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Music Software Common Terminology for Music Producers

Bellow, I tried to cover some of the common words most commonly found in today’s music-making software. I did not go into many details because there are many words in this field. If you want to add anything to this list you can do it in the Comments section below of this post.

Audio File – Depending on the platform this may be referred to as an “audio file” or a “sound bite.” Audio files can be in various formats such as .wav .ogg .mp3 .aiff .raw .wma and many more.

DAW – This word represents the abbreviation for Digital Audio Workstation. Examples of DAWs: FL Studio, Ableton, Logic Pro, Bitwig Studio, Sonar X, Cubase, Reason, GarageBand, and more.

dB – dB is a physical scale for volume. Use volume controls to set the value of the decibel (dB) for your tracks. For example, a change in power by a factor of 5 is a 5 dB change in level.

Deactivate or Disable – The function of turning a track or plug-in (if applicable to your DAW) “off”, so it does not use any CPU or DSP resources. This will help you to save some CPU resources.

Delay Compensation – An automatic adjustment by DAW software for the delay or latency caused by routing, bussing, or plug-in processing of a track (if applicable to your DAW). Depending on the platform this may be referred to as “delay compensation” or “latency compensation.”

Edit List – A sequence of segments (see below) arranged on an audio or MIDI track that allows the user to create alternate versions with different edits or takes of a performance. Depending on the platform this may be referred to as a “play order list”, “take” or “playlist.” For example, in FL Studio you will find the “Piano Roll” where you can edit notes, tempos, pitch, import, or export MIDI files, but also the Event Editor.

Import/Export – The import function will allow you to add new sounds and files to your projects. The export will help you to save your project as an audio file.

Mixer – Many music-making software includes a Mixer module where you will find all tracks from your multi-session project and also the Master Track. Individual tracks will allow you to add specific effects to specific soundtracks and the Master Track will affect the entire mix.

Project/Session – We use this term to refer to the document or file that is essentially the map of all elements associated with the current song. Depending on the platform, it may also be named as “session file”, “project file”, “project document” or “song file”.

Render – To take multiple segments (see below) on a single track (e.g. vocal comp or edited guitar part) and convert them into a single contiguous file. No processing is added to the file when it is rendered. Depending on the platform this operation may be referred to as “bounce”, “merge soundbite”, “glue”, or “consolidate.”

Segment – A block of data, often used for editing purposes, that is either a portion of an audio or MIDI file or the entire audio or MIDI file. Depending on the platform this may be referred to as a “region”, “event”, “clip”, or “sound bite.”

Timeline Marker – A marker that denotes a point in the project/session’s timeline; most often used in music production to illustrate the different sections of a song (e.g. Verse 1, Chorus 2, Bridge, etc.). Depending on the platform this may be referred to as a “marker” or “memory location marker.” Some of the DAWs allow you to can add markers, name them, and attach comments and colors to them.

VST Plugins – VST comes from the abbreviation of Virtual Studio Technology and represents a software interface that integrates virtual synthesizers and effects modules. These days VST plugins are very complex and are supported by the majority of DAWs. Many VST Synthesizers get notes as digital information via MIDI. There are three types of VST Plugins: VST Instruments, VST Effects, VST MIDI effects. The latest technology in this field is VST 3.5 came out in 2011.

This supports performance flexibility and a more natural playing feel. Similar to VST plugins are Audio Units (AU) for MAC users.



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