the tape, it has to be spun to another spool to get to the beginning.


Tape Saturation - Compression and "warmth" resulting by recording onto audio tape at a slightly higher level than 0db.


Terraced Dynamics - often used in baroque music, it is the shifting from soft to loud and vice versa without gradual crescendos or decrescendos


Timbre - the harmonics of an instrument or voice that define its unique sound and character


Turnaround - most often used in blues, it is the chord immediately preceding the restatement of the progression. Usually accomplished by playing the I chord for two beats and the then the V7 chord. See this month’s article on chord progressions


Vamp - a continued instrumental figure that can be 1 or more chords, also called ostinato in classical music


Verse - two or more sections of a song that have the same musical content but different lyrics. Can also be incorporated in instrumental music where the lead instrument plays a melody against a chord progression.


Vocals - either lead (melody) or background (harmony)


Weight - typically meant to describe dynamics where a soft piece is described as light and a loud piece as heavy. Compare the terms soft rock and heavy metal.


White Noise - random noise with all frequencies having the same power or level.


X/Y pattern - A method for stereo recording where two directional mics with identical frequency responses are arranged so that the mic capsules are very close together with the diaphragms at a 90 - 130 degree angle to each other. Usually results in a good stereo separation with a balanced image.


XLR - Most commonly called mic connectors, they are rugged, interlocking connectors used in professional audio which have anywhere from 3 to 5 pins depending on the intended use.


If there are some more terms that you'd like see defined that I didn't list here, please email me at