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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Sep-18 > AN INTRODUCTION TO MUSICAL TERMS

AN INTRODUCTION TO MUSICAL TERMS

The world of modern music production can appear totally alien to newcomers, with technical terms in regular parlance that may seem impenetrably complex. If you’re struggling with some of these concepts then Erin Barra is here to help you learn the language of sound…

Learning how to read and play music is very much like learning how to speak another language. Staves, slurs, accidentals, dynamic markings, tempo indicators, meter markings, rests etc… There’s a whole lot of jargon that you have to deeply understand in order to become a master musician, and those fundamentals are key to professional growth.

As a person who has worked on both sides of the glass, I increasingly find that the language of music technology can be pretty challenging to initially comprehend, and in some instances put people off music. It’s scientific, technological and often one word can mean a vast number of things depending on the context (looking at you, ‘sample’!).

As an educator and lifelong learner, I have always found meaning in the use of metaphors to aid in teaching. For example, when I think about compression, I visualise a grandmother who only has a certain threshold for loud noises. When I think about FM Synthesis I think about a carnival ride that rotates in one huge circle with arms that have smaller rotations at each end.

Metaphors have always served me well when communicating concepts. In this feature we’ll break down many typical concepts of words you encounter in Synthesis, Sampling and Digital Signal Processing into easy-to-understand metaphors to enable you to grasp their meaning. And hopefully they’ll help you to remember in case you ever get stuck!

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About MusicTech

In our cover feature this month, Alex Holmes guides you through the science and logic behind why it’s necessary to calibrate your studio and equipment, and the steps you’ll need to take to guarantee perfect, balanced sound at all times. Also this issue, Erin Barra simplifies some vital music production concepts that may have long eluded your understanding – to hopefully increase your sonic vocabulary. We speak to Kanye West’s former controllerist and cutting-edge musician Laura Escudé, UNO synth designer Erik Norlander and Emmy-winning Guus Hoevenaars. Additionally, we present our in-depth reviews of Roland Cloud, PreSonus Studio One 4, Loopcloud 2.0, Elektron Analog Four MkII and more, as well as 5 brand new tutorials to broaden your production chops.