If you are thinking about trying your hand at music production, the good news is that you can easily start from the comfort of your home. It can initially be overwhelming to fully grasp all of the different technical terms used in the process. To make it a little easier, we have compiled a glossary of music production terms that you should know about as you get started:
1 – DAW
DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. It is an application that is used to record, edit, and produce audio. Some well-known examples of DAWs are Logic, GarageBand, and Ableton Live.
2 – Bouncing
Bouncing means to export a track – usually to mp3 or wav.
3 – EQ
EQ stands for equalisation. It uses an audio filter to isolate specific frequencies to either boost them or lower them (without changing the rest of the track in the process).
4 – Mixing
Mixing means to combine multiple recorded tracks (singing different parts, playing instruments, etc.) and adjusting the audio levels of each to create a balanced track. The final mix is also called the master mix.
5 – Mastering
While mixing is about combining individual recordings into a single track, mastering is the final process your track goes through before it is released. In case you are producing an album, this is the stage where the tracks are put in order. Here, you must make sure the final track sounds consistent across various formats and platforms.
6 – Panning
Panning means to place the sound either in the left or right speaker.
7 – MIDI
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It is one of the most powerful tools in music production, and records data and notes with software and electronic instruments.
8 – Reverb
Reverb is the reflection of sounds from surfaces. Producers can add more reverb electronically by using plug-ins.
While these are the technical music production terms you should know, it’s also important to understand the parts of a song, and what they mean. The average pop song has the following parts:
- Verse: This is where the storytelling happens. The first verse gives listeners an idea of what the song is about, the second verse builds on that idea, and the final verse (if there is one) concludes the idea.
- Chorus: Musically and lyrically, the chorus is the high point, or the “big idea” of the song. This is where the singer hits the highest notes. If the song uses instrumentation, the chorus is where they all come together.
- Pre-Chorus (not all songs necessarily have this): If the song has a pre-chorus, it is used to connect the verse and the chorus. It adds a little more to the running story, and leads the listener up to the chorus.
- Bridge: Musically and lyrically, the bridge is different from the verse and the chorus. It takes the song in a different direction; if the verse is describing a story that takes place through time, the bridge can take a different perspective (for example, the lyrics can describe what somebody else was doing during that time).
Each part serves a different purpose in the larger context of the song, and the story it tries to tell. We recommend listening closely to well-known pop hits and identifying the different parts of each song.