Music Production Terms – Official Glossary

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The following are common production terms used in the rap, hip hop music industry. This list is complied and written by TL Beats producers. Definitions are based off of knowledge and experience in the industry. To search for a specific definition, use the (CTRL + F) function on your keyboard

Music Production Terminology

Analogue – Type of wave signal that is continuous.

Automation – Process where the software will remember user inputs like pitch modulation, note velocity, etc.

Bass – The low filter noise, typically on a lower octave or as a deeper sound. Used as the “background” in a lot of beats. Almost every good beat has this. 

Beat – A musical composition created by a music producer, typically for the usage of an artist to record vocals over.

Bit Depth – Number of bits in a sample (computer engineering term for storing data).

Bounce or Bouncing – What makes your head move up and down, inexplicable like the juice, sauce etc.

Channel – Where specific instrument is playing from in mix usually denoted by a number.

Chords – A set of notes played at the same time.

Chorus – Part of a track that sounds more epic than the rest. Typically louder and leads the sound or beat. Producer can often struggle with this sound, making it too loud at times, or not loud enough and it makes a weird mix.

Clipping – Any distortion or sound you don’t want in a mix due to overloading software.

Compression – Reducing the size of an audio signal to produce less or more sound.

Compressor – Lets you adjust gain, ratios, etc.. Each one is unique.

Decibel – A way to measure sound level on log scale (you’ll learn in school its exponential).

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) – An application typically run from a computer that acts as a digital orchestra. These devices are made to make music. They can be done on a computer and can often producer an array of sounds difficult to find in instrument form.

Dry – A sound that doesn’t have reverb.

Emcee – In traditional hip hop, it stands for “master or ceremonies” or “MC” or “Emcee”. Basically a rapper, that performs well on stage.

Equalization (EQ) – A device that lets you tweak the sounds within an audio clip. This is often a solution to specific volume issues.

Exclusive – A beat only sold to one individual. Typically if not always at a higher price than a lease. The producer can not legally resell the same beat to another artist.

Folder – A place where files can be placed and obtained on a DAW application. Often in the browser setting.

Frequency – Number of waves repeated in a cycle unit time.

FX – “Effect” for a sound.

Gain – Increase ratio of variable to another.

High Pass Filter – Passes signals with frequency higher than cutoff frequency.

High Range Filter – Filters out the high frequency tones of a beat.

Hip Hop – A musical genre started by African Americans, has since become quite popular and has breached out to many sub genres including trap, rap, and underground.

Hook – Part of a beat, usually with words that the artist uses to shape song after. After a rapper or singer goes through their first verse the hook will play which leads into the 2nd and 3rd verse. The hook appears 2-3 times throughout the song and is the same each time.

Hz – Unit of frequency.

Impedance – Resistance in an audio device (measured in ohms).

Instrumental – Another word/synonym of “beat”. A composition created by a musician usually to be sold to an artist or any buyer for commercial use.

Latency – Delay/lag.

Lease/Leasing – A type of beat sold in which the producer can legally sell it to multiple artists. The price is typically if not always cheaper than an exclusive beat. The term “lease” implies that after a certain number of uses, the buyer has to re lease the beat. Number of uses depends on what producer you lease from.

Loudness – The frequency of sound achieved through compression and volume adjustments.

Low Pass Filter – passes signals with frequency lower than cutoff frequency.

Low Range Filter – Filters out the (low frequency tones) of a beat.

Master/Mastering Audio – Final element of making a track that involves getting the right levels, effects, etc for a mix. Using digital sound techniques to produce higher quality sounding audio. Using things such as plugins, equalizers, and volume knobs on specific instruments. A number of things can be done as this is a big phase and part of producing a beat.

Metronome – keep beats/time at interval.

MIDI – Musical instrument for recording/playing music electronically. Typically a device plugged into a computer that connects to the DAW, or “digital audio workstation”. This device can be a keyboard, drum pad, tuner or some other audio device. Users can manage the DAW application from the “MIDI” device.

Mid Range Filter – Filters out the mid frequency tones (in between lows and highs) of a beat.

Mixer – Where you adjust sound levels, add effects, etc.

MP3 – A type of audio file extension.

Music Theory – The study of music.

Ohm – A unit measure of resistance.

Panning – In mix, where you hear the main sound coming out of (stereo).

Piano Roll Editor – Where a producer or engineer edits the individual notes in a pattern.

Plugins – Applications within a DAW that creates and modifies sounds.

Quantization – Chopping/breaking down a notes into smaller sections.

Rapper – Adds verbiage or “raps” to a beat. Typically dealt the task of performing in front of an audience. Rappers may “freestyle” lyrics, write, or recite. Today’s rappers can’t do much in the modern industry without good producers on staff. However in return the live performances have gotten better.

Rap – A term often used interchangeably with “hip hop”, a urban type music genre, known for its often raw, uncut and creative nature.

Render – The processing of a sound or playlist. Typically referring to the exporting process of a track and how long it takes to create a file (mp3, wave, flac et cetera).

Resistance – Property relating to passage of current.

Reverb – Similar to an “echo” in terms of a sound modification.

Samples/Sampling – A piece of a song, typically with audio that producers use in a DAW to formulate a beat around. This is typically a final step for producers as it cost money to clear/use sample. In terms of time length samples only last a couple bars or less that 30 seconds.

Sample Libraries – A pack of samples. Clearance/legality is debatable. Samples can come in packs up to 100 or more.

Synth – Generated signals that are converted to sounds through audio devices.

Synthesizer (Synth) – A harmonic sound application or instrument that produces typically an array of sounds that can be coordinated with piano or drum usage. Often used by producers to get a unique array of sounds.

Tap Tempo – A program in FL Studio that estimates the tempo based on real time tapping in the DAW.

Tempo – Rate music moves at.

Velocity – The speed a key is hit.

Virtual Studio Technology (VST) – Software interface that lets user use effects, editors, etc.

Wave – A type of file type extension that carries the most data. Ideal for highest quality production.

Waveform – The sound waves associated with a sound based file. The waves illustrate the frequency/gain of an individual sound in track. This is often used to master tracks and make sure every thing’s close to the same wavelength.

Wet – A sound with reverb.


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