Here’s Part 4—One more after this
Monophonic—sound recorded using one microphone or input. After the
sound is recorded, it can be placed in a stereo or surround field by using
the panning control. Also refers to synthesizers, though rarely used that can
only produce one sound at a time.
Multi-tracking—the method of recording
where several tracks are recorded at once. Also involves the playback of
multiple tracks while recording one or more tracks
Nearfield monitors– monitors used in
mixing and mastering that are designed so that the listener is very close to
the speakers. This allows the mixing or mastering engineer to listen at a
Non-linear Editing– A method of editing
audio only available since digital recording and producing have come into
vogue. Basically it means that you can jump from one part of a track to
another without having to let the track play through to the part you want to
edit. Many editors and sequencers will preserve the original track and record
the edits so that original source material remains untouched
Normalizing—a software applet included in
most recording and sequencing programs that raises the volume of a whole
segment or track so that the loudest part of the track is at 0db while the
level of the rest of the track is raised accordingly.
Obbligato– In classical music, it denoted
a passage or melody that was to be played exactly as written. However, in
more modern times, it has been used in exactly the opposite manner, meaning
that a different arrangement could be substituted for what was originally
written to fit different circumstances.
Overheads—Microphones, typically used when
micing drum kits that are oriented about 3 feet or so above the cymbals. Can
also be used to mic choirs, string sections or other acoustic ensembles. They
are almost always used to produce a stereo image of what is being recorded
Pad –This has two meanings—one in music
production and the other in recording engineering. The first refers to a
track which is usually a keyboard or string part that underlies the rhythm
and lead parts to provide texture and fill in some if not all of the chordal
structure of the song by playing extended chords and notes that extend from
measure. It can also be vocal as well. In recording engineering, pad refers
to a component of mixing boards and some microphones that allows the engineer
to lower input volume in order to accommodate louder instruments.
Pan—The component on a mixing board or in
the recording software that allows the user to locate the track in the stereo
or surround field.
Patch bay –a device used to reroute input
and output signals and also to split the signals so that it can be sent to
two different places.
Pedal Tone or Pedal Point –typically a non
chord tone played in the bass register that stays constant as the melody and
other harmonics of the passage move against it. It is commonly used in
introductions to songs and can be very useful to add tension
See my article on phase—
Pickup- A transducer that consists of
magnetic poles pieces that are wound with many turns of copper or some other
conductive wire. Also refers to pressure sensitive transducers such as piezo
pickups used in acoustic guitars.
See my article
Refrain– The section of the song that
usually has repeated lyrics and musical arrangement. It states the main idea
of the song
Response Curve—The graph of a microphone
or transducers response over the entire frequency spectrum.
Retrograde/Reverse-a midi editing
technique where the phrase selected is reversed from its original orientation
Reverb—Either natural or induced echoes
and reflections intended to give a track (or tracks) the impression that they
are in a particular space. Reverb is often used as an effect with one of the
most notable practictioners being Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin.
Rhythm section– Typically the drums and
bass of a ensemble although rhythm guitar is sometimes included as well.
Ribbon Microphone– A dynamic microphone
that employs a thin sheet of aluminum stretched between two poles of a
magnet. Early models were fragile but newer construction materials and
techniques have improved their durability. Often noted for their exceptional
high end detail.
Shout Section—The section of the song
where all the instruments build to a climax with each instrument playing
within the key of the song but not necessarily in the same rhythm or of the
same melody structure. Radiohead’s “Iron Lung” from “The Bends” and “We Suck
Young Blood” from “Hail to the Thief” are prime examples in contemporary
SMPTE Society of Motion Picture and
Television Engineers—Also denotes a timing standard used in recording music
whereby different pieces of equipment can be synchronized.
Solo—The section of a song where the lead
instrument plays an improvised melody against the rhythm section. Also means
to isolate a particular track or group of tracks so that only they can be
Spectrum Analysis—The real- representation
of the frequency response of a particular track
Stems—the up or down strokes on musical
notes other than whole notes. Generally used when more than one instrument is
notated on one staff. The up stems are played by one instrument and the down
stems by another.
Stereophonic—A sound having the quality of
being located in binaural space.
Continued next month