What is Distortion?
Distortion is sometimes used deliberately as an effect, but can also be created accidentally within the process of mixing.
If a sound wave is so loud that the top of its wave exceeds the maximum threshold of the recording tool then the top of the wave will be cut off or ‘clipped’.
This means that the smooth pattern of the wave is interrupted, thus affecting the sound that can be played back.
Distorted sounds often appear ‘fuzzy’ or ‘harsh’.
Listen to this looped sound as it increases in volume and distortion begins to affect the sound. You should be able to hear the 'fuzzy' and 'harsh' nature of distortion emerge.
Distortion as a Deliberate effect
Distortion can be used creatively. It will add noise to sounds and can be used to thicken sound textures and make them seem more impressive.
Rock guitarists often use distortion.
Listen to the clarity and twang of the notes.
Listen out for the roar of the distortion and how it makes the riff fuzzy.