Audio Production Basics I | Content Creation

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In this lesson we will talk about elements that are involved in music production and discuss the equipment you will need to start making your own music. It contains some useful tips on setting up your own studio at home and improving acoustics. You will also learn how to record using hardware recorders and software applications and will be introduced to some microphone recording techniques.

Music Glossary

5:1 surround sound: see surround sound

Amp: Unit of electrical current, short for ampère.

Aux: Short for auxiliary. Features on hardware and software mixing desks and is an input or output that sends and returns an exterior source, commonly used for auxiliary effects so you can treat a mass of channels with the single effect unit. In a live instance it’s used for sending a signal to onstage monitors for the performers to hear what they’re playing.

Active: Describes a circuit that contains transistors, tubes and other devices that require power to operate and are capable of amplification.

Additive synthesis: The timbre of an instrument is composed of multiple harmonic or non-harmonic partials (individual sine waves), of different frequencies and amplitudes, that change over time. The concept behind additive synthesis is directly related to work done by the French mathematician Joseph Fourier.

ADSR envelope: ADSR envelope - This is a simple type of envelope generally found on a synthesiser but also on other devices to control filter sweeps and such like. It stands for Attack time (the time taken for the initial sound to go from zero to peak), Decay time (the time taken for the sound to run down from the attack peak down to the designated sustain level), Sustain level (Is the amplitude of the sound during the main sequence of it’s duration) and Release time (The time it takes for the sound to decay from it’s sustained amplitude after the key has been released).

Amplitude: Another word for level. Can refer to sound but also electrical signal.

Global: To cover all parameters of a device.

LFO: Low frequency oscillator, used in synthesisers and other electronic music devices, it emits a low frequency pulse or sweep at around 20hZ and can be applied to frequency, pitch and the pan of a sound.

Granular synthesis: Sounds are generated by a specific amount of short, adjacent audio segments, called grains. Grains are created by using either a mathematical formula or by using a sample. These grains are usually 5-100 milliseconds long and are spliced together in order to form a sound.

Channel: A section on a mixing desk that has either mono or stereo inputs that have gain control and can sometimes feature a 3 band EQ, Auxiliary “Sends”and Pan control.

Piano roll: Used in old automatic pianos from the late 19th century. A roll of paper that had holes made a certain distance apart to trigger the notes to be played at a certain time.

Monophonic: A single sound source without accompanying harmony.

Surround sound: A multi channeled speaker set up, used for CI

Oscillator: A wave generating module found in the beginning stage of a synthesizer.

Pan: The controller used to sweep the sound to the left or the right from a central position in a stereo field.

Field recording: It’s not when you record in a field but when you record outside of the studio using a portable hard disk recorder. Generally a shot gun is used to capture a specific sound or a Binaural stereo microphone to capture a landscape of sound.

Polyphonic: A texture consisting of two or more voices.

Aftertouch: Means of generating a control signal based on how much pressure is applied to the keys of a MIDI keyboard. Most instruments that support this use the sensing strip that runs through a midi keyboard and and detects the overall pressure applied. It can be used for musical expressions like vibrato depth, filter brightness, loudness and so on, though you can apply it to effect devices for example to control the delay and feedback of a reverb unit.

Sample based synthesis: A form of audio synthesis that can be contrasted to either subtractive synthesis or additive synthesis. The principal difference with sample-based synthesis is that the seed waveforms are sampled sounds or instruments instead of fundamental waveforms such as the saw waves of subtractive synthesis or the sine waves of additive synthesis.

Phase distortion synthesis: Casio introduced the term 'phase distortion'. Yamaha had previously produced the first Phase Modulation synthesizers in their DX series of synths. It adds another waveform to the original to distort the waveform.

Physical modeling synthesis: Refers to methods in which the waveform of the sound to be generated is computed by using a mathematical model, being a set of equations and algorithms to simulate a physical source of sound, usually a musical instrument. Such a model consists of (possibly simplified) laws of physics that govern the sound production, and will typically have several parameters, some of which are constants that describe the physical materials and dimensions of the instrument, while others are time-dependent functions that describe the player's interaction with it, such as plucking a string, or covering tone holes.

Wavetable synthesis: Based on the playback of sampled waveforms. Wavetable offers a few key benefits, such as the capability to sweep through the wavetable at any speed without effecting the pitch, plus isolating and looping specific points of the wavetable.

Velocity: Can refer to note velocity sensitivity on a keyboard. Can dictate the volume of a note and usually has a value from 0 - 127.

Stereo: The reproduction of sound using two or more independent audio channels through a symmetrical configuration of loudspeakers in such a way as to create the impression of sound heard from various directions, as in natural hearing.

Boom stand: Metal microphone stand that has a long movable arm on a hinge. Used for recording difficult to reach sound sources.

Track: Can be used to refer to the whole composition but also can refer to the individual audio or MIDI channel.

BPM: Beats per minute.

Amplifier: Device that increases the level of an electrical signal.

Waveform: Graphic representation of the way in which a sound wave or electrical wave varies with time.

Bus: Allows signals to be transferred between two devices be it within the computer or externally.

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