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Music Technology

Flash Cards made for Music Technology Written Exams.

What is the role of an Audio Interface? To translate the voltage signal from a microphone into a digital signal that the computer system will understand.
How do Audio Interfaces translate signals? It uses an Audio to Digital Converter (ADC), sampling voltage waves to turn it into a digital signal. It also uses a Digital to Audio Converter (DAC) to convert the digital signal into an audio signal.
How are Audio Interfaces commonly connected? Commonly using a USB cable. Larger interfaces with a large selection of inputs may use a Fire Wire cable, optical or lightning cable.
What are USB cables used for? Connecting devices to a computer system, allowing them to transmit data telling the system what operations to perform. Used by any devices that directly connect to the computer.
What are XLR cables used for? Connecting audio equipment. Most commonly microphones to an audio interface or mixing desk. Also DI box to studio equipment as they are able to carry Phantom power (+48 Volts).
What are RCA/Phono cables used for? Commonly connecting stereo equipment. Red connector carries right-hand signal while white carries left-hand. For example, panning a guitar to the left would come through the white connection.
What are Jacks used for? In various sizes: Quarter Inch version is most commonly used to connect instruments to amplifiers or other studio equipment. 3.5mm version are found on headphones, connecting smaller audio equipment.
What does Monitoring refer to? How you hear what has been or is currently being recorded.
What is the first form of Monitoring? Headphones are the most common ways to monitor; All of the sounds from microphones are sent to the DAW and are then sent back out to the headphones.
What are the advantages of Headphone Monitoring? Musicians may be recorded in separate rooms in order to isolate their instrument sounds, they use headphone monitoring to hear each other. Headphones eliminate the risk of feedback and the amount of spill that a microphone picks up and records.
What does 'Spill' refer to? When the backing track that a musician uses can be heard coming through the speakers or headphones, recorded by the microphone.
What is the second form of Monitoring? Studio monitors (Speakers) are very high quality and designed to give accurate sounds compared to the original. Rare to monitor whilst recording using speakers.
What are the advantages of Speaker Monitoring? Monitor speakers can be used to check quality. They have a much better idea of stereo and sonic field, so the mix can be adjusted to replicate a generic home speaker's ability. Monitor speakers produce all frequencies, making a full sonic sound spectrum.
What is the first step to checking Software Configuration? Checking if your audio interface is connected. Has the software recognized and used it? If sound is coming from the computer, not the audio interface, settings need to be changed. (Preferences - Audio - Set input and output to the audio interface.)
What is the second step to checking Software Configuration? Checking that you are getting a signal into the computer through the audio interface. Plug in a microphone and turn up the gain until you get a signal in the software. Make sure the track has its input channel set to channel 1.
What is the third step to checking Software Configuration? Checking that you can monitor properly. Click the 'I' on the track you are recording on to, putting it into monitor mode so that you can hear what is being played directly from the microphone.
What is the fourth step to checking Software Configuration? Checking that the sound can be played through both headphones and studio monitors. Check in Preferences - Audio - Output - Make sure it's set to your audio interface. You should now be able to hear through studio monitors.
How is 'Cut' used in Audio Editing? The process of cutting out a section of Audio and deleting it.
How is 'Copy' used in Audio Editing? After selecting an area to duplicate, it can be copied and then pasted or placed into an area of choice.
How is 'Paste' used in Audio Editing? The method of placing material into your project once you have cut or copied it.
How is 'Loop' used in Audio Editing? Looping material is similar to copying it, but will appear directly after the original in a continuous flow.
How is 'Split' used in Audio Editing? When cutting material into 2 or more pieces.
What are MIDI Controllers used for? Sending MIDI Information to a computer or a sound module, triggered when the MIDI Instrument plays.
What/How does MIDI Information record a performance? When you play a note (a trigger), the performance information is sent to the computer to replicate by playing a sound in the same pitch, volume and duration.
What is the Pitch Wheel used for? (On a Piano) Used to add expression to a performance, in the same way as a guitarist bending a note in a solo. As the pitch wheel is only sending MIDI information, you could tell the DAW to automate the pitch bend control.
How do Samplers work? It takes a sample of an existing sound and plays it back. This allows you to have the original sound of an instrument without having to have that instrument in your possession.
How do Synthesizers work? They artificially synthesize, through modifying wave shapes. They can play different types of wave shapes that create different sounds.
What is Subtractive Synthesis? When you take away or subtract frequencies from a sound to give it a new quality. Doing this will give a new timbre. The frequencies don't have to be completely removed, they can be turned down by an amount in order to alter the timbre produced.
How could you explain MP3 Audio Files? They are the smallest audio file type that we have. They were created to fit hundreds of songs onto MP3 players that had limited amounts of storage space. They cut out a lot of the original file, reducing it's dynamic range and the detail of audio,
How could you explain WAV Audio Files? These files contain all of the original information that was recorded. There is no loss of information, dynamic or pitch range. WAV files are best used for sending the full resolution to another producer or mixer. The file is much larger/higher quality.
What is the Quantise tool? Quantise allows you to put MIDI Information in perfect time with the beat of the music. Quantise is used to map out a performance for a live performer to follow, giving the feel and sound of a human performance with the accuracy of a computer.
What are 'Plug-ins'? Plug-ins refer to tools that you 'plug in' to a channel or track of your choice. They often refer to audio FX. The easiest way to use plug-ins are to put them on each track you want to effect. The most efficient is using a bus channel.
What is a 'Bus Channel'? A 'Bus Channel' is new track with only Audio FX on it, where you send all of the sounds you want to have all those effects through.
What is 'EQ'? The process of adjusting frequencies of live or recorded sounds. You can do this to make sounds closer to the way they would be heard in real life, or for artistic/creative reasons. EQ can be used to remove or reduce any problematic frequencies.
What are 'Filters'? Filters are also used to adjust frequencies of sounds. The main purpose is to remove sounds you don't want to hear. There are High Pass Filters, allowing high frequencies and removing low, and Low Pass Filters, performing the opposite.
What is 'Audio FX'? A form of audio processing in order to manipulate the sound. Can be time or frequency based.
What is 'Reverb'? How is it created? The effect of sound bouncing off of surrounding objects. The Reverb unit plays multiple copies of the sound at different volumes and times.
How is 'Delay' created? Delay copies the original sound and plays it again at a stated interval, determined by you.
How is 'Echo' created? Echo uses both reverb and delay. It gives a sense of space, needing both a delay of the original sound and the addition of reverb.
How is 'Chorus' created? This is a modulation effect, creating copies of the original sound and changing the pitch to give the sound of more than one sound playing.
How is 'Phaser' created? It is a time-based effect, playing copies slightly out of time of the original. This causes frequencies to cancel out and give something like a whooshing jet-like sound.
What does 'Dynamic Processing' refer to? Dynamic processing is all about volume, the tools you can use in a DAW software to control it.
Give a simple example of a tool you can use to control volume. Using automation to turn down volume, or to create a fade out.
How would you use dynamic processing to level out a performance to make it more uniform? Using an Audio FX / Plug-In, such as a compressor. This would quieten all the louder noises, and then use the gain control to bring the overall volume back up.
How would you use dynamic processing to eliminate background noise or unwanted sounds? You would use a noise gate. This turns down or mutes any noise that isn't loud enough to 'open' the gate. Once sound becomes loud enough for the gate to open, it will be heard regularly.
What are the advantages of a 'Dynamic Microphone'? These are rugged microphones, so can handle being knocked about, often used in live music environments. They can handle very sound pressures, so are great for any kind of amp or loud sound source. They're not extremely sensitive, preventing feedback.
How does a 'Dynamic Microphone' work? They use a metal coil wrapped around a magnet, connected to a diaphragm. As sound waves hit the diaphragm, the coil moves, creating the electrical signal. The resulting signal is an exact replica of the sound wave signal that caused the diaphragm to move.
What are the advantages of a 'Condenser Microphone'? They are extremely sensitive, proving very high-quality recordings. They are used as room microphones, picking up sounds that reflect off the walls and giving the recording a sense of space.
How does a 'Condenser Microphone' work? They pass electrical signals between two plates. When sound hits the front plate, the distance between plates change and this changes the current between. This translates to an electrical signal that is a replica of the sound wave that moved the plate.
Describe a 'Cardioid' Polar Pattern. Called this as it looks like a heart. The most common pattern, found on the majority of dynamic mics. They struggle to pick up sounds from behind them because the diaphragm is a magnet and coil, only picking up sounds from in front of them.
Describe a 'Figure-of-Eight' Polar Pattern. Called this as it looks like a number 8. This polar pattern picks up sound from both the front and back, found on condenser microphones, which can change their polar patterns.
Describe an 'Omnidirectional' Polar Pattern. It picks up sounds from every direction, found on condenser microphones. The polar pattern is often used to record many instruments at once, or many parts of a something like a drum kit.
What are possible Health and Safety risks of a monitor screen? You can strain your eyes with long exposure. Having the screen to bright or dark will cause your eyes to get tired. To avoid this, you should take regular breaks from any screens.
What is the main cause of trips and falls in a studio environment? Cables that are messy, placed across pathways, not taped down to floor to keep secure, or not made visible for people to avoid.
What are the main dangers of spills from liquids in a studio environment? This can damage equipment like instruments. Especially bad for high powered electrical equipment such as computers, TVs or amps. Possibility of fires.
What are the dangers that can cause strains or sprains in a studio environment? Moving heavy equipment without proper training about how to lift, or without help. Risk of damaging both yourself and equipment if dropped.
Describe a 'Theatre' format of media. A live performance where actors perform to an audience. Often feature a live band; but, it has become popular to use prerecorded backing tracks. It is cheaper, takes less space and requires less administration of organizing musicians.
Describe a 'Radio Broadcast' format of media. No visual broadcasts. Often take place in a dedicated studio, room treated for acoustic performance. (Soundproof to stop nosie spread). Involve a mix of live presenting from a host, prerecorded music, and occasionally live performances.
Describe a 'Television Broadcast' format of media. Involves a large mix of prerecorded and live material. A television program could involve live presenting, voice-overs, prerecorded background music, feature music, live music, sound FX….
Describe a 'Podcast' format of media. Prerecorded information and entertainment shows that are broadcast over the internet. You can access whenever/wherever. More than likely to be saved as an MP3 file for easy download.
What are 'Diegetic' sounds? Sounds that originate from the world shown to you on screen.
What are 'Non-Diegetic' sounds? Sounds that do not originate or are not connected to the images on the screen.
Give examples of 'Non-Diegetic' sounds. Foley, Ambiance, Dialogue, Voice-overs, Underscore, Special/Spot Effects.
What is meant by 'Foley'? The process of performing sounds to match the action on screen.
What is meant by 'Ambience'? Sound that is present to give the scene a sense of time, space, location.
What is meant by 'Dialogue'? Words spoken on the screen by the characters. (Diegetic)
What is meant by 'Voice-over'? Words spoken to add commentary or narrate. (Non-Diegetic)
What is meant by 'Underscore'? The music contained within the media. It helps to set the time, place, mood.
What is meant by 'Special/Spot effects'? Usually Diegetic sounds that are used to emphasize/enhance particular moments of the action on screen. Musical or non-musical.
Why would you include a tempo change when writing music for film? One piece of music may cover several pieces of action that require tempo change. Could move from high energy to serene. Each scene requires its own music that matches energy, mood, atmosphere and feel.
What is meant by 'Over Dubbing'? The process of re-recording material that has already been recorded.
What are the benefits of 'Over Dubbing'? Can correct mistakes on individual tracks. Instruments can be recorded separately. Quality can be improved with a cleaner sound and tighter rhythm due to isolated recording. Allows for layering to thicken texture. You can keep many versions.
Which styles have influenced 'Blues' Music? Folk music, Spiritual songs, Work songs.
What are notable features of 'Blues' Music? Originally performed by solo singer with a guitar or banjo. Full of emotion, would tell the story of life and longing for better days. Simple time (4B/B) and mostly follows 12-bar blues chords. Guitarists can also ‘bend’ notes. Call and response.
What styles has influenced 'Rock'n'roll' Music? Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Country.
What are notable features of 'Rock'n'roll' Music? Audiences could listen on radios and increasingly on television. Mass production of 45 rpm vinyl records, or singles, meant it could be bought cheaply and easily. Electric guitar was a key development. Dancing music. Fast tempo, simple time, syncopation.
Which styles has influenced modern 'Pop' Music? Blues, Jazz, Folk, Gospel, Country.
What are notable features of 'Pop' Music? Structure is common to all pop. Tells a story.
What style did 'Rock' develop from? Rock'n'roll.
What are notable features of 'Rock' Music? Usually includes: Electric guitar, Bass guitar, Drum kit. Underpinned by a heavy beat. Distortion frequently used on electric guitar.
Which styles have influenced 'Reggae'? Mento, Rocksteady, Ska.
What are notable features of 'Reggae'? time signature of 4/4, with heavy accent placed on the 2nd and 4th beats of the bar. Strophic form. Vocals, backing vocals, electric guitars, bass guitar and drum kit. Prominent riff. Simple chord sequences. Reference to Rastafari (Religion).
What has influenced 'Rap'? Jamaican technique called ‘toasting’ - a cross between chanting and talking.
What are notable features of 'Rap'? Style of vocal delivery. Focuses on rhythm as opposed to melody or harmony. Improvisation or 'freestyle'.
Created by: Harvey Friend