Musical Listening

Listening to sounds in terms of their own sonic and musical characteristics. It is the opposite of Contextual listening. Musical Listening focuses on the nature of sounds, to their musical relationships…

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Musique Concrète

A term created by Pierre Schaeffer in 1948 to describe his new music, which started from the concrete sound material, from heard sound. Schaeffer wanted people to ignore the source and cause…

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Objects that vibrate in a randomised fashion produce sounds that we describe as noisy. This is because the sounds produced contain a random assortment of frequencies. Advanced A term that…

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Noise Music

This term is associated with various forms of music that have focused on Noise as its key sound quality. In the early 20th century, noise was a focus of some works by…

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A form of visual representation for sounds. Traditional notation is designed to describe and represent notes and note-based music, but not as equipped to describe the majority of sounds. Graphic…

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Sounds which have a clearly defined Pitch and Duration, and are the main ingredients in the majority of traditional music.

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Eight (octo) Sounds (Phony), the use of eight loudspeakers to playback audio. In most octophonic systems each loudspeaker will receive a unique audio signal.

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A piece of electrical equipment that produces a back and forth motion in electricity, thus inducing an AC current which can be sonified by a loudspeaker.

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The placement of sounds left and right between a stereo pair of speakers. Sounds can be panned to the left and right to give the impression of space thus spreading…

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A strong concentration of sound wave energy at a specific pitch. All sounds that have a pitch are made up or partials. A Sonogram of a guitar sound in which you can…

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Patterns are recognisable repeated elements. A looped sound will form a pattern because it is played again and again. If the loop is short then the listener will be able to…

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Sound waves can both add together and subtract from one another. When soundwaves add together they are described as being ‘in phase’ with one another. When soundwaves subtract from one…

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Pierre Schaeffer

Pierre Schaeffer worked as a radio technician for the French national radio and whilst working there began to experiment with recorded sounds. In 1946 he convinced the radio station to…

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Pitch as Property The relative height of a sound, ranging from low to high. A pitched sound will contain relatively focused spectral energy, and it is this characteristic that enables…

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Pitch Shifting

This refers to the changing of the Pitch in either direction. Traditionally pitch shifting went hand in hand with the change of speed of a tape recorder. With today’s digital technology, pitch…

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Recording technology allows us to capture sounds and store them so that they can be played back later. Recorded sounds may also be edited.

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The multiple short reflections of sound that give humans an immediate impression of space. Reverb effects can be used to impart a sense of space onto recorded or generated sounds.

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Signal Wave

A signal wave is a pattern of electricity which can be converted into a sound wave (for example by a Loudspeaker), or can be used to drive other processes an manipulations…

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Sine Wave

The purest of sounds, looking like a sequence of hills and troughs, the sine wave (or sinusoid) creates the sound of a single frequency with no harmonics or interference.  …

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Sounds that are connected or blended together with no intervening silence. In traditional music the term legato is used. (Legato is the Italian word for ‘tied together’.)

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A sonogram is able to show the relative distribution of sound wave energy within a sound, over time. It can be a useful visual tool for understanding how sounds operate…

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Sound Art

This term generally designates the art form in which the sound is its basic unit. A liberal view of sonic art would take it to be a subset of music.…

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Sound Mark

Sound marks are the sonic equivalent of landmarks. They are key sound objects within a soundscape which help us to orientate ourselves. Sometimes Sound Marks are also Keynote sounds, but…

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Sound Recorder

A tool for recording and capturing sounds. There are many many different types of sound recording equipment. These days, even mobile phones are able to record sounds. The more expensive…

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Sound source

This is the perceived cause of a sound. It may be referential, relating to a recognised contextual source, or an abstract description of the characteristics necessary for a description of…

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Sound Walk

a walk where the participant (or participants) concentrate on listening [paraphrase of Schafer 212–213]. The main goal of the activity is to facilitate Heightened listening. When more than one person is…

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Wherever we are, we are surrounded by sound. Soundscapes (just like landscapes) can be urban/rural, industrial/agricultural, busy/quiet, and so on. Soundscapes can change over the course of a day, and…

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A way of visualising sounds that provides information about the frequencies that make up the sound. The horizontal axis of the spectrogram displays Time (the further to the right the…

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To cut up a sound file. Usually to remove unwanted bits, leaving only the sounds that the composer wants to use. When composers used magnetic tape they would splice the…

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A grouping of electronic modules intended for sound processing. Such equipment usually incorporates a combination of oscillators (tone generators), filters, mixers, envelope generators, noise generators, reverberation units, etc. The term…

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When discussing music and sound Tape refers Magentic Tape, a technology for capturing and recording sound. Magnetic tape was invented in 1928 in Germany and is made up of a…

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A style of music that developed from the mixture of electronic music and African styles. It is repetitive instrumental music, often with a strong beat. It developed because of the…

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The colour or quality of a sound. It is used as a term to describe all of the properties of sounds that cannot be described using other terms (such as…

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A manipulation in which the Duration of a sound is altered. Time stretching can be used to make sounds longer or shorter. Time-stretching can be done on its own using digital technology,…

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A manipulation in which the pitch of a sound is altered.  Transpose means to increase or decrease the pitch of a sound. If the pitch is increased, the sound becomes…

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A regular change in Amplitude that can be applied to any sound. This creates a wobbling effect similar to Flanging. NOT to be confused with Vibrato.

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A turntablist is a musician who conceives the scratching and mixing of records on a twin-deck turntable as an artistic and expressive medium. Turntablism is the process of creating music…

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A regular change in Frequency which can be applied to any sound. The rate of change may be very fast or slow. And the amount of change might also be adjusted. Not…

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A common way of showing sounds visually. It displays how sounds change in Amplitude over time and allows viewers to clearly see the Envelope (ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release)) of…

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