Glossary of Terms

Remember to set the prefs for best quality output
Sound, especially when recorded or transferred to an electrical signal.

The regular, repeating rhythmic pulse of a song.
Abbreviation for beats per minute, the measure of the tempo of a song.
An effect in which copies of the original sound are played back later. Each copy is played back slightly out of tune from the original. Used to create the sound of several voices or instruments playing together.
Distortion caused when the volume level exceeds the maximum that can be accurately reproduced. See distortion.
An effect in which the difference between the loudest and softest parts of a song or track is decreased. Compression can
add punch and focus to a song, and make the song sound better when played on equipment with a narrower dynamic
Abbreviated as dB. A unit of measure for the volume or loudness of a sound. The decibel scale is a logarithmic scale in
which 1 dB is approximately the smallest change in volume audible to human ears.
The effect produced when the volume level exceeds the maximum that can be accurately reproduced. Heard as a sharp,
crackling sound, which is undesirable in most circumstances.
1. A change occurring over time. 2. The range from the lowest to the highest volume level, called dynamic range.
An effect in which copies of the original sound played back later in time, enough to be heard distinctly from the original.
Also sometimes called delay.
A device, or computer algorithm, used to produce a change to an audio signal. Popular music styles use a variety of
effects to add character to sounds. Examples of common effects include compression, equalizer (EQ), echo, and reverb.
A widely used effect in which specific frequencies of a sound are increased or decreased in volume. Using an equalizer
can produce both subtle and dramatic changes in the quality of a sound. Also called EQ (short for equalization).
An effect similar to a chorus, but in which the copies of the sound are also played back more out of tune from the original
signal. See phaser.
Equivalent to volume. Specifically, increasing the level of an electric audio signal.
Musical term for a musical scale starting on a specific note or pitch. That note is called the root or tonic of the scale.
A regular group of beats, heard together as a larger rhythmic unit.
A device that marks regular intervals of time, such as musical beats, by sounding a click.
Acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A standard protocol used for communication between electronic musical
instruments and computers. You can play the Software Instruments in GarageBand using a MIDI-compatible music
Musical term for the pitch or frequency of a sound. There are seven notes in both the major and minor scales, and 12 in
the chromatic scale.
Musical term for a note either twice or half the pitch of another note. There are 12 semitones between notes an octave
Short for panorama. The position of a sound in the stereo field between the left and right speakers. An instrument's pan
position helps create the sense of where the instrument exists in space.
An effect in which copies of the original sound are played back slightly later in time, and also played out of phase with the
original. Creates a characteristic "whooshing" sound, something like a jet plane flying by.
The perceived highness or lowness of a sound. In music, the pitch of a sound is expressed as a musical note.
Scientifically, pitch corresponds to the sound's frequency.
Short for reverberation. An effect that recreates the sound of an acoustic space by playing back many copies of the
original signal, at slightly varied times and volume levels.
Musical term for a group of related notes that forms the basis for a melody, a series of chords, or an entire song. The most
common scales are the major scale and minor scale.
Musical term for the smallest distance between two notes. Larger distances, called intervals, are measured by the number
of semitones. There are 12 semitones between each octave.
The speed or rate at which rhythmic beats occur in a song, measured in bpm (beats per minute).
The precision with which notes and other musical events align with the beats and measures of a song, or with another
note value.
Musical term for moving notes or scales up or down by a specific number of semitones, resulting in their being in a new
For a MIDI-compatible keyboard, velocity is a measure of how hard you press each key as you play. Software Instrument
notes played at a higher velocity sound different than notes played at a lower velocity.
The perceived loudness of a sound, measured in decibels.