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Music and Audio Glossary of Terms—Part 2

This post is part of a series called Music and Audio Glossary of Terms.
Music and Audio Glossary of Terms—Part 1
Music and Audio Glossary of Terms—Part 3

The modern world is full of three-letter acronyms, or TLAs, and other jargon. The world of music and audio is no different.

Every given topic area has its own specific abbreviations and terminology that can, at first, be impenetrable to some. In this tutorial I attempt to demystify a few of the terms that you're likely to read in our tutorials.


EDM—Electronic Dance Music

EDM is a range of percussive electronic music genres made, predominantly, for nightclubs, raves and festivals. EDM is also produced and performed in live settings. EDM is more commonly known as dance music or simply dance.

Equalization (EQ)

EQ is he process of adjusting various audio frequencies to correct or enhance the sound. Every audible sound sits within the frequency range of human hearing.

A high pitched sound, like a drum cymbal or hissing sound, resides in the top end of the spectrum. A low pitched sound, such as a bass guitar or kick drum, resides in the bottom end of the spectrum.

Every instrument has a fundamental frequency but also has higher overtones and harmonics that give it’s character of sound. An organ sounds different to a bass guitar because of the different overtones and harmonics.

With equalization, you can adjust the character and tone of a sound by boosting or cutting these different frequencies.



A transition to or from silence. In audio engineering, a fade is a gradual decrease or increase in the level of an audio signal. 

For example, a recorded song may fade-out. That is have a gradual reduction in sound, at the end of the song, to silence. It's a solution to musical arrangements that have no obvious ending.

Though relatively rare in songs, The Beatles would use fade out and fade back in techniques with songs such as Helter Skelter and Strawberry Fields Forever.


Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop. The system can then be said to feed back into itself. 



A gate is an electronic device that increases dynamic range by cutting off a signal when its level falls below a specific threshold. A gate is used to control leakage of sound source into adjacent mics, for instance drums.


Gain is the amplification level of an audio signal. It's the measure of the ability of a two-port circuit, usually an amplifier, to increase the power of amplitude of a signal from the input to the output port.



Hertz, and the symbol, Hz, is a unit of frequency, cycles per second as defined by the International System of Units (SI).

Named after Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the system's most common uses are in the description of sine waves and musical tones. It can also be used to describe the speed at which computers and other electronics operate.

High Pass Filter 

A circuit that discriminates between high and low frequencies and allows only the high frequencies to pass.


Low Pass Filter 

A Low Pass Filter is a circuit that discriminates between high and low frequencies and allows only the low frequencies to pass.

LFO—Low-frequency oscillation 

LFO, or Low-frequency oscillation, is an electronic signal which is usually below 20Hz and creates a rhythmic pulse or sweep. 

This pulse or sweep is often used to modulate synthesizers, delay lines and other audio equipment in order to create effects.



Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A standard of communication between musical instruments, controllers and computers.


A mixer is a device that accepts two or more audio inputs and provides one or more audio outputs. 

Mixers commonly provide a variety of controls such as tone, volume, balance and effects for each channel.


Frequency Modulation Synthesis, or FM Synthesis, as it is modulation is also known is a form of synthesis where the timbre of a simple waveform—square, triangle or sawtooth—is changed by modulating its frequency. 

Modulation can create harmonic and non-harmonic sounds.


A monitor is a speaker or earphone dedicated to making it possible for a performer to hear—or monitor—his/her own performance. 

Examples of monitors are floor wedges, sidefills, or mini-monitor.

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