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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Dec 17 > THE A-Z Of Music Making

THE A-Z Of Music Making

In the often-confusing world of music technology, many terms, expressions and reference points can be bandied about with an expectation that everyone involved in music making automatically understands what is meant. Are you feeling a little perplexed? Help is at hand… Marc JB’s new A-Z goes through some of the most vital (and just generally good to know) real-world terms alphabetically and in plain language – so let’s start with A…

1 Acoustic Damping

After a sound comes out of your speakers, it bounces around the room. If the room has parallel walls, standing waves build up, making the sound muddy and horrible. Using acoustic dampening panels can help to tame these troublesome waves. Bass traps in the front corners help soak up that low-end energy; midrange traps placed to the side of you stop ‘flutter’ and help to keep the sound solid and tight. Finally, full-range traps on the back wall help keep the whole room under control. Egg boxes are best for keeping eggs in!

2 ADSR

Stands for Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release – this shapes the amplitude envelope of a sound – how its volume is set to ‘behave’ over time. Attack: when you first press the key, this adjusts the time it takes the sound to go from silent to the loudest level. Use fast attack for aggressive sounds, slow attack for smooth pads. Decay: the time it takes the sound to go from its loudest point to the level set by the sustain level. Sustain: the level of the sound when you hold a note. Release: the time it takes a note to return to silence after the key is released. To make a ‘pluck’, set a fast attack, short decay, zero sustain and short release. For a ‘pad’, set a long attack, long decay, 70% sustain and a long release. ADSR can also be applied to your filter cutoff, for great results.

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About MusicTech

Making music is an expensive pursuit. From monitors to microphones, DAWs and plug-ins: before you know it, just getting your creative space in order has made a serious dent in your bank account. But it really doesn’t have to be this way. In Andy Jones’ in-depth cover feature this month, he dives head-first into this ocean of free software, highlighting the best of the best and detailing how to use it effectively to build a track – for free! Elsewhere this issue, we’ve got the first in a new A-Z series, detailing some of the oft-used, key terms that you’ll likely hear and need to understand in the music-making world. Alongside all this, we’ve got our usual range of reviews, tutorials, tips and a complete guide to the vast high-tech world of controllers. We’ve also, very excitingly, teamed up with the best studio in the world with this issue’s free Abbey Road calendar. We hope you enjoy the issue.
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