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Music

PRODUCTION
COURSEWORK EDITION

Grade 7

All accompanying and supporting audio can be downloaded from: www.rslawards.com/downloads

Input the following code when prompted: R76VCHBY5M

For more information, turn to page 5

Cover Artist: Skepta

www.rslawards.com
Acknowledgements

Published by Rockschool Ltd. © 2016, 2018


Catalogue Number: RSK200087
ISBN: 978-1-78936-043-1
Initial Release | Errata details can be found at www.rslawards.com

SYLLABUS
Syllabus revised by Tim Bennett-Hart
Syllabus authoring by Ash Preston, Antony Greaves, Nik Preston and Max Wheeler
Syllabus advisors: Joe Rubel, Chad Jackson, Sam Vasanth and Hannah V
Edited by Simon Troup, Abbie Thomas, Zoe Woodroffe, Nik Preston and Grace Roberts

PUBLISHING
Cover design and artwork: Phil Millard
Original illustrations: Simon Troup
Typesetting and design: Simon Troup and Jennie Troup
Front cover photography: Skepta by Ollie Millington © Getty/Redferns

AUDIO
Audio composition: Ash Preston and Max Wheeler
Audio mixing and mastering: Ash Preston

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Norton York
John Simpson

IMAGES & ILLUSTRATIONS


Copyright info and credits for images and illustrations can be found below the image or in the image rights summary at the
back of the book.

SPECIAL THANKS
Ableton, Alesis, Apple, Audio-Technica, Avid, Drawmer, Fluid Mastering, Magix (Sequoia), Merging (Pyramix), Miditech,
MOTU, Neumann, Prismsound (SADiE), RME, RØDE, Samson Technologies, Sennheiser, Shure, Sound Technology,
Steinberg, TL Audio and Universal Audio.

PRINTING
Printed and bound in the United Kingdom by Caligraving Ltd.

CONTACT
RSL, Harlequin House, Ground Floor, 7 High Street, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 8EE
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Tel:  +44 (0)345 460 4747


Web:  www.rslawards.com
Email: info@rslawards.com

DISTRIBUTOR DISTRIBUTION | EUROPE DISTRIBUTION | AUSTRALIA


Hal Leonard Hal Leonard Europe Limited Hal Leonard Australia Pty. Ltd.
7777 West Bluemound Road Distribution Centre 4 Lentara Court
Milwaukee Newmarket Road Cheltenham
WI 53213 Bury St Edmunds Victoria
Email: info@halleonard.com Suffolk 3192
IP33 3YB Australia
Email: info@halleonardeurope.com Email: info@halleonard.com.au

2
Table of Contents

Introductions & Information

1 Title Page
2 Acknowledgements
3 Table of Contents
4 Welcome to Music Production – Grade 7
6 Entering Rockschool Exams
6 Marking Scheme

Section A | Music Production Theory

7 Summary
8 Music Production Terminology
13 Sound and Audio Fundamentals

Section B | Listening Skills

21 Summary
22 Sonic Fidelity
23 Music Theory & Harmony
25 Stylistic Awareness

Section C | Coursework Task

27 Summary
28 Technical Skills
29 Coursework Task

Sample Paper

33 Rockschool Music Production Grade 7 Exam – Sample Paper

Additional Information

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


42 Glossary
75 Useful Information (Non-assessed)
78 Image Copyright Information
79 Rockschool Digital Downloads
80 Rockschool Popular Music Theory

3
Welcome to Music Production – Grade 7

1991 saw a paradigm shift in UK music education with the inception of Rockschool graded syllabi and now, some
25 years later, over 350,000 contemporary musicians, performers and artists have been awarded Rockschool qualifications.
Subsequently, contemporary music education provision has seen universal acceptance from all areas of education and truly
phenomenal growth the world over.

In keeping with our history of innovation, Rockschool’s 25 year anniversary sees the release of the world’s first ever music
production graded syllabus. A syllabus that has been devised to afford opportunities to all aspiring producers, engineers,
composers and performers that has not previously been available in an accredited, graded syllabus. All students can now
develop their skills and knowledge in what is currently the fastest growing area of the music education industry whilst
earning a globally recognised qualification.

As with all Rockschool syllabi, academic rigour and industry relevance are crucial and the 2018 Music Production
Coursework Edition syllabus is no exception. The syllabus has seen contributions from hugely respected producers,
engineers, composers, performers and educators from a diverse range of backgrounds. Amongst their glowing list of
achievements, these industry experts can count credits such as:

■■ Blockbuster movie soundtracks


■■ Production and engineering duties for iconic, global artists
■■ Top ten singles
■■ Games soundtracks
■■ Conservatoire & university lecturing
■■ Degree programme authoring
■■ World DJ championships

Upon successful completion of Grade 8, all students will have demonstrated the skills and knowledge to progress to both
higher education and ultimately the professional ranks.

Whatever your desire, be it music producer, recording engineer, mix or mastering engineer, editor, electronic music
composer or merely to improve your knowledge of traditional and contemporary production techniques, this syllabus will
ensure you gain the most comprehensive range of skills and knowledge currently available.

Nik Preston – Head of Product Development and Publishing

Book Contents
The book is divided into a number of sections:

■■ Music Production Theory


Rockschool’s Music Production syllabus provides you with the necessary material needed to achieve an understanding of
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

key music production terminology, as well as sound and audio fundamentals, in relation to modern music production.

■■ Listening Skills
Using audio examples provided, you will learn how to demonstrate effective listening skills relevant to modern music
production. In this section, Rockschool’s Music Production syllabus looks at sonic fidelity, music theory & harmony
and stylistic awareness.

■■ Coursework Task
In order to enhance your technical skills, you will be asked to complete a coursework task which will demonstrate
your ability to use the digital audio workstation (DAW) of your choice.

You must complete the coursework task before your exam and will be asked to upload your task and screen shots
during the exam.

In this section you will be given the opportunity to demonstrate both your skills and creativity in a simulated
professional situation. You will be assessed on your ability to resolve industry standard scenarios using appropriate
4 techniques and your DAW of choice.
Audio and Media
In addition to the grade book, we have also provided audio to support both curriculum content and the sample exam paper.
This can be downloaded from RSL directly at www.rslawards.com/downloads

You will need to input this code when prompted: R76VCHBY5M

The audio files are supplied in MP3 and/or WAV format(s). Once downloaded you will be able to play them on any
compatible device.

You can find further details about Rockschool’s Music Production syllabus by downloading the syllabus specification from
our website: www.rslawards.com

All candidates should download and read the accompanying syllabus specification when using this grade book.

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

5
Entering Rockschool Exams

Entering a Rockschool exam is easy, just go online and follow our simple process. All details for entering online, dates, fees
and regulations can be found at www.rslawards.com

 ll candidates should ensure they bring the hard copy of their Grade syllabus book or their proof of digital purchase, their
A
coursework task and screen shots, and headphones to the exam.

All Grade 6–8 candidates must ensure that they bring valid photo ID to their exam.

Marking Scheme

MUSIC PRODUCTION GRADES 1–8

ELEMENT Pass Merit Distinction

PART A:
15–18 out of 25 19–20 out of 25 21–25 out of 25
TERMINOLOGY & FUNDAMENTALS

PART B:
9–10 out of 15 11–12 out of 15 13–15 out of 15
LISTENING SKILLS

PART C:
36–44 out of 60 45–50 out of 60 51–60 out of 60
COURSEWORK TASK

TOTAL MARKS 60%+ 75%+ 85%+


Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

6
Section A | Music Production Theory

© Yodchompoo/Shutterstock

SUMMARY

SECTION (Current section highlighted) MARKS

> Theoretical Written Exam 25 [25%]

Listening Test 15 [15%]

Coursework Task 60 [60%]

The Theoretical Written Exam section of Rockschool Music Production Examinations covers the following:

■■ Music Production Terminology


■■ Sound & Audio Fundamentals

At Grade 7 the theory content covered will include subject areas such as working around equipment faults, Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
format incompatibility, connectivity faults, software optimisation, latency, phase, stereo width, groove/
quantisation, signal noise and studio monitoring.

7
Section A | Music Production Theory

Music Production Terminology


There’s nothing worse than having a great idea, but not having the technology available to record it when that special
moment arrives.

Technical issues in the studio can normally be divided into three categories:
■■ Hardware problems
■■ Connection problems
■■ Software problems

Hardware Problems
Hardware problems relate to the equipment that you’re using, such as the mixing desk, microphone, computer, outboard
compressors or effects. It may be that the equipment isn’t switching on, the settings won’t change, the sound is distorted, or
many other possible issues.

Most hardware issues will require a qualified maintenance engineer to fix them. You can try switching the hardware
off for 30 seconds and then turning it back on again to see if the problem clears. If this doesn’t overcome the problem
the natural next step would be to try and swap the faulty item for another working one. This will help you confirm the
location of the problem.

If the problem is of an electrical or electronic nature, then do not try and repair it yourself unless you are qualified to do so.
You may make the problem worse, and there is a very real risk of electrocution if you don’t know what you are doing.

Connection Problems
Connection problems relate to how the hardware is connected, and include both the cables and the connectors at each end.
The most likely issues are that a connector has broken, or one of the wires in the cable has become disconnected from the
connector. It’s also possible that the cable has a break in it somewhere in the middle, so do a quick visual check for any kinks
or marks on the cable.

If the issue relates to an audio cable, then the best thing to do is swap it for another cable of the same type and see if that
solves the problem. If not, then it’s probably not the cable that is broken – unless you’re unlucky enough to have two broken
cables with the same issue.

A common problem with audio cables is hum, where an audio cable is lying too close to a mains cable. Using balanced
connections will reduce the potential for this issue arising. If you are using a balanced cable, it may be that the cable is faulty
and no longer balanced, or that the screen around the cable has been compromised.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

If a balanced cable is carrying less signal that it should, it may be that one of the two signal wires can become disconnected.
This would result in approximately a 6dB drop in level, as well as causing the system to become prone to interference.

If the problem relates to an electrical cable, then try swapping for another cable of the correct electrical rating. If you need to
change a fuse in a mains plug, always use one of the correct specifications (refer to the operation manual for the equipment).

If a fuse has blown, this is normally a sign of another problem. Replacing the fuse might be a short term fix, but you may not
have rectified the cause of the fuse blowing. If in doubt, consult a qualified technician.

8
Music Production Theory | Section A

Software Problems
Software problems relate to the various kinds of software installed on the computer. It could be that the software hasn’t been
installed correctly, that the preferences haven’t been set as they should, or it could be a bug that is preventing the software
working as intended.

This includes the operating system on the computer, which may require some tweaks to its settings in order to optimise the
computer for audio use.

There are numerous things you can do to optimise the operating system, which will vary dependant on the system you are
using. Here are a few examples to get you started:

Disable energy saving options, such as screen savers or putting the computer to sleep. Quite often, when recording, you
won’t touch the mouse for a long period of time, which will cause the computer to think it’s not being used. If it tries to go
to sleep, this could cause your recording to fail as the hard disk will try to park it’s read/write head. For the same reason, you
should keep laptop computers plugged in when using audio software to prevent the power running out mid-recording.

Disable bluetooth, unless you have to use it for your keyboard or mouse. As bluetooth is a wireless connection, it can cause
interference in the audio signal chain, although this is quite minimal and may not be noticeable in most cases.

Bluetooth devices also have to search for other devices in order to connect to them. This process uses some of the computer’s
processing power, which may happen at a critical point in your recording or mix, leaving your DAW short on resources.

Remove startup applications. As a general rule it’s best to have as fewer applications running as possible, as each application
will use up a percentage of your computer’s processing capabilities. Some applications install with the option to launch them
as soon as you turn on the computer, so it’s best to stop this happening and instead opt to load the applications when needed.

By optimising your operating system, you can minimise any potential errors in recording or playback and maximise the
efficiency of any processing that is required. This will also enable you to run more plugins or have more tracks of audio at
one time.

Fault Finding
The process of rectifying a problem is called ‘fault finding’, and this is a skill that is worth developing. Being able to quickly
find and rectify a problem, will enable your production session to keep running without any delays, and will help maintain
the creative flow.

The best way of approaching any problem is to be logical. Think about what should be happening, and then work backwards
from there until you find the cause of the problem.

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


For example, you might have a series of devices connected together such as a microphone, pre-amp and mixing desk. But
when you talk into the microphone, there is no sound coming from the mixing desk.

Microphone
Pre Amp

Cable

Cable Mixing Desk

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Section A | Music Production Theory

In this situation you have three devices and two cables that may causing the problem.

By following the principle of working backwards, start by checking the mixing desk. What happens if you input another
signal into the mixing desk, can you hear it? If you can, then you know that the mixing desk is fine. If not, then you know
that the issue relates to the desk.

Next, check the cable that connects the preamp to the mixing desk. The simplest thing to do is swap the cable for another of
the same type. If this fixes the problem then you know that the original cable needs fixing.

After this, check the preamp. If you have another preamp you could try, then you could try swapping it, if not then try
connecting the microphone directly to a microphone input on the mixing desk. It may be that you have a meter on the
preamp which shows you whether it is receiving a signal.

Mic Preamplifier
While the primary function of a VU meter is to monitor signal level in and/or out of a device, they can also be very
useful in more general fault finding scenarios.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

If there is no signal arriving at the preamp, then the problem is likely to be earlier in the signal path.

Next, check the cable that connects the microphone to the preamp in the same way as you did two steps ago.

Lastly, if you still haven’t resolved the problem, then you have narrowed it down to the last remaining device: The
microphone. Try replacing it with another microphone, being careful to disable any phantom power that’s active and lower
the channel volume on the mixing desk before disconnecting to avoid any nasty pops.

By the time you have reached the end of this process, you should have found the fault. If not, then start again and ensure
you are properly checking each link in the chain. The most effective way of confirming a fault is to swap the device or
cable for an alternative, but if this isn’t possible then you may need to be a little more creative in how you connect the
equipment together.

10
Music Production Theory | Section A

Metering
Some devices offer a meter to show the level of the signal that is entering that piece of equipment, and some devices offer
a further meter showing the level of the signal that is leaving. For example, on a mixing desk you might have a meter on
the channel which shows the signal coming in, and also a meter on the master output to show the level of the signal that is
leaving the desk.

Metering is also very useful for managing your signal to noise ratio. It is perfectly possible to use your ears to ensure that
the signal coming into a channel is as loud as it can be without distorting, however this leaves you open to making errors,
particularly when your ears are tired or there are multiple signals coming into multiple channels on the mixing desk.

By using the meters, you can quickly see that channel 7 (for example) is distorting because the meter is in the red or too
loud. You can also see that channel 3 is very quiet, which may result in a noisy recording. In both cases you can adjust the
gain on the channel to ensure the level entering the desk is at an appropriate level.

The optimum level will be somewhere around ‘0VU’, which is quite often amber in colour indicating that it’s approaching
the red but not hitting it.

Leave yourself some headroom when setting the input gain. Your signal may be peaking (distorting) in the amber during
rehearsal, but the drummer may get excited by the moment and hit his drums a little harder when it comes to record a take.
Keep an eye on your levels all the way through the recording, make a note of any instances of the level going into the red,
and ensure you listen back for any distortion at the end.

DAW Problems
Working within a digital audio workstation can create it’s own problems.

Latency
Latency is the delay that is caused by the digital processing of a system.

This might be the conversion from analogue to digital and back again, or it could be the considerable processing undertaken
by plugins when mixing.

Latency doesn’t generally cause problems during mixing, as most DAWs are able to compensate for the delay caused by any
plugins and ensure that each track plays in time with all the others. This is called ‘automatic delay compensation’.

However, this isn’t possible when recording as any delay that is induced by the DAW will cause the performing musician to
be out of time.

You can simulate this issue by increasing the buffer size in your DAW and then singing into a microphone while listening to
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
the output of the DAW. It’s really off putting for a singer to hear their voice coming back a few milliseconds later, which may
result in them singing out of time or even out of tune.

When recording the first take, it may be possible to set the buffer very low so that the latency is small enough that it doesn’t
put the singer off. But, if the session becomes complicated, with lots of plugins active, then you will need to increase the
buffer size to allow the computer to keep up with the required processing.

There are a few ways you can overcome latency while recording:

Low Latency Mode


Most DAWs will have something equivalent to a ‘low latency mode’. This effectively limits the amount of processing that
can happen on the channel that you are recording on, thereby minimising the delay. This won’t always solve the problem
if the session is particularly complex however.

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Section A | Music Production Theory

Direct Monitoring
While it’s good practice to always monitor the sound back from the DAW when recording so that you are aware of any
potential distortion or other audible artefacts, another alternative is to monitor the recording directly from the source
instead. This is bypassing all the processing that will still need to happening to the recording, you’re just not listening to it.

The downside of this method is that the singer won’t be able to have any reverb or other effects on their vocals while they
are performing.

Vocal Session File


The most effective solution is to record your vocals into a completely different DAW session, where minimal processing
will be required. Start by bouncing a mix of the backing track from your original session, then import this into a brand
new session. Record the vocals over that backing track then export just the vocal recording back into the original session
for the final mix.

Session Compatibility
As music is a collaborative art, it’s common that you will need to work with other producers who use a different recording
system to you. This may be a different DAW or may even be a hardware recording device such as magnetic tape.

There are a few ways to cope with these challenges:

Moving Files Between DAWs


If you need to transfer files between two computers running the same software, then it’s fairly simple to save the session
file and all associated audio and move it on to the other computer. Be careful to copy over all the associated audio files,
sample files, plugin settings etc. Some DAWs will allow you to ‘Save as Project’ (or similar term) which ensures that all
the associated media is packaged up ready for sharing.

However, if you need to transfer a file between two different DAWs, such as from Logic to Cubase, then the files will not
be compatible with each other.

Standard MIDI Files


If your arrangement is MIDI data only, then most DAWs will allow you to save or open MIDI files. These can then be
added to a new MIDI track or tracks in the receiving DAW.

OMF
If your arrangement also uses audio, there is a file format called OMF (open media framework) which may help.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Most DAWs will be capable of both saving and opening this file type, which is a stripped down version of the session file.
OMF has its limitations, as it will only save the basic arrangement, level and pan data. It won’t be able to save any plugins
or other settings specific to your DAW.

It can also be a little unreliable. This format should therefore be used sparingly.

Bounced Tracks
If you know that your part of a project is complete, and you are passing your work on to someone else to develop further
and mix, then an effective method is to bounce each track as a new audio file.

These audio files can then simply be loaded into any other DAW and will play back exactly how they left the original
DAW. The compromise is that none of the plugin settings or instrument sounds can be adjusted without repeating the
process in the original DAW.

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Music Production Theory | Section A

Stems
To simplify things even further, if you have already mixed the track, and the other producer doesn’t wish to start the mix
again from scratch, then you could create ‘stems’.

Stems are pre-mixed sections of the music, for example all the drums could be one stereo stem, while another stem
might be a mix of all the guitars.

This makes it possible for the person loading the stems to maintain the original mix of the drum kit, but with the
flexibility to be able to change the balance between the drums and the guitars.

Stems are also very popular in electronic music for remixing, where the producer may want to retain the original tone of
the recording but wants to manipulate the arrangement or create loops from individual elements.

Analogue Transfer
This is the most back to basics method. If none of the above are possible, then there is always the option to connect the
output of your DAW with the input of the other and simply press play and record. This relies on the other DAW being in
the same room of course.

As with any recording, remember to ensure a good signal level, and check the recording immediately afterwards for
distortion to limit any risk of nasty surprises later on.

Sound and Audio Fundamentals


Phase Issues
When using more than one microphone to record in the same space, the recording will be prone to phase related issues. This
is where the signal arriving at one microphone arrives at a different time to the other microphone. The two signals may then
be out of phase, causing constructive interference.

When listening to two microphones or recordings that are out of phase, you may notice that the lower end of the frequency
spectrum drops in level, leaving it sounding a little ‘thin’.

When you have one microphone panned left and the other right, and they are out of phase it can make you feel uneasy as
you move your head between the speakers.

If you are experiencing these issues while recording, then the best solution is to move the microphones until the effect is
minimised. Small movements of the microphone towards and away from the source should help. It is best to have someone
assist you in the live room, while you listen in the control room.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
Creating Stereo Width
When mixing, you may find that your mix sounds a little flat, or that some instruments don’t leap out of the arrangement as
much as you would like. Mono recordings can sound this way, so it may be that they would benefit from a little stereo width.

While there is no replacement for rerecording using a stereo microphone technique, it is possible to artificially make
something sound ‘more stereo’ than it actually is.

The principle used here is known as the ‘precedence effect’ (also known as the ‘Haas effect’), which was defined by Helmut
Haas. This explains that if a signal arrives at the left ear slightly earlier than the right ear, then the brain will be fooled into
thinking it is coming from the person’s left.

In order for this to work, the delay between the two needs to be short enough that it is not interpreted as an echo (typically
below 50ms).

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Section A | Music Production Theory

This effect can therefore be achieved with a stereo delay plugin, setting the left side to 0ms delay, and the right side to
somewhere below 50ms. The sound will seem like it’s coming from the left side of the room. The extent of the effect can
then be adjusted by altering the delay time or how wide the left and right sides of the delay are panned.

There are numerous other ways that plugins can be used to enhance the stereo width, such as:

Stereo Widening Plugins


These use a variety of technologies to simulate the stereo field, such as the precedence effect or dividing the frequency
spectrum into very small slices and splitting them between the left and right speaker.

Ping Pong Delay


This is a type of delay where each echo alternates between the left and right speaker. This is a very obvious effect, as
opposed to the more subtle precedence effect detailed above.

Chorus
This is a commonly used effect, particularly by guitarists in the 1980s. It simulates the variations in pitch and timing that
will be achieved by multiple performers playing the same piece of music.

Most plugins are available in either mono or stereo instances, so sometimes it can be as simple as adding a stereo plugin
rather than its mono equivalent.

Adding Feel
When working with MIDI recordings, it’s quite common to achieve an overly ‘wooden’ performance, particularly if the
timing has been corrected with the quantise function.

Most DAWs are able to manipulate timing using the quantise function, the notes values of which can be altered to ¼ notes,
⅛ notes, 1/16 notes and so on. In addition to this, your DAW may also offer the function to use a ‘groove template’.

A groove template is an altered version of a quantise grid, which alters the time location of the beats slightly to create a more
natural rhythmic feel. It may push or pull different beats slightly to create an intense push, lazy swing or other humanised
effect.

Modern DAWs can now apply this kind of timing manipulation to audio recordings as well as MIDI, using advanced
analysis of the audio waveform to determine where the notes start and end.

Velocities
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

As well as the rhythmic feel of a performance, it’s also easy for a MIDI performance to become dynamically rigid,
particularly if it has been programmed using a mouse rather than played in by a musician.

This will cause every drum hit to sound the same, which is very unnatural to the ear.

Use your MIDI piano roll editor to vary the velocities of the individual hits, placing accents on or off the beat depending on
the style of music.

Some DAWs also offer a ‘humanise’ function, which creates subtle variations to simulate the inaccuracy of a real
person’s performance.

Dedicated drum software instruments can also randomise the playback of drum samples to help make the recording
seem more natural.

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Music Production Theory | Section A

Nominal Line Level


The nominal line level is the invisible line that runs through all the equipment in the studio, defining how we measure the
signal level. If this didn’t exist we could assume the signal level on one device is ‘5’, while we define the same level on another
device as ‘8’.

Having a nominal line level means that everything is being measured on the same scale, which helps us control the signal
level, maximise our signal to noise ratio and prevent distortion.

There are two common reference levels used in audio equipment:


■■ +4dBu
■■ -10dBv

+4dBu
This is considered the professional level, and is most common in commercial studio equipment. Most balanced
equipment will operate at this level.

-10dBv
This is considered consumer level, although many professional pieces of equipment also operate at this level, either
because they are of a certain age, or they may have a switch to enable you to flick between +4 and -10 depending on the
kind of equipment you’re connecting it to.

There are two different ways of measuring level, one of which is measured in dBu and the other in dBv. The difference
in level between the two is approximately 12dB (not to be confused as 14dB – remember that they are measured using
different units).

Sometimes you may need to connect a piece of balanced equipment to a piece of unbalanced equipment and neither device
has a +4/-10 switch. For example, connecting the audio outputs of a keyboard to the microphone input of a mixing desk.

In this case a DI box (direct injection) can be used to match the levels of the two devices.

DI Box

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

15
Section A | Music Production Theory

Sound & Acoustics


Where the studio monitors are placed in a room can make a significant difference to what the listener hears. While a room’s
size or shape may have to be compromised due to the limitations of the space available, the placement of the speakers is
completely up to you.

By placing your monitor speakers close to a wall, the sound will not only travel to you directly, but will also bounce off the
wall, arriving at your ears a fraction of a second later. This will cause waveform interference, and therefore an unbalanced
frequency spectrum.

Placing your speakers in the corner of a room will enhance the lower frequencies due to the boundary effect. While it may
sound appealing to have more bass if you’re creating bass heavy music, remember that this is just what you are hearing in the
room and not what your mix actually sounds like.

Symmetry is the key to a good stereo image. If you were to t Rig


place the left speaker in a corner, and the right one in the Lef ht
middle of the room, then the bass will seem louder on the left.
The same goes for placing speakers next to reflective surfaces
such as windows, or next to doors.
-30° 0° 30°
The optimum position for speakers is in an equilateral triangle
with the listener, pointing down the length of the room to
minimise reflection from the back wall. Keep the speakers
away from the front wall too, aim to place the speakers a little
over a third of the way into the room if possible.
Sweet Spot

So far we have only considered the positioning of the


speakers in two dimensions, but their height should also be
considered. High frequencies are far more directional than
low frequencies, meaning it’s far easier to tell where a high
frequency sound originated.

Therefore the best position for the high frequency tweeters in


the speakers is at ear height when you’re sat in the optimum
listening position. This may require you to raise your speakers
away from the desk they are on, or place them on dedicated
speaker stands.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Isolating the speakers from a desk is a good idea regardless, as


the desk can resonate with the low frequencies of the speakers
which will also affect your perceived frequency spectrum. This
is referred to as ‘decoupling’. Rubber or foam isolation mats
can be purchased for this purpose.

In order to preserve the integrity of your stereo image, you


should orientate your speakers upright, so that the tweeters
are above the woofers. This will ensure that the high and low
frequencies are coming from the same place in the stereo field.

It’s worth taking the time to get the positioning right. If your
speakers are in the wrong place then you’re not really listening
to your mix accurately, which means your mixes will never be
as good as they could be.

16
Music Production Theory | Section A

Speaker / Studio Monitor Design


A speaker is a transducer which converts electrical energy into acoustic energy. It does so in completely the opposite way to
a microphone, i.e. where a dynamic microphone uses the acoustic energy in the air to vibrate a diaphragm which, in turn
moves a coil around a magnet to generate electrical current; a speaker uses electric current to make a coil move around a
magnet which in turn makes the speaker cone vibrate to generate sound.

Dynamic microphone

Microphone casing Diaphragm

Output

Sound
waves
in air

Direction
Magnet of coil Coil
movement

Loudspeaker

Support
Chassis Cone
Suspension

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


N
Permanent
Magnet
Air Sound
S Movement Wave
Moving
Voice
Coil
N
Input
Voltage Electrical
Signal leads

17
Section A | Music Production Theory

■■ The cone and magnet arrangement within the speaker is called the ‘driver’.
■■ The box that the speaker sits in is called the ‘cabinet’.

In most cases, it is possible to remove the driver from the cabinet for servicing. While the cabinet is unlikely to become
damaged, the driver may fail due to having too much level put through it, or it may simply become tired with age. Most
manufacturers will sell replacement drivers for their speakers.

A speaker’s design will vary depending on the manufacturer, the model and its purpose.

Some speakers will feature just one driver, which is used to reproduce sound across the frequency spectrum, while others
will use a separate woofer (for bass frequencies) and tweeter (for treble frequencies).

As the tweeter and woofer can be designed to reproduce In the same vein, some high end speakers will include
a smaller band of frequencies, the speaker will be more more drivers with three, four or more drivers in a
capable of representing all frequencies to a high standard. single cabinet.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

In order for a speaker to work, the signal needs to be amplified so that it is loud enough to be heard. Some speakers integrate
the amplifier into the cabinet itself (active speakers) while some speakers require a separate amplifier (passive speakers).

Active speakers therefore need an electrical supply to power the built in amplifier, whereas passive speakers acquire all the
power they need from the external amplifier’s output.

18
Music Production Theory | Section A

Speaker Cabinet Designs


Overall, there are three types of basic speaker cabinet design:

■■ Enclosed
■■ Reflex
■■ Transmission line

Enclosed
An enclosed cabinet is a sealed box, with the only holes in
the cabinet located where the drivers are mounted.

By using a sealed box design, the only way the sound can
escape is from the front of the speaker cone. The sound
created by the rear of the speaker cone is trapped inside
the cabinet, which prevents phase cancellation.

There are some drawbacks to this design, the sealed box


makes it difficult to create high sound pressure levels,
meaning these speakers can not be as loud as the other
designs. A side effect of this is that the low frequencies
may be prone to distortion.

Bass Reflex
The cabinet of a bass reflex (or ‘ported’) speaker is similar
to an enclosed design, except that there will be an opening
in the cabinet on the front or rear. As with all speakers,
when the cone is pushing out, the air in front of the cone
is being compressed (positive pressure), while the air
behind the cone is decompressed (negative pressure).

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


Therefore, the sound emanating from the rear of the
speaker cone will be the opposite polarity to the sound
coming from the front of the cone.

By controlling the reversed polarity version of the signal


at the rear of the cone, the speaker cabinet can ensure that
by the time it escapes through the port it is back in phase
with the sound at the front of the cone.

The result is a speaker design with a far better bass


response, capable of far higher sound pressure levels.

Bass reflex is the most common speaker design used today.

19
Section A | Music Production Theory

Transmission Line
A transmission line cabinet takes this porting concept
one stage further, by increasing the distance that the
sound from the rear of the cone must travel before it
escapes the cabinet.

By making this distance a multiple of the wavelength of


the sound, this makes it possible to tune the speaker to
reinforce certain frequency ranges. Complex mathematical
calculations are used in the design to ensure the
sound reproduction is as accurate as possible, without
overwhelming the listener with these bass frequencies.

Transmission line speakers are generally very expensive,


and only the higher end recording studios or mastering
suites are likely to have space for their physical size.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

20
Section B | Listening Skills

© Viktorus/Shutterstock

SUMMARY

SECTION (Current section highlighted) MARKS

Theoretical Written Exam 25 [25%]

> Listening Test 15 [15%]

Coursework Task 60 [60%]

The Listening Test section of Rockschool Music Production Examinations covers the following:

■■ Sonic Fidelity
■■ Music Theory & Harmony
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
■■ Stylistic Awareness

At Grade 7 the aural content covered will include subject areas such as identifying stereo phase issues
on instrument and full mix recordings, harmonic and melodic minor scales, son and rumba clave and
specific genres.

21
Section B | Listening Skills

Sonic Fidelity
Objective: Identify Phase Issues in Recordings
As a producer or sound engineer, your aural skills are extremely important as they enable you to hear the music and
production values, so be mindful to always look after them. Avoid listening to music too loud and always be cautious of
listening for too long. If you find yourself unavoidably subjected to high volume levels, be prepared to wear hearing protection.

Whilst it is difficult to improve your hearing per se, there are ways you can improve your aural skills. This can be achieved
by training your ears and brain to identify the sounds that you hear.

Your aural skills are associative in nature i.e. by associating particular labels to particular sounds, your brain will associate the
label with the sound and subsequently you’ll stand a greater chance of identifying (and ultimately using) these sounds in the
future. Always be prepared to listen intently and be aware that the producer’s analytical ear is one of his/her greatest tools.

Phase problems are a common issue in the production process, and the potential for these issues will grow as the number of
microphones or tracks of audio increases.

Phase issues occur when two waveforms combine and interfere with the frequency content of each other. This is often most
noticeable in lower frequencies, so concentrate on the low end when listening for phase issues. If the bass seems weak, then
it may be that some phase cancellation is occurring.

At Grade 7, the listening skills assessment will require you to identify phase issues in recordings of both single instruments
and mixes of instruments.

■■ In audio example LSG7SF1.mp3 you will hear a recording of a guitar without phase issues
■■ In audio example LSG7SF2.mp3 you will hear a recording of a guitar with phase issues
■■ In audio example LSG7SF3.mp3 you will hear a recording of a drum kit without phase issues
■■ In audio example LSG7SF4.mp3 you will hear a recording of a drum kit with phase issues
■■ In audio example LSG7SF5.mp3 you will hear a recording of a band without phase issues
■■ In audio example LSG7SF6.mp3 you will hear a recording of a band with phase issues

Please note, Rockschool uses the term ‘sonic fidelity’ to define anything of an audible nature, but it would be just as likely for this
to be referenced as ‘audio fidelity’ and subsequently both terms should be learnt.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

22
Listening Skills | Section B

Music Theory & Harmony


Objective: Identify Harmonic & Melodic Minor Scale

Melodic Minor
One way to view the melodic minor scale is to compare it to a natural minor scale – by raising the 6th and 7th degrees of
the natural minor scale by a semitone you arrive at the melodic minor scale. Another way is simply to imagine a major scale
with the third note flattened.

If you’re from a classical music background you’ll notice that there’s no mention of a descending version of the scale – in
popular music theory there is no such distinction as this is more of a compositional approach found in certain areas of
classical music.

The melodic minor scale is often used in jazz over vamps centred around chord Im, and you can hear this on Wes
Montgomery’s ‘S.O.S.’ from the album Full House. It’s often used in the melodies of other genres over functional and
secondary-dominant chords in minor keys, such as the “all my troubles” phrase in The Beatles’ song ‘Yesterday’ from the
album Help! (1965).

■■ In audio example LSG7H1.mp3, you will hear the C melodic minor scale ascending and descending.

Harmonic Minor
This scale is similar to the natural minor scale. To transform the natural minor into the harmonic minor, you only need
to change one note. Whereas the natural minor scale has a b 7 interval, the harmonic minor has a major 7th. The resulting
intervals are; 1 2 b 3 4 5 b 6 7. The spacing of these notes is: T S T T S m3 S. You may have noticed the jump from the b 6
to the 7th is now a minor 3rd, giving the scale an exotic flavour. There is also now a semitone between the 7th and the
root note, which creates a leading-note effect. This means that if you ascend the scale and pause on the 7th, it will sound
unresolved; go up another semitone to the tonic, and the resolution is very satisfying. This effect is the reason the harmonic
minor exists.

■■ In audio example LSG7H2.mp3, you will hear the C harmonic minor scale ascending and descending.

Objective: Clave 3:2/2:3 Son & Rumba


Certain Latin musical conventions have been adopted in a vast array of contemporary music and in recent times, many Latin
approaches to rhythm section parts can be found in a large amount of electronic music productions. The seemingly complex
arrangement of the percussion ensemble in Latin influenced music has had a profound effect on contemporary music and a
lot of the 21st century’s foremost producers have included such elements in relatively mainstream genres. The 3:2 son clave
can even be heard in famous Bo Diddley recordings and was popularised in the 1980’s by George Michael’s ‘Faith’.

A clave is a rhythmic pattern underpinning most Afro-Latin grooves such as rumba, son, mambo, bossa and many others. Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
The clave pattern was originally performed using claves (a percussion instrument consisting of two short wooden dowels)
but can also be performed on other percussion instruments like cowbells or timbales. Certain Latin musical conventions
have been adopted in a vast array of electronic music and in recent times, many Latin approaches to rhythm section parts
can be found in a large amount of electronic music productions

A clave is usually a two bar rhythm pattern with either three notes in the first bar and two notes in the second or vice versa.
These two formats are commonly referred to as 3:2 or 2:3 claves.

All the different forms of Afro-Latin music have their own clave, their own unique groove template. Here we are going to
discuss two of the most commonly used claves, the son and the rumba.

Both the son and rumba clave are 2 bar patterns and can therefore be thought of as 16 eighth notes (8 eighth notes per bar).

23
Section B | Listening Skills

3:2 Son Clave


In a 3:2 son clave the notes would be played on the following eight notes:

4 j
ã 4 ‚. ‚ ‚ ‚ Œ ‚ ‚ Œ

■■ In audio example LSG7R1.mp3, you will hear a 3:2 son clave against a click track.
f
2:3 Son Clave
If you were to switch the bars around, you would create a 2:3 son clave.

4 j
ã4 Œ ‚ ‚ Œ ‚. ‚ ‚ ‚

■■ In audio example LSG7R2.mp3, you will hear a 2:3 son clave against a click track.
f
3:2 Rumba Clave
The rumba clave is very similar to the son clave except its last note of the batch of 3 notes is delayed by an eighth note.

j j
ã 44 ‚ . ‚ ‚ ‚ Œ ‚ ‰ ‚ Œ

■■ In audio example LSG7R3.mp3, you will hear a 3:2 rumba clave against a click track.
f
2:3 Rumba Clave
As with the son clave, you can switch the bars of the 3:2 rumba clave to create a 2:3 version.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

j j
ã 44 Œ ‚ ‰ ‚ Œ ‚. ‚ ‚ ‚

■■ In audio example LSG7R4.mp3, you will hear a 2:3 rumba clave against a click track.
f

24
Listening Skills | Section B

Stylistic Awareness
Techno
Techno originated in Detroit during the early 1980s when avant-garde disco DJs and producers began experimenting with
electronic instrumentation. As disco evolved into house music in Chicago, Detroit artists like Derrick May, Juan Atkins and
Jeff Mills were taking further inspiration from European artists like Kraftwerk, pioneers of synthesized music during the
mid-seventies.

Although both house and techno share the four-to-the-floor kick drum approach and they both embraced the world
of drum machines and synthesizers early in their conception, house music kept a lot of disco and soul’s natural
instrumentation, albeit in cut up samples and loops, whilst techno seized the new sonic palette delivered by the new drum
machines, synthesizers and samplers of the 1980’s. It truly was ‘computer’ music.

Form and Arrangement


Standard song structures started to disappear in favour of more progressive form. Builds and changes within a piece
were driven by repetitive percussion patterns and long evolving sonic changes via synthesis, rather than musical changes.
It still employed melodic hooks from time to time but compared to its Chicago counterpart, it had become almost
completely instrumental. Any sporadic vocal use was almost always processed through a vocoder. A technique also
made popular by Kraftwerk.

Percussion Energy
With both the kick drum and synth bass parts keeping things fairly simple in techno, rarely straying beyond straight
quavers in any given measure, it becomes the job of the percussion to control the energy in a track. Drum machine
hi-hat, clap and shaker patterns, with heavy emphasis on the off-beat quavers, define different sections of a techno track,
much in the same way a good horn arrangement can re-energise a funk groove. Techno percussion is there to lift the
dynamics of a piece, much the same as in house music but with more intensity and repetition

■■ In audio example LSG7SA1.mp3 you will hear a techno recording

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

25
Section B | Listening Skills

Drum & Bass


Drum & Bass emerged out of the UK’s acid house and hardcore rave sound of the late eighties. Whereas house music of
that era was typically around 130bpm, drum & bass producers were using production techniques spawned from hip hop
(sampling and time-stretching) on classic funk breaks, increasing their tempo to upwards of 165bpm and using complex
edits to create new syncopated rhythms. As the genre developed in the early nineties, it began to split into two main
factions, drum & bass and jungle. Jungle kept the busy, time-stretched funk breaks but also incorporated vocal samples from
Jamaican dancehall and ragga. Drum & Bass however, started to strip its sound back so it really was essentially just drums
and bass, at least in its early days. The drum breaks in drum & bass became less complicated than in its jungle counterparts
and a more rigid, backbeat feel on the 2 & 4 started to be the norm. With this new locked-down backbeat and simpler drum
breaks in general, drum & bass had created more space in the tracks. This then allowed for more creative and complex
synthesized bass lines to emerge, completing the drum & bass sound.

Amen, Brother!
Arguably the most famous funk break ever to be sampled and used in drum & bass is the Amen Break, a loop sampled
from The Winston Brothers track, ‘Amen, Brother’. The Amen Break quickly became the staple loop of all drum & bass
producers and to date, can be found on tens of thousands of tracks. The drum & bass culture has made the Amen Break
such an iconic sound, that it can now be heard in almost all modern genres of electronic music from house to dubstep to
hardcore and beyond.

Regimented Structure
As a genre born out of DJ culture, drum & bass has kept to the strict structuring of its tracks and tends to follow the
following formula of; atmospheric intro with light drums setting the pace. This then leads into the first ‘drop’ of the main
drums and bassline together. This section usually repeats an 8 or 16 bar synth bass riff a few times, with some drum
fills and synth variations added to keep the listener interested. We are then usually presented with the breakdown, the
removal of drums and often the introduction of a new synth part providing some harmonic content. The breakdown
tends to build intensity with long crescendo drum fills and synth automation increasing the pitch. This rise in pitch and
drum dynamics serves to create tension, the release of which is then given in the form of the second ‘drop’ of the main
drum parts and bass riff. After 32 or possibly 64 bars at full intensity, the arrangement starts to get stripped back. The
basslines become sparse and the drums, although maintaining the tempo, become more laid back and the track descends
into its outro. The outro usually contains a long tail of pads sounds without much drum and percussion information.
This enables the DJ to smooth out the transition into the next track.

Modern Bass Synthesis


Drum & Bass production values have undoubtedly been the driving force behind modern synthesis and bass sound
design heard across all of today’s electronic and modern pop genres. As a genre, it strives for production excellence in
managing the balance between its punchy drums and complex basslines. Not necessarily complex harmonically, but in
their production and sonic manipulation. Drum & Bass producers are constantly resampling their own bass sounds,
treating them with various effects, like filtering, and stacking up layers of synthesized bass sounds in order to create that
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

next big, dirty bassline that will get everyone’s attention. It is now a very saturated market and highly competitive but
that has helped drive the advance in bassline sound design to the high standard we enjoy today. Artists like Noisia and
Black Sun Empire been at the forefront of the drum & bass sound design during the last decade. To hear the progress
drum & bass made in sound design, compare the 1998 track ‘Wormhole’ (a seminal track at the time by pioneers Ed
Rush & Optical) with the 2008 Noisia track, ‘Stigma’. You can hear how much fuller the bass sounds are in ‘Stigma’, as
they rip through both the mid-range and sub frequencies with multi-layered bass samples, aggressive saturation and lots
of edits to make a more complete and well-rounded drum & bass bassline.

■■ In audio example LSG7SA2.mp3 you will hear a drum & bass recording

26
Section C | Coursework Task

© pavel89l/Shutterstock

SUMMARY

SECTION (Current section highlighted) MARKS

Theoretical Written Exam 25 [25%]

Listening Test 15 [15%]

> Coursework Task 60 [60%]

At Grade 7 the Technical Skills will centre around correcting the timing in a performance. In the Coursework Task,
the candidate may choose to specialise in Audio Production, Electronic Music Production or Sound for Media:

■■ Audio Production: The scenario will focus on creating a harmony to a vocal performance from a range
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
of software techniques
■■ Electronic Music Production: The scenario will require a drum break to be edited and retimed to a
new tempo
■■ Sound for Media: The scenario will require the candidate to create a sonic solution to an animated logo

Candidates must complete the Coursework Task before their exam and will be asked to upload the Task and
screen shots during their exam.

27
Section C | Coursework Task

Technical Skills
No one is perfect, and mistakes happen. Sometimes mistakes happen at the worst possible time for example, in the middle of
a fantastic take.

It was not long ago that technology was such, that if a musician made a mistake during a recording, the only option would
be to start the recording again from the beginning.

Modern DAWs have a wealth of editing functions available to enable a producer or sound engineer to tweak both the timing
and pitch of an individual note in the middle of a take.

There are numerous ways of correcting the timing of a performance with a DAW, but these can generally be split into two
methods: manual editing and automated editing.

Manual editing would involve finding and isolating the problem note, then moving it on the timeline to the correct place.
This is particularly time consuming and it takes a very keen ear to be able to put something perfectly in time.

Automated editing could include a large number of solutions as provided by your DAW. These may include flex time
(Logic), elastic time (Pro Tools) and audio warp (Cubase).

These functions enable the user to automatically sense the transient of each note, add a marker to this place in the audio
file, and then allow manipulation of where that marker is in time without affect the audio around it. It achieves this by
stretching the audio between the chosen marker and the markers before and after, while nothing beyond those adjacent
markers is affected.

Not only can this function be used for corrective purposes, it can also be used creatively. It will allow you to try new timing
patterns for a performance, without having to re-record the part.

Stretching the audio in an extreme way can also create some interesting sound effects.

When editing a multi-miked recording such as a drum kit, care should be taken to ensure that every microphone’s signal is
editing in the exact same way. Failure to do this is likely to result in phase issues. This can be achieved by grouping all the
drum tracks together and editing them as one.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

28
Coursework Task | Section C

Coursework Task
At Grade 7, you will be able to specialise in one of three areas:
■■ Audio Production – focusing on traditional studio production technique.
■■ Electronic Music Production – focusing on techniques for electronic music genres.
■■ Sound For Media – focusing on techniques relevant to Film and TV sound.

Audio Production
As outlined in the Technical Skills section, there are numerous flexible tools available to you in your DAW which enable you
to manipulate the timing and pitch of a performance.

And in the same way, these pitch correction tools can be used to correct errors or for creative purposes to experiment or
enhance the recording.

For example, the singer may have pitched perfectly but you want to try a different melody to see if it works better. Or you
may wish to insert a key change for the last chorus. Or you may want to duplicate a vocal and alter the pitch so that it
harmonises with the original.

For the Audio Production Grade 7 Coursework Task you will be required to create a harmony for a vocal performance from
a range of software techniques.

Electronic Music Production


Electronic music has benefitted greatly from the wealth of editing tools available in modern DAWs, particularly the ability to
manipulate pitch and time.

It is less likely in electronic music that you want to correct the timing of a performance, but as you will be assembling audio
from lots of different sources (samples), you are quite likely to want to change the tempo of a piece of audio completely.

For the Electronic Music Production Grade 7 Coursework Task you will be required to edit and retime a drum break to a
new tempo.

Sound For Media


Sound design is a varied vocation and you may find you’re working on a live action film one week, then an animation, TV
show or computer game the next. Another source of income to consider is sound for advertising.

Many corporations have logos and images which represent them such as the Microsoft Windows logo, or the bitten apple
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
which represents the tech giant Apple. When the imagery is used on screen, it will also have a sonic ident to go with it.

For the Sound For Media Grade 7 Coursework Task you will be required to create a sonic solution for a corporate ident.

[continued on next page]

29
Section C | Coursework Task

Coursework Task 60 Marks [60%]


Assets for this task can be found
in the book’s downloadable files

Audio production:

You have recorded with a vocalist for an important project but the label has requested more ‘harmony’ and the singer
is now unavailable for two weeks as they are on tour. Create your own harmonies using your DAW’s pitch shifting
capabilities and make sure that they are musically ‘pleasant’.

Once you are happy with your solution, render the master as a stereo WAV/AIF file (16bit / 44.1kHz) and upload.

Submission during your exam:

1. Submit a WAV/AIF file (16bit / 44.1kHz) of your finished work


2. Upload a screen shot of your main arrangement view (including pitch shifting) and mixer view

Electronic Music Production:

A TV & Film Sync agency has told you they have an opportunity for a Drum and Bass track, but that it must pass sample
clearance copyright laws. They have supplied a drum break - create a 16 bar DnB break loop with fills every 4 bars from
it as a starting point for your composition. They have also included a recording of a ride cymbal to be used over the
break but you have noticed its timing is very sloppy. Use your DAW’s time correction tools to fix the timing of the ride
cymbal and then layer it over your breaks.

Bar 2 beat 3 late


Bar 3 beat 4 early
Bar 5 beat 1 late
Bar 7 beat 2 early
Bar 8 beat 2 late

Once you are happy with your solution, render the master as a stereo WAV/AIF file (16bit / 44.1kHz) and upload.

Submission during your exam:


Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

1. Submit a WAV/AIF file (16bit / 44.1kHz) of your finished work


2. Upload a screen shot of your main arrangement view (including time alterations) and mixer view

30
Coursework Task | Section C

Sound for Media:

A friend’s new web business needs music for a corporate video. The brief is ‘Disrupt, Create, Innovate’ and the video
needs to show how they plan to revolutionise online gaming. Create a suitable soundtrack using DAW drums, a
chord progression, bassline and melodies, making sure to emphasise the hit-points and events in the video, whilst
making sure it is restrained enough not to cause conflict with the video’s voice-over dialogue, which will be added by
another producer at a later date. Your friend has specified that there must be a constant bed of sound throughout the
video and that it should emphasise the forward leaning nature of the company by using audio that suggests futuristic
technology at work.

Once you are happy with your solution, render the master as a stereo WAV/AIF file (16bit / 44.1kHz) and upload.

Submission during your exam:

1. Submit a completed video with audio (e.g. .mov/.avi/mp4) of your finished work
2. Upload a screen shot of your main arrangement view and mixer view

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

31
32
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
Sample Paper

© Evgeny Drablenkov/Shutterstock

The following pages contain examples of the types of questions you will find in the Rockschool Music
Production Grade 7 exam. They give an indication of the content, format, layout and level at this grade.

You will see the sample paper has been split into the same three sections that have been presented earlier in
this workbook:

■■ Part A: Theory
■■ Part B: Listening
■■ Part C: Coursework Task

Please visit www.rslawards.com for detailed information on all Rockschool examinations, including syllabus
specifications, marking schemes and examination entry information.

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

33
Grade 7 | Sample Paper

Part A: Theory (25%)

Section 1 | Music Production Terminology Total marks for this section: 10

Mark:

Q 1.01 | You don’t seem to be getting any audio into your mixing desk from your microphone, what is the 1
best method for identifying which piece of equipment is at fault?

Your answer:

Q 1.02 | Who should you consult if you have an electrical problem? 1

Your answer:

Q 1.03 | What does OMF stand for? 1

Your answer:

Q 1.04 | In a DAW, what does ‘Save as Project’ do? 1


Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Your answer:

Q 1.05 | Your microphone cable seems quiet. The equipment it is connected to seems fine, what is likely to 1
be the problem?

Your answer:

34
Sample Paper | Grade 7

Q 1.06 | What problem might you have if you lay your audio cables next to mains electrical cables? 1

Your answer:

Q 1.07 | Why should you disable energy saving options such as screensavers when working with audio? 1

Your answer:

Q 1.08 | Why should you remove startup applications? 1

Your answer:

Q 1.09 | What is latency? 1

Your answer:

Q 1.10 | What is direct monitoring, commonly found on audio interfaces? 1 Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Your answer:

35
Grade 7 | Sample Paper

Section 2: Sound & Audio Fundamentals Total marks for this section: 10

Mark:

Q 2.01 | What might make a stereo recording sound particularly thin? 1

Your answer:

Q 2.02 | How might you overcome phase issues when stereo recording? 1

Your answer:

Q 2.03 | You have a mono signal, which you want to give width to, how might you do this? 1

Your answer:

Q 2.04 | What is the HAAS effect otherwise known as? 1

Your answer:
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Q 2.05 | What are groove templates? 1

Your answer:

36
Sample Paper | Grade 7

Q 2.06 | As well as changing the timing, what else can you change to make a recording seem more natural? 1

Your answer:

Q 2.07 | You need to connect a keyboard to your mixing desk but when you connect the keyboard’s output to 1
the line input, the signal is noisy. What device could you use to overcome this?

Your answer:

Q 2.08 | What is the level difference between consumer and professional audio equipment? 1

Your answer:

Q 2.09 | What is the optimum angle that your studio monitors should be at in relation to your 1
listening position?

Your answer:

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Q 2.10 | What happens if you place your studio monitors in the corner of the room? 1

Your answer:

37
Grade 7 | Sample Paper

Section 3: Glossary Total marks for this section: 5

Mark:

Q 3.01 | What is ADR short for? 1

Your answer:

Q 3.02 | What is close miking? 1

Your answer:

Q 3.03 | What is a continuity meter? 1

Your answer:

Q 3.04 | What is DSP short for? 1

Your answer:
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Q 3.05 | What is a ground loop? 1

Your answer:

38
Sample Paper | Grade 7

Part B: Listening (15%)

Section 4: Listening Skills Total marks for this section: 15

Mark:

You have been provided with a selection of audio files to enable you to answer the following questions.

Q 4.01 | You will hear two solo instrument recordings (audio file EXLSG7SF1.wav). Which one has 3
phase issues? (Tick one box)

§A
§B

Q 4.02 | Out of the two solo drum recordings (audio file EXLSG8SF2.wav), which has phase issues? 3
(Tick one box)

§A
§B

Q 4.03 | Out of the two full mixes (audio file EXLSG7SF3.wav), which has phase issues? (Tick one box) 3

§A
§B

Q 4.04 | You will hear two piano scales (audio file EXLSG7H1.mp3). Which one is a harmonic minor? 1
(Tick one box)
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
§A
§B

Q 4.05 | You will hear two piano scales (audio file EXLSG7H2.mp3). Which one is a melodic minor? 1
(Tick one box)

§A
§B

39
Grade 7 | Sample Paper

Q 4.06 | Identify the following 4 bar clave: (Audio file EXLSG7R1.mp3)(Tick one box) 1

§ 3:2 Rumba clave


§ 2:3 Rumba clave
§ 3:2 Son clave
§ 2:3 Son clave

Q 4.07 | Identify the following 4 bar clave: (Audio file EXLSG7R2.mp3)(Tick one box) 1

§ 3:2 Rumba clave


§ 2:3 Rumba clave
§ 3:2 Son clave
§ 2:3 Son clave

Q 4.08 | In which genre would you classify the following audio clip? (Audio file EXLSG7SA.mp3) 2
(Tick one box)

§ Drum & Bass


§ House
§ Techno
§ Modern R’n’B
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

40
Sample Paper | Grade 7

Part C: Coursework Task (60%)

Section 5: Coursework Task Total marks for this section: 60


15

Mark:

Q 5.01 | Bring your coursework task and screen shots to your exam – you will be asked to upload these 60
during the exam. There will also be a number of questions for you to answer regarding the task.
These will focus on:

■■ The skills used to complete the task


■■ How you approached the professional nature of the task
■■ How you interpreted the creative elements

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

41
Glossary

1/4” Jack
A kind of jack connector with a diameter of approximately 1/4".

2.1 Sound
An audio format which uses the traditional left and right of stereo but adds a subwoofer. The subwoofer does not have
its own discrete channel, but rather is fed the lower frequencies of the left and right signal via a crossover.

3.5mm Jack
Also known as mini-jack. A kind of jack connector with a diameter of approximately 3.5mm. Most commonly used by
consumer headphones.

5.1 Surround Sound


A surround sound format which uses 6 speakers: left, centre, right, left surround, right surround and subwoofer.

7.1 Surround Sound


A surround sound format which uses 8 speakers: left, centre, right, left surround, right surround, left back surround,
right back surround and subwoofer.

AB
A stereo microphone technique where two omnidirectional microphones are placed apart from each other, where their
placement adheres to the 3:1 rule. This technique provides a very wide stereo image.

Ableton Live
A digital audio workstation which is very popular with electronic musicians due to its focus on real time interaction.

Acoustic Instrument
A musical instrument which creates sound without the need for electrical power. For example, an acoustic guitar, drum
or piano.

ADAT Lightpipe
An optical digital data transfer connection, capable of transferring 8 channels of high quality audio at once.

Additive Synthesis
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

A synthesis method that builds waveforms by adding sine waves together.

ADSR
Attack, decay, sustain and release are the four stages of an envelope that describe the shape of a sound over time.

AFL
An initialism of ‘after fade listen’, used to solo a channel after the fader.

After Touch
A force that is applied by a performer to the key on a controller after it has been initially pressed.

42
Glossary

.aif
A file suffix (also known as .aiff) used for AIFF files.

AIFF
An acronym of ‘audio interchange file format’. This file format is considered high quality as it is a lossless format. It has
largely been superseded by Wav in the interest of compatibility.

AKG C1000
A rugged condenser microphone, often used in live situations to amplify drum kits.

AKG C414
A high quality large diaphragm condenser microphone with a switchable polar pattern, mainly used in studio situations
for instruments such as acoustic guitars, pianos and vocals.

AKG C451 \ AKG C451B


A small condenser microphone with good balance between quality and price. Often used for stereo miking acoustic
guitars or drum kits.

AKG D112
An industry standard dynamic microphone, most commonly used for recording kick drums.

Algorithm
A code supplied to a computer for the purpose of solving a problem, such as how to create artificial reverb.

Aliasing
A digital audio term for ‘ghost’ frequencies’, created when trying to record frequencies greater than one-half the system’s
sample rate.

All Notes Off


A message sent to a MIDI device to instruct it to cease generation of all MIDI notes.

Ambience
The sound that a room or space adds to the original sound source.

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


Ambient
The ambience features highly in the sound.

Amp/Amplifier
An electrical or electronic device which increases the amplitude of a signal.

Amplitude
The measurement of the change in atmospheric pressure caused by sound waves.

Analogue
Constantly varying. Refers to audio devices which are not digital.

43
Glossary

Analogue Synthesis
The method of sound synthesis which relies on standard waveforms to create new sounds. The amplitude, frequency and
harmonic content of these waveforms can be manipulated to produce an infinite number of differing results.

App Store
An abbreviation of ‘application store’, an online cloud based service which provides access to new applications. Many
software companies use an application store, such as Apple, Microsoft and Google.

Arpeggiator
A device which takes the notes of a chord and plays them sequentially.

Arrange Window
The main area of a DAW which enables the user to organise and edit audio clips.

Artist Manager
The person or company who looks after the interests of the artist. This might include negotiating their contracts,
managing finances, organising transport and other logistics, or managing their diary to ensure they are in the right place
at the right time.

Attack
Attack represents the time the sound takes to rise from an initial value of zero to its maximum level. On a compressor
or gate the attack control is user to define how much of the audio signal’s transient is allowed to pass before the device
reacts.

Attenuate
To make quieter.

Audio File
An audio recording in digital format, most commonly on a computer system.

Audio Interface
The computer peripheral which enables the user to input and output audio from a computer, converting the analogue
sound into digital when recording and the digital back into audio when played back.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Audio Track
A type of channel in a DAW which is used for recording or playing back audio files.

Automation
The function which automates the variation of settings in a DAW or high level mixing desk.

Automation Track/Lane
A type of channel view in a DAW which shows the automation recorded to that channel. In most DAWs the automation
is overlayed on top of the recorded audio or other channel content.

Aux
An abbreviation of ‘auxiliary’.

44
Glossary

Auxiliary
This refers to the function of a mixing desk which can send part of a signal in a channel to an additional destination.
Often used for sending a varying amount of signal to a reverb or other effects.

Auxiliary Track
A type of channel in a DAW which is used purely for routing and processing audio.

Backup
A copy of the materials from a project created to ensure that nothing is lost if the originals are damaged.

Balanced
A type of connection between two devices which uses a twin core and screen cable, using common mode rejection to
reduce external interference. Commonly uses either XLR, 1/4” jack or bantam connectors.

Bandpass Filter
A type of filter which removes frequencies above and below a determined frequency.

Bandwidth
The range of audio frequencies which directly influence the fidelity of a sound.

Bass Guitar
A kind of guitar with a register that is one octave below a traditionally pitched guitar. In its most common 4-string
format, the pitching mirrors the lowest four strings of a traditional guitar.

Binary
A mathematical term used in digital electronics. A binary number is a number expressed as either a 0 or 1, referring to
‘off ’ and ‘on’, or in simple terms ‘there is no electricity’ or ‘there is electricity’.

Bit
One binary digit.

Bit Depth
The accuracy with which the amplitude of a signal can be measured when sampling. A higher bit depth achieves better

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


quality.

Bluetooth
A wireless connection technology, mainly used for consumer peripherals such as connecting mice or keyboards to
computers or connecting mobile telephones to handsfree devices.

Boost
To raise the level of an audio signal or part of an audio signal in the case of equalisation.

Bounce
The creation of a new mix file from the audible elements of a session.

45
Glossary

Budget
An amount of money invested to fund a project.

Bus
An internal connection in a mixing desk that carries the signal from one place to another. Also emulated in DAWs,
sometimes referred to as ‘sends’.

Cable
A wire which connects two devices, normally coated in rubber or plastic for durability.

.caf
A file suffix used for CAF files.

CAF
An acronym of ‘core audio format’. This is a file format developed by Apple, to enable users to create large file sizes for
example, long audio recordings.

Capacitor
An electronic component, containing two opposing conductive plates with a voltage potential difference across them. A
capacitor is a core component in a condenser microphone.

Cardioid
A microphone polar pattern. Cardioid pattern mics are most sensitive to sounds in front of the mic, rejecting sounds
from the rear.

Cashflow
A way of tracking how much money is available over time. Cash Flow is different to a budget as it takes account of any
money coming in as time passes.

CD
An abbreviation of ‘compact disc’.

CD-ROM
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

An acronym of ‘compact disc read only memory’. CDs can store both audio for playback on consumer CD players, or
data for retrieval by computers using a CD-ROM drive.

Cello
A wooden stringed-instrument with four tuned strings. Commonly used in classical music as well as many other genres.
It is larger than a viola, giving it a deeper sound and lower pitch.

Channel (MIDI)
One of 16 different paths of data that can be used to carry MIDI messages.

Channel (Mixing Desk)


A default signal path through a mixing desk. A mixing desk will have a set number of channels, each of which will be
numbered.

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Glossary

Chord
A musical collection of notes, played at the same time to form harmony.

Chord Progression
A sequence of chords.

Chorusing
An effect which makes a single sound appear to sound like an ensemble. The signal is duplicated and delayed slightly
with a subtle variation of pitch. These time and pitch differences are controlled by a low frequency oscillator (LFO) to
provide a subtle variation to the sound.

Chrome
An internet browser created and developed by Google.

Close Miking
A microphone technique where a microphone is placed close to an instrument, so as to minimise the spill from other
instruments or the effects of the room reverberation.

Cloud Storage
An area of file storage based on a remote server, which can only be accessed via an internet connection. This makes it
possible to share or work on files from any location with an internet connection, greatly aiding collaboration.

Coincident Pair
A type of XY stereo microphone technique where the capsules are as close together as possible.

Collaboration
A method of working which involves working with others with the shared goal of achieving something greater than what
may have been achieved in isolation.

Compact Disc
An optical digital audio medium used for sharing music. Compact disc was the largest selling music medium from the
late 80’s to early 2000s and remains widely used. A CD can hold 74 minutes of stereo audio, or up to 700MB of data.

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


Compression Pumping
An effect achieved by using a compressor’s sidechain input to trigger high ratio dramatic compression on the rest of
a track, using a kick drum or other fast transient audio signal. The effect of this pumping can be adjusted with the
compressor’s attack and release controls.

Compressor
An audio device which reduces the dynamic range of a signal.

Computer
The hardware which hosts the DAW software, typically an Apple Macintosh or Windows PC.

47
Glossary

Computer Keyboard
A computer peripheral used for entering letters into a computer. It can also be used with certain software applications to
trigger shortcut functions.

Condenser
A microphone design which uses a capacitor and requires 48v phantom power. Achieves a crisp and clear sound.

Console
Also known as mixing desk or mixing console.

Constructive Interference
When two or more waveforms are combined, a new waveform is produced which is a sum of the originals.

Continuous Controller
A type of MIDI message that is generated by the movement of a variable controller, such as the pitch bend or
modulation wheel.

Contrabass
A wooden stringed-instrument with four tuned strings. Commonly used in classical music as well as many other genres.
It is larger than a cello, giving it a deeper sound and lower pitch. It is commonly transposed up an octave due to the
notes it is capable of, requiring excessive ledger lines making it difficult to read.

Control Room
The part of a recording studio where the sound engineer will operate the equipment, such as the mixing desk.

Controller Keyboard
An emulation of the piano which is unable to generate sounds on its own. It will generally be MIDI enabled so will use
the MIDI protocol to trigger sounds on a synthesiser.

Copy
A computer software function, common to most software which takes a selected proportion and copies it to the
clipboard (RAM).
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

CPU
An abbreviation of ‘central processing unit’. A silicon chip that performs calculations and acts as the ‘brain’ of a
computer.

Crossover
An electronic device which divides up the frequency spectrum so that the different frequency ranges can be sent to
different speakers. For example, a tweeter for high frequencies and woofer for lower frequencies.

Cubase
A digital audio workstation (DAW) created and developed by Steinberg.

48
Glossary

Cut
Another name used for mute, used to silence signal paths on a mixing desk, e.g. channel or auxiliaries. Also used to refer
to a reduction in level when using equalisation.

Cut
A computer software function, common to most software which takes a selected proportion and copies it to the
clipboard (RAM) while simultaneously deleting it from its original location.

D-Sub
A kind of connector used in computing and audio applications, which has multiple pins. There are numerous sizes,
the most common of which in audio technology would be the DB-25, which has twenty five pins capable of carrying
8 channels of balanced analogue audio (either 8 in one direction or 4 in and 4 out). It may also be used in digital audio
applications using the TDIF standard.

DAT
An abbreviation of ‘digital audio tape’.

DAW
An abbreviation of ‘digital audio workstation’.

De-esser
A device which is used to balance out the sibilance in a performance. It combines a compressor and EQ in one device.
The EQ is used to boost the sibilant frequencies of the input (normally a vocal) which causes the compressor to
compress these frequencies more than the others.

Deadline
The agreed time by which a project must be delivered.

Decay
In synthesis, decay is the time taken for the signal to fall to the sustain level.

Delay
An echo effect.

Delete Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


A computer software function, common to most software which removes a selected portion.

Destructive Editing
The editing of an original file or recording which cannot be undone.

Digital
A digital device uses binary to function.

Digital Audio
Audio recorded to a digital device such as a computer.

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Glossary

Digital Audio Tape


A linear medium which uses tape to record sound as digital data. Introduced in 1987, it was once the industry standard
for recording final mixes before sending to be duplicated.

Digital Audio Workstation


Music production software for recording and editing MIDI and audio data. Examples include Cubase, Logic, Pro Tools,
Garageband and Ableton Live. The DAW can be used for recording audio, editing audio, cutting up and rearranging
audio recordings and loops, mixing, creating MP3 files and many other functions.

Digital Signal Processing


The action of a computer processor altering an audio signal. DSP can be native (using the computer’s CPU) or using a
dedicated DSP hardware for example, in high end Pro Tools systems or UAD peripherals.

Digital Synthesis
Artificial sound synthesis, generated using a digital system.

DIN
A five pin plug or socket, most commonly used by MIDI devices but can also carry audio when connected to audio devices.

Distortion
When the maximum sound level of an analogue device is exceeded. Unlike digital clipping, analogue distortion can be
appealing for example, when overloading a guitar amplifier.

DJ
A performer who plays back pre-recorded material, crossfading between tracks. A modern DJ may also create content of
his own for playback and interact with the music.

Drum Editor
A piano roll style DAW editor but tuned to enable easier drum editing.

Drum Kit
A rhythmic instrument commonly used in modern music, featuring a combination of drums and cymbals.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Drum Machine
A hardware device or software instrument used to create drum patterns.

Dry
With no effects added to the signal.

DSP
An initialism of ‘digital signal processing’.

Duck
When the duck function is active, the signal arriving at the key input causes the signal at the input to lower in level.

50
Glossary

Duplicate
A computer software function, common to most software which takes a selected portion and replicates it immediately
after the original instance.

DVD
An initialism of ‘digital versatile disc’. An optical format much like a CD, but with far greater storage capacity. This made
it the standard for consumer video playback.

DVD-ROM
DVDs can be used to store video content for playback on consumer DVD players, or data which can be retrieved by
computer systems using a DVD-ROM drive. This is a cost effective medium for sharing large session files with others if a
network transfer isn’t practical.

Dynamic
A microphone design which uses electro-magnetism to convert acoustic energy into electrical energy.

Dynamic Range
The difference in decibels between the quietest and the loudest points in a signal, or the noise floor and the maximum
level an audio system can handle.

Dynamics
The variation in perceived level of a mix.

Ear
The part of the human body which enables us to hear sound. It converts acoustic energy into electrical nerve impulses
for the brain to interpret as audio.

Echo
When a sound bounces off a surface and returns to the listener later than the original sound. Emulated in audio
production using a delay effect.

Editing
The process of altering the arrangement of recorded audio or MIDI data in order to composite a more favourable
version.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
Effects
Hardware devices or plugins which are used to enhance or alter the sound such as reverb, delays, chorus, flange, phasing
and many others.

Electric Guitar
A guitar which uses an electromagnetic pickup to convert the vibrations in the strings to waves of electricity, which is
then amplified to create sound.

Electrical Sound Source


A source of sound which is created through electrical means for example, a synthesiser.

51
Glossary

Electronic Drum Kit


A set of MIDI triggers which are arranged like a real drumkit, allowing a drummer to perform quietly using artificial
synthesised sounds.

Electronic Drums
A synthesised drum kit, which can be played using specialist triggers, such as an electronic drum kit or pads.

Electrostatic
Another name given to a condenser or capacitor microphone.

Emulation
The effect of recreating something analogue in the digital domain for example, a software instrument piano is an
emulation of a real piano.

Envelope
Changes in sound over time: attack, decay, sustain and release.

Envelope Generator
A device which generates an attack, decay, sustain and release signal for processing in synthesis.

EQ
An abbreviation of ‘equaliser’, a function which alters the tone of the input signal.

Equalisation
The process of changing the frequency content, tone or timbre of an audio signal.

Error Correction
A process undertaken by a digital audio system to replace missing data from a waveform.

Ethernet
The name given to the networking standards of LAN devices. It most commonly uses an RJ45 cable.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Event Editor
A DAW editor window which enables the editing of individual MIDI events using text.

Expander
An audio device which works much like the opposite of a compressor, in that it increases the dynamic range of a signal
so that the quiet signals are made even quieter. It can be used instead of a gate to achieve a more natural effect.

Expenditure
Money that is spent on a project.

Fade In
To gradually increase an audio signal from nothing to its normal level.

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Glossary

Fade Out
To gradually reduce the level of a signal until it disappears.

Fader
The component on a mixing desk which adjusts the channel level. Faders are also emulated in DAWs.

Filter
A type of equaliser that removes certain frequencies, depending on the type of filter.

Finder
The area of the Apple OSX operating system which enables users to organise files and folders.

Firefox
An internet browser created and developed by Mozilla.

Firewire
A peripheral connection with two different versions available; Firewire 400 and 800. The number represents the speed in
Mbps. It may also be referred to as IEEE 1394.

FL Studio
A digital audio workstation, originally called ‘Fruity Loops’ but renamed as it grew more popular. Created and developed
by Image-Line.

FLAC
An acronym of ‘free lossless audio coding’. A lossless audio format which features a smaller file size than Wav, but
without losing quality like MP3.

Flange
A modulation effect which uses a delayed version of the signal mixed in with the original, with the time difference
altered over time by a low frequency oscillator.

Frequency
The rate at which something vibrates, measured in cycles per second (Hertz/Hz). In sound, the higher the frequency of a

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


sound wave then the higher the pitch that we hear.

Fundamental Frequency
The core frequency within a sound which determines its musical pitch.

Gain
A function of an amplifier circuit which makes the signal louder. Among other places, you will find it at the input stage
of a mixing desk channel to control how much signal is entering the console.

Garageband
An entry level digital audio workstation, created and developed by Apple. Currently supplied free with every new Apple
Macintosh computer.

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Glossary

Gate
An audio device which helps to remove unwanted signals below a certain threshold for example, to remove the sound of
the cymbals from a snare microphone.

Gigabit Ethernet
A standard of ethernet which is capable of speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

Graphic Equaliser
A type of equaliser which divides the frequency spectrum into bands, typically by octaves or 1/3rd of an octave.

Guitar Pickup
The component of a guitar which converts the vibration of the string into electrical energy using an electromagnetic
field.

Half Normalled (Patch Bay)


When a patch bay is half normalled, the top socket and bottom socket of the row are connected together unless a cable is
inserted into the bottom socket.

Hard Disk
Also referred to as ‘hard drive’ or ‘hard disk drive’. This is the local storage in a computer system, where files are saved to
be retained after the computer has been switched off.

Hard Drive
Also referred to as ‘hard disk’ or ‘hard disk drive’. This is the local storage in a computer system, where files are saved to
be retained after the computer has been switched off.

HDD
An initialism of ‘hard disk drive’.

Headphone
A portable pair of speakers which can be worn on the head.

Headphone Volume
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

The function on a device which alters the volume specific to the headphones. This control would be independent of the
volume sent to the main monitor speakers in a studio.

Headroom
The difference between the signal level and the maximum output that a system can handle before distorting.

Hertz
The unit of frequency, cycles per second, abbreviated ‘Hz’.

High Fidelity
High quality audio.

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Glossary

High Pass Filter


A filter which allows all frequencies above a set threshold to pass, but removes everything below that frequency.

High Pass Filter


A type of equalisation which allows the engineer to remove all frequencies below a defined frequency, allowing the
higher frequencies to pass.

High Shelf
A type of equalisation which allows the engineer to boost or cut all frequencies above a set frequency.

HPF
An initialism of ‘high pass filter’.

Hz
An abbreviation of ‘hertz’.

Insert Point
The point in a signal chain where a device can be inserted. On some mixing desks there is a dedicated insert point before
or after the EQ, which enables the signal to be sent to an external device such as a compressor. The insert concept is
emulated in a DAW as a plugin slot.

Internet
The global system of connected computers which use a standard communication protocol.

Internet Explorer
An internet browser created and developed by Microsoft.

Isolation (Acoustics)
Limiting the amount of sound which can pass from one space to another. For example, sound isolation would be
recommended to prevent road noise from outside entering a recording studio so that the noise isn’t recorded.

iTunes
An application created and developed by Apple for purchasing, organising and listening to music files. It can also be

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


used for managing the content on Apple’s smart devices such as iPhones, iPods and iPads, and stream content to Apple
TVs.

iTunes Store
Apple’s online music and multimedia purchasing/rental service. Music, film and TV shows can be purchased/rented and
downloaded immediately. The user will be required to set up an Apple ID.

Jack Connector
A male connector commonly used in patch bays, line level equipment and guitar connections.

Jitter
Inaccuracies in the PCM process caused by a poor time clock in the digital system.

55
Glossary

Key Input
An input on a gate or expander. The gate or expander uses the key input as its trigger, making it possible to have the
gate react to something other than the signal that is being processed. For example, you could have a synth pad playing
through the gate with a hi-hat fed into the key input, meaning that the synth would only be heard when the hi-hat is
played.

Keyboard
An electronic version of a piano, regarded as an artificial sound source as it requires a synthesiser to make sound.

Keyboard Split
A keyboard or sampler function which enables the user to trigger different sounds on the left and right halves of the
keyboard. The split point can be changed.

Knee
A function of a compressor which determines how severely the dynamics of a signal are affected when they exceed the
threshold.

LAN
An acronym of ‘local area network’.

Latch Mode (Automation)


An automation mode which allows existing automation to be altered during playback. When alterations are complete the
final altered value is retained.

Launchpad
A part of the Apple OSX operating system which provides a shortcut to all the installed applications.

Layering
Recording additional parts over the top of existing parts, so that they sound like one part when they are mixed together.
For example, a string section playing the same melody as a piano.

LCD
An initialism of ‘liquid crystal display’, most commonly found as small screens.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Level
The absolute volume of an audio signal in electrical terms.

LFE
An initialism of ‘low frequency effects’, which refers to the subwoofer used in surround systems.

LFO
An initialism of ‘low frequency oscillator’.

Limiter
A type of compressor which reduces the dynamic range drastically, using a very high ratio above the set threshold.

56
Glossary

Line Input
Used for connecting line level devices, such as synthesisers or outboard equipment.

Line Level
The nominal reference level of an audio system, which could be -10dBv or +4dBu.

Linear Editing
The historical editing process which involved cutting tape in order to make edits. This was very limiting, and has since
been superseded by non-linear editing.

Live Room
The part of a recording studio where the performance takes place and microphones are used to record.

Lo-Fi
An abbreviation of ‘low fidelity’. Sometimes used for creative effect.

Local Area Network


A network of computer systems connected by ethernet in a contained location for example, within a studio complex
or home.

Local On/Off
A mode on a keyboard which connects or disconnects the controller element from any synthesiser element.

Logic Pro
A digital audio workstation, originally created by a company called C-Lab, and now owned and developed by Apple.

.logicx
The file suffix for a Logic Pro X session file.

Loop
A repeating pattern of MIDI data or segment of audio.

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


Lossless
A type of file format which maintains the original quality of the audio recording, for example, Wav, AIFF, FLAC.

Lossy
A type of file format which by making the file size smaller, it also has a negative impact on the quality of the audio itself.
For example, MP3, AAC.

Low Fidelity
Low quality audio. Sometimes used for creative effect.

Low Frequency Oscillator


A device used in synthesis to alter the audio signal at a relatively slow pace when compared to a signal generating
oscillator.

57
Glossary

Low Pass Filter


A type of equalisation which allows the engineer to remove all frequencies above a defined frequency, allowing the lower
frequencies to pass.

Low Shelf
A type of equalisation which allows the engineer to boost or cut all frequencies below a set frequency.

LPF
An initialism of ‘low pass filter’.

Machine Room
The part of a recording studio where any noisy equipment is stored. This will generally only be found in commercial
studios, with large mixing consoles which require noisy power supplies.

MADI
An acronym of ‘multichannel audio digital interface’. A high quality digital audio transfer protocol, which is capable of
carrying up to 64 channels of audio and at samples rates of up to 96kHz. You are unlikely to find this level of technology
in a home studio, but far more likely in a professional studio or in high end location recording.

Marker
A way of labeling time or arrangement locations in a DAW project for example, verse 1, chorus, middle 8.

Memory Stick
A term used to describe a USB flash based storage device. The term memory stick was initially used by Sony, but has
since become a term used for all such devices.

Metronome
A device which emits a regular click in time with the tempo and time signature.

Mic Level
An abbreviation of microphone level. Due to their design, microphones output only a small amount of current, which
requires the input circuitry to be very sensitive.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Microphone
A transducer, which converts acoustic sound into electrical signal.

Mid-Side
A stereo microphone technique where a figure of 8 microphone is placed at 90 degrees to a cardioid. The figure of 8
microphone is used to collect left and right, while the cardioid is focused on the subject. The figure of 8 microphone’s
signal is split, panned left and right, with one side phase inverted. As the left and right will then be canceled out when
summed to mono, this makes the technique very good for mono compatibility without requiring remixing.

MIDI
An acronym of ‘musical instrument digital interface’. The protocol used to transmit and receive musical information
between MIDI devices. This could be used for many purposes, including triggering notes on a synthesiser and adjusting
settings on an effects processor.

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Glossary

MIDI In
The MIDI input connector of a device.

MIDI Interface
A device which enables MIDI devices to be connected to a computer. Some MIDI devices now use USB to avoid the
need for a MIDI interface.

MIDI Keyboard
A piano like electronic device for triggering a MIDI synthesiser, or recording into a DAW.

MIDI Merge
A device which combines the MIDI output of two devices into one input of another.

MIDI Message
An instruction sent between MIDI devices for control purposes.

MIDI Out
The MIDI output connector of a device.

MIDI Pickup
A guitar pickup which can convert the vibration of the strings into MIDI note data, making it possible to play
synthesized sounds with a guitar.

MIDI Port
A female MIDI connector on a MIDI device which enables connection to other MIDI devices using a MIDI cable. Ports
include ‘in’, ‘out’ and ‘thru’.

MIDI Thru
A MIDI connector which enables MIDI devices to be chained together. All data that arrives at the MIDI input of the
device is replicated at the MIDI thru port for passing on to the next device.

MIDI Track
A type of channel in a DAW which is used for recording and playing back MIDI data. It creates no sound in itself and

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


requires its output to be routed to a MIDI synthesiser or software instrument on a different channel.

Mini Jack
Also known as 3.5mm jack. A kind of jack connector with a diameter of approximately 3.5mm. Most commonly used by
consumer headphones.

Minidisc
An evolution of the CD which housed the optical disc inside a plastic case making it smaller and more durable.

Mix
The version of a recording which features all the required recorded elements balanced together coherently.

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Glossary

Mix Window
An area of a DAW which enables the user to balance the levels of the recorded sounds.

Mixer
The device in a recording studio which acts as the central hub, altering the audio signal or directing it to different
locations. Also referred to as mixing desk or mixing console.

Mixing
The process of balancing the relative level of the recorded audio tracks. The ideal result being a coherent and well-
balanced sound.

Mixing Desk
The device in a recording studio which acts as the central hub, altering the audio signal or directing it to different
locations.

Modulation Wheel
A controller found on musical keyboards which enables the musician to control many elements of the sound of the
performance. Modulation is a controller in itself, but the modulation wheel can be assigned to any other controller such
as filter cutoff.

Monaural
A single channel of audio.

Monitor Display
The visual interface of a computer system.

Monitor Speaker
The main set of speakers that the sound engineer will use to listen to their mix in the studio.

Mono
An abbreviation of ‘monaural’.

Monophonic
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

A limitation of some synthesisers that can only play one note at a time.

Mouse
A common computer peripheral used to control the pointer on screen.

MP3
An abbreviation of ‘mpeg-2 audio layer 3’. A lossy compressed audio format, which has a smaller file size than a WAV
file. Their combination of small file size and acceptable audio quality have made them very popular with consumers.

MS
An initialism of ‘mid-side’.

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Glossary

Multitimbral
A multi timbral synthesiser is capable of playing more than one type of sound at a time.

Multitrack
The system of recording invented by Guitar pioneer Les Paul, where recordings can be layered over each other,
regardless of when they are recorded. For example, a guitar recorded first, then the vocal added over the top at a later
time or date.

Mute
The function which silences a device or channel.

My Computer
The area of the Microsoft Windows operating system which enables users to organise files and folders.

Natural Sound Source


A source of sound which is created through natural means for example, the vibration of a string or drum skin.

Near Coincident Pair


A type of XY stereo microphone technique where the capsules are within 30cm of each other but not immediately next
to each other.

Neumann U87
A very high quality large diaphragm condenser microphone with a switchable polar pattern, it is considered to be an
industry standard in commercial studios, used for vocals, acoustic guitars, pianos and other acoustic instruments.

Noise
Unwanted sound, such as hiss, hum or buzz.

Non-Destructive Editing
The type of editing employed by modern DAW software, where the original file is not affected by changes made to it in
the software.

Non-Linear Editing

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


A non destructive form of editing, as used in modern DAW software.

Normalled (Patch Bay)


When a patch bay is normalled, the top socket and bottom socket of the row are connected together unless a cable is
inserted into either the top or bottom socket.

Note On
A MIDI message which triggers a note to sound.

Nyquist Frequency
The highest frequency that a digital audio system can capture accurately.

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Glossary

Octave
12 semitones. One octave up is double the frequency of the starting pitch.

Offline
Any computer action which takes place through local processing.

Operating System
The software installed on a computer which controls its most basic functions, such as how it communicates with
peripherals and interacts with other installed software applications. The operating system is the graphic user interface
that the user interacts with.

Oscillator
An electronic device which generates a constant waveform. Used to generate sound waves in synthesis.

OSX
An operating system created and developed by Apple which comes preinstalled on all new Apple Macintosh computers.

Outboard Device
Any piece of equipment which is not part of the mixing desk or computer system.

Pan
An abbreviation of ‘panorama’. Commonly referring to the pan pot, a control on a mixing desk or DAW channel which
moves the signal from left to right in the stereo image.

Parallel
A set of sockets on a patch bay, which enable the engineer to duplicate the signal. Also referred to as a ‘mult’.

Parameters
Programmable elements of device or system.

Parametric EQ
An accurate form of equalisation, where the gain, frequency and Q factor can all be changed.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Paste
A computer software function, common to most software which inserts the contents of the clipboard at a chosen
location.

Patch
Settings that have been saved for future recall in hardware devices such as synthesisers or effects units.

Patch Cable
A short cable which is used to make connections on a patch bay. Some guitarists also use patch cables to connect their
pedals together due to their conveniently short length.

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Glossary

Patch Bay
A series of rackmount sockets, which represent every connection in the studio. This makes it possible to connect two
devices together without running cables across the room and overcoming inaccessible rear connections.

PCM
An initialism of ‘pulse code modulation’.

Period
One cycle of an oscillation, for example, a sound wave.

Peripheral
An external device that can be connected to a computer system to enhance its capabilities, e.g. audio interface, MIDI
interface, keyboard, monitor, mouse.

Personnel
The people involved in a project or task.

PFL
An initialism of ‘pre fade listen’. This enables signal to be sent from a channel independently of the fader level. A
common use is for headphone mixes.

Phantom Power
The 48v power supply required by condenser microphones.

Phasing
A delay based modulation effect.

Phono Connector
Also known as RCA connector.

Piano
A stringed instrument which uses keys to trigger hammers that strike the strings.

Piano Roll Editor Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


A DAW editor window which enables the manipulation of MIDI note data, which is arranged in a matrix with the piano
keys from top to bottom and time from left to right.

Pitch
A fixed note, determined by its fundamental frequency.

Pitch Bend
A MIDI controller found on most keyboards, which enables the musician to change the pitch of the sound during the
performance, bending the note.

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Glossary

Pitch Correction
The process of correcting the pitching of a performance. DAWs offer this basic functionality, however bespoke plugin
solutions are offered such as Melodyne and Autotune.

Plugin
An optional piece of software, which operates within a DAW. Many plugins are supplied with a DAW, however, further
plugins can be purchased from 3rd party manufacturers. There are several formats of plugin, including Audiounit, AAX,
VST and RTAS.

Polyphonic
An ability to reproduce multiple notes at once, unlike monophonic.

Post-fader
Anything that occurs after the fader in channel signal flow.

Pot
An abbreviation of ‘potentiometer’.

Potentiometer
A variable resistor, which exists on mixing consoles in the form of knobs such as gain, EQ and pan.

Pre-fader
Anything which occurs before the fader in chanel signal flow.

Preamp
An amplifier which brings the input signal up to an acceptable operating level, for example the gain stage of a mixing
desk is a microphone preamplifier.

Preset
The memory settings which come pre-installed on a device such as a synthesiser, effects unit, software instrument or
plugin.

Pro Tools
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

A digital audio workstation originally created by a company called Digidesign, but now owned and developed by Avid.

Producer
The person who leads a music recording project, quite often making creative decisions and managing budgets where
applicable. It is the producer’s responsibility to ensure a project runs to time.

Profit
Income minus expenditure.

Programme Change Message


A MIDI message which instructs a device to switch between stored programmes.

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Glossary

Promoter
The person or company who is responsible for ensuring live performances are advertised to the public and other
organisations such as the press.

Proximity Effect
A side effect of directional microphones, which results in greater low mid and bass frequencies when the source is close
to the microphone.

.ptx
The file suffix of a Pro Tools session file.

Pulse Code Modulation


The method by which analogue to digital conversion takes place, where measurements of the amplitude of a waveform
(bit depth) are measured at regular intervals (sample rate).

Punch In/Out
The function of a recording device to enable and disable recording during playback, enabling small sections to be
recorded over.

Q
An abbreviation of ‘quality’. A function of parametric EQ which adjusts the accuracy of the frequency band which is
being affected, a high Q is more accurate, a low Q affects a wider frequency band.

Quadraphonic Sound
Also referred to as 4.0 surround. An early surround sound format which uses four speakers located in the corners of the
room.

Quantisation
An automatic MIDI editing process which shifts the start of notes onto the selected beat, e.g. the closest 1/4 note, 8th note.

RAM
An acronym of ‘random access memory’, short term storage in a computer system which is cleared on restart.

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


Ratio
The control on a compressor or expander with controls how much compression or expansion is applied.

RCA Connector
Also referred to as a phono connector. An unbalanced connection, most commonly used in consumer hi-fi equipment.

Read Mode (Automation)


An automation mode which purely reads the existing automation data, without allowing any changes to be recorded.

Real Time
Processing that is applied in the same amount of time as it takes to play back the affected audio.

65
Glossary

Record Decks
A playback device for the vinyl format. Used by DJs, normally in pairs with a DJ mixer to crossfade between playback
from each.

Record Label
A company which coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of
copyright for sound recordings and music videos.

Recording
The process of capturing real-world audio and storing it on a physical medium.

Recording Studio
A room or complex of rooms which is used to record sound.

Release (Dynamic Processing)


The time it takes for the dynamic processor to recover to normal.

Release (Synthesis)
Release is the time it takes to for the signal to fade from the sustain level to its final level.

Return
An input of a mixing desk which is used specifically for receiving signal that has already been sent out of the console for
some processing, e.g. an insert return or effects return.

Reverb
An abbreviation of ‘reverberation’.

Reverberation
The sound that bounces around the surfaces in a room, which is emulated using an outboard effect or plugin to give the
impression that the sound is in a real room.

RF
An initialism of ‘radio frequency’.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

RMS
An initialism of ‘root mean square’. A means of calculating the loudness of audio.

ROM
An acronym of ‘read only memory’. An area of computer storage which can only be read from, and can not be
overwritten.

Routing
A function, commonly found on mixing desks, which enables the user to set the signal path. For example, you could
route a microphone signal to the input of the DAW.

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Glossary

Sample Editor
An area of a DAW which enables the user to edit an audio clip in detail.

Sample Rate
The rate at which measurements are taken, measured in kHz.

Sampler
A hardware or software device which can record and manipulate short audio clips, and trigger them using MIDI note
messages. Samplers are also emulated in software instrument plugins.

Sampling
The process of converting acoustic audio into digital audio by measuring the waveform amplitude at set time intervals.

Save
To retain any work in progress. In a DAW this would be the generation of a ‘session’ file.

Score Editor
A DAW editor window which enables the user to input or edit musical notation.

Semi-Parametric EQ
A simplified version of a parametric EQ where there is no Q control, just gain and frequency.

Send
A connection on a mixing desk which is used as an output, to send signal to an external location for further processing,
e.g. insert send of effects send.

Sennheiser MD421
A high quality dynamic microphone often used for recording guitar amplifiers and toms.

Sequencer
A legacy name for a digital audio workstation referring to the sequencing of audio or MIDI regions in the arrange page.

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


Session File
A DAW saved file which will often also require additional assets such as audio files.

Shelving
A kind of equaliser which affects all frequencies above (hi-shelf) or below (lo-shelf) a specified frequency.

Shortcut Function
Software applications use combinations of key presses on a computer keyboard to trigger certain actions. Some are
standardised, for example Command-S on a Macintosh is the shortcut to save in all applications, the equivalent being
Control-S on a Windows PC.

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Glossary

Shure SM57
A rugged dynamic microphone similar to the SM58 but without the mesh protection. Commonly used for recording
guitar amps and close miking drum kits.

Shure SM58
A rugged dynamic microphone most commonly used for vocals in live performances.

Sidechain
An insert loop on a compressor which can be used to send the signal for processing. The signal received at the sidechain
return is used as the trigger for the compressor. This makes it possible to make the compressor react in a different way,
perhaps to certain frequencies more than others, as in the case of de-essing.

Signal to Noise Ratio


The ratio between the wanted sound and the noise floor. In a system, this will refer to the ratio between the nominal
level and the noise floor.

Sine Wave
A basic waveform, with constant amplitude and consistent frequency.

Slapback
A single short delay echo without any repeats.

SNR
An initialism of ‘signal to noise ratio’.

Soft Synth
An abbreviation of ‘software synthesiser’. A software version of a synthesiser, a software instrument plugin.

Software Instrument
An optional piece of software, which operates within a DAW as a synthesiser of various kinds of instrument. Many
software instruments are supplied with a DAW, however, further instruments can be purchased from 3rd party
manufacturers.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Software Instrument Track


A type of channel in a DAW which is a hybrid between audio and MIDI. It has an audio output, with responds to MIDI
input, by triggering a software instrument added to one of the plugin slots.

Solid State Drive


An evolution of the hard disk drive, which uses solid state technology to save the files rather than using physical
magnetic disk plates. This makes the drive less prone to damage and enables faster data transfer rates.

Solo
A function of a mixing desk and DAW which enables the sound engineer to listen to channels in isolation.

Song
A piece of music, composed and arranged.

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Glossary

Sound Engineer
The person who is primarily in control of the equipment, and aims to achieve the best quality of sound possible. They
would work under direction from the producer.

Spaced Omni
Another name for the AB microphone technique.

SPDIF
An acronym of ‘Sony Philips digital interface’. This is a audio data transfer protocol used over short distances to make
a single stereo connection between two devices. In most cases it will use an RCA connector, however, it can also use an
optical TOSLINK connection.

Speaker
The device which converts electrical energy into acoustic energy. i.e. the opposite of a microphone.

Speakon
A cable connector created by Neutrik, used most commonly for connecting amplifiers and speakers in PA systems.

Spill
Unwanted sound that enters a microphone, for example, spill from the headphones on a vocalist, or spill from the
cymbals on a snare microphone.

Spotify
An online music streaming service, which has a free subscription with advertising, or for a monthly subscription the
user can bypass advertising and obtain additional functionality.

SSD
An initialism of ‘solid state drive’.

Standard MIDI File


A standard format for saving MIDI data for sharing between devices. There are two kinds, type 1 (multiple tracks of
MIDI) and type 0 (a single track of MIDI).

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


Standing Wave
When two waves of equal frequency are moving in opposite directions, for example as a result of a sound bouncing
from a wall in a studio. Standing waves can cause problems due to constructive interference, which may result in some
frequencies being louder than others.

Status Byte
An initial message sent to a MIDI device which identifies its purpose.

Step Sequencing
Recording MIDI into a sequencer or DAW one note at a time, without needing to keep up with the tempo.

Stereo
A realistic sounding format for audio, which uses two channels to emulate the feeling of space around a sound.

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Glossary

Stringed Instrument
An instrument which generates its sound from the resonation of a pitched string.

Strings
A collective term used for stringed instruments, most commonly referring to bowed instruments such as violin, viola,
cello and contrabass.

Studio Assistant
The person in the studio who assists the sound engineer, for example, setting up microphones or operating the patch
bay.

Studio One
A digital audio workstation created and developed by Presonus.

Studio Runner
The person in the studio whose role it is to ensure that everyone has what they need during a recording session. They
might be tasked with fetching equipment or making tea.

Subtractive Synthesis
A method of synthesis in which the harmonics of an audio signal are attenuated by a filter to alter tone of the sound.

Subwoofer
A speaker which is designed to produce very low frequencies, often referred to as the ‘.1’ in surround formats, i.e. 5.1
and 7.1.

Surround Sound
An audio format which uses more than two speakers, arranged around the listener to provide a more realistic
environment.

Sustain
In synthesis, sustain is the time during which the signal remains at its normal level.

Sustain Pedal
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

A MIDI controller used to emulate the sustain pedal of a piano. When the sustain pedal is held, any notes that are played
will continue to sound beyond the release of the key/note off message.

Sweep EQ
Another name for the mid band of a semi parametric EQ.

Synth
An abbreviation of ‘synthesiser’.

Synthesiser
An electronic device which generates sound. This may be original sound, designed for its own tone and timbre, or it may
be to emulate acoustic instruments such as piano and drums.

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Glossary

System Preferences
The part of an operating system that enables the user to optimise the computer for the required purpose, such as audio
recording.

Tape / Magnetic Tape


A linear magnetic medium, used to record sound and music. It is now rarely used due to its inconvenience and expense,
but many engineers still maintain that it sounds better than the digital equivalents.

TDIF
An abbreviation of ‘Tascam digital audio interface’, named after its founding company. Initially a standard for connecting
Tascam digital tape machines, it has also been adopted by other manufacturers to connect digital mixing desks and other
multichannel devices. The technology has since been superseded by MADI and ethernet based standards.

Template
Predefined settings which enable the user to get started more quickly.

Threshold
The control on a compressor, expander or gate which defines the sound level at which the device will react.

Thunderbolt
A peripheral connection which is capable of very high data transfer rates. There are three versions available, with
Thunderbolt 3 being capable of 40Gbps.

Timbre
The tonal colour of a sound.

Time Machine
A component of the OSX operating system which enables automatic backup of data stored on that computer or any
connected hard drives. Individual files can easily be retrieved if needed.

TOSLINK
An acronym of ‘Toshiba link’, named after its founding company. It uses the same connector as ADAT lightpipe to
connect two digital audio devices, using the SPDIF protocol to transfer the data. This is most common on consumer
hi-fi equipment, for example, connecting a CD player to an amplifier.
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
Touch Mode (Automation)
An automation mode which allows existing automation to be altered during playback. When alterations are complete the
automation will jump back to pre-recorded value.

Track
An individual element of recording or recorded material, such as a vocal or guitar. When working with more than one
track, it is referred to as ‘multi tracking’. A track is different to a channel.

Track Pad
An alternative to a mouse, which is useful in small spaces. Commonly found on laptop computers, but also available as a
peripheral.

71
Glossary

Trackball
An alternative to a mouse, which uses a ball on the top for control of the pointer. Sometimes preferred by sound
engineers due to it remaining static on the work surface.

Transducer
A device which converts one kind of energy into another, for example, acoustic energy into electrical energy in the case
of a microphone.

Transport
The controls of a DAW which enable the user to play, stop, pause, fast forward, rewind and record.

Tremolo
A rapid variation of pitch of a note, for example, the effect of a tremolo arm on a guitar. Also emulated by effects plugins
in a DAW.

Trim
Another name for the gain stage of a mixing desk, except that trim can also be used to reduce the level of the input.

Trombone
A brass instrument which uses a telescopic slide to alter the note. Commonly used in classical music among many other
genres.

TRS
Initialisation of ‘tip, ring, sleeve’. A kind of jack connector used by headphones and balanced audio systems.

Trumpet
A brass instrument with three valves, the highest register in the family of instruments. Commonly used in jazz and
classical music, among many other genres.

TS
Initialisation of ‘tip, sleeve’. A kind of jack connector used by unbalanced audio systems.

Turnover
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

The amount of money that is earned by a company or project, normally measured annually.

Tweeter
A speaker which is designed to produce higher frequencies.

Unbalanced
An audio connection which uses one signal carrier, plus the screen/earth. Most commonly found on consumer
equipment, prone to external interference.

Unity Gain
When the output of an audio circuit is at the exact same level as the input level, i.e. when a fader is at zero on a
mixing desk.

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Glossary

USB
An initialism of ‘universal serial bus’. A standard peripheral connection used on both PCs and Macs. Three versions are
available, with varying speeds. USB3 is the fastest at the time of going to print, with a data transfer rate of 480 megabits
per second.

VCF
An initialism of ‘voltage controlled filter’.

VCO
An initialism of ‘low frequency oscillator’.

Vinyl Record
A flat circular piece of vinyl with grooves cut into it. A record player needle sits in the groove as it rotates, the vibrations
in the needles are amplified to playback the recorded sound, making it an analogue medium.

Viola
A wooden stringed-instrument with four tuned strings. Commonly used in classical music as well as many other genres.
It is slightly larger than a violin, giving it a deeper sound.

Violin
A wooden stringed-instrument with four tuned strings. Commonly used in classical music as well as many other genres.

Voice
A natural sound source, created from air (breath) passing over the vocal cords in the throat.

Voltage Controlled Filter


A synthesis module which allows control of a filter’s frequency. The filter could be high-pass, low-pass or bandpass.

Voltage Controlled Oscillator


An oscillator (sound generator) whose pitch can be controlled via voltage variation.

WAN
An acronym of ‘wide area network’.

Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


.wav
A file suffix used for Wav files.

Wav
An abbreviation of ‘waveform’. Wav files are the industry standard digital audio file format. They are considered high
quality as they are a lossless format.

Waveform
The visual representation of an audio wave, as seen in the DAW arrange page or sample editor.

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Glossary

Wet
With effects or processing applied.

Wi-Fi
Also known a WLAN.

Wide Area Network


A network of computer systems which extends beyond the confines of the LAN location, connecting to other networks
anywhere in the world.

Windows
An operating system created and developed by Microsoft. There are numerous versions, including Windows XP,
Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10.

WLAN
An acronym of ‘wireless local area network’. A wireless connection to a local network.

Woofer
A speaker which is designed to produce lower frequencies.

World Wide Web


The content that is stored and accessed via the internet.

Write Mode (Automation)


An automation mode which records new automation data during playback.

XLR Connector
A balanced connection, used in most professional level equipment. The standard connection for microphones. Also
referred to as a cannon connector.

XY
A stereo microphone technique where two cardioid microphones are placed at an angle of 90–135 degrees of each other,
with the capsules as close as possible (coincident) or within 30cm of each other (near coincident).
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

Youtube
An online video streaming service provided by Google.

74
Useful Information (Non-assessed)

Whatever your role in music, it’s good to have an understanding of where you best fit in. You may also be in a position where
you need to find other people to help you with your project, and have to decide who you give the opportunity to.

Generally speaking, you can place people’s abilities into two categories:
■■ Technical skills
■■ Soft skills

Technical skills are the things that people learn and develop, such as how to use a DAW or mixing console.

Soft skills are the personal characteristics which enable people to work with others such as communication. leadership, or
the ability to remain calm under pressure.

Here are some examples of what skills would be useful to a variety of music production related roles:

Role Technical Skills Soft Skills

Producer Operate a DAW Active listening


Plan time & resources Communication
Financial management Leadership
Organised
Creative

Sound Engineer Operate a mixing desk Organised


Operate a DAW Calm under pressure
Operate outboard equipment Systematic
Critical listening Polite
Recording Communication
Reliable

Assistant Engineer Operate a mixing desk Organised


Operate a DAW Calm under pressure
Operate patch bay Proactive
Set up microphones Reliable
Backup session files

Programmer Operate a DAW Organised


Advanced audio editing Calm under pressure
Synthesis Systematic

Remixer Operate a DAW Creative Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition


Audio manipulation Self initiator
Synthesis
Plan time and resources
Experimentation

Musician Instrumental skills Creative


Basic instrument maintenance Reliable
Read/write musical score
Improvise

Songwriter Instrumental skills Creative


Read/write musical score Articulate
Experimentation Communication
Leader
75
Useful Information (Non-assessed)

Time Management
The ability to work under pressure is extremely important in the creative industries. You need to know when to be creative
and when to focus on getting the job done.

Sometimes you will be working to very long deadlines, with lots of time to fit in the work that you need to do. But more
often than not, you will find that you are given a deadline which is particularly short.

These two situations present different issues to overcome.

When you are working to a long deadline, it’s important that you plan your time effectively and give yourself short term
targets. For example, you might have six months to complete a five track EP, in which case you might decide to complete one
track per month, leaving yourself a month spare at the end for final tweaks and mastering.

When working to a very tight deadline, it may be that you can’t achieve the job on your own and need to call in some support.
You would then need to put your management head on to organise people and schedule their time as well as your own.

Consider the following:

Planning
Effective use of time is all about planning. By planning ahead you can ensure that every minute you have available is
being used. There are numerous methods for planning time; in a digital age it’s worth considering an online calendar
based system.

This will enable you to not only plan the time for each task, but also share it with others involved in the project who will
be able to see any changes in real time.

For the sake of sanity, you should also plan in breaks for everyone so that they can relax and come back to the project
refreshed, enthusiastic and ready to be creative.

Efficiency
This is a term used to describe a working method where the maximum is achieved with the available time and resources.

Are you working in the most efficient way possible? Is any time being wasted? Are people’s skills being used to
their maximum?

Time can easily be wasted by a lack of preparation, refer back to planning above.

Staffing
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

If you are unable to complete a project by the deadline on your own, then you will need to hire some help.

Everyone has different skills and are capable of working at different speeds on different tasks, therefore it’s important to
allocate people the right work if you are to be efficient.

For example, someone who is a very competent sound engineer will work quickly on a mixing desk but if you ask them
to arrange a string section they will work a lot slower. If you need a string section arranging, use someone who is an
experienced arranger. They will work a lot quicker and probably achieve a more professional result.

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Useful Information (Non-assessed)

Copyright
Please note: The scope of copyright will vary depending on your country of residence, so it’s best to investigate how the law
applies in your territory. The details here are specific to the United Kingdom at the time of writing.

Copyright is defined as “the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print,
publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material” (Oxford English Dictionary)

Essentially, copyright is there to protect you from having your work stolen by others.

In simple terms there are two types of copyright which apply to recorded music:
■■ The musical work
■■ The sound recording

The musical work should be copyrighted to protect the song itself. This means that anyone wishing to perform or record
your song should have your consent to do so.

If the songwriter has signed a contract with a publisher, then the publisher will be responsible for controlling the copyright
of the musical work.

The sound recording should be copyrighted to protect the specific recording of the music for example, the recorded version
of the song that the artist has released for sale. It is illegal to copy this recording without consent from the sound recording
copyright owner.

The sound recording rights are normally held by the record label, or whosoever has financed the project.

It is not uncommon for copyright to be disputed. For example, in 2016 a band called Spirit accused Robert Plant and Jimmy
Page (Led Zeppelin) of stealing the riff from ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Even though this is one of the most well known riffs in the
world, it was still subject to a court hearing to determine who truly owned the rights to that riff. In this case, the jury found
in favour of Led Zeppelin but that outcome was by no means guaranteed.

It is therefore important to retain evidence of your work. Keep the early notes or DAW sessions, so that if someone ever
accuses you of stealing their work, you can immediately show evidence that you were there when the work was first created.

Sample Clearance
As much as copyright is there to protect your work, it is also there to protect the work of others from you. With modern
technology it’s very easy to take a recorded section of music and integrate it into your work. This is called sampling.

It is not illegal to use a sample from another recording, but it is illegal to do so without express written consent. If it is
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition
recognisable as being taken from the original, you should expect someone to knock on your door asking for their money if
your track becomes a success.

Most sample libraries will have something in their terms and conditions which allows the user to license the use of their
samples but this is very unlikely to be the case with a commercially released piece of music.

If you wish to use a sample, you must clear its use with the copyright owner(s). In most cases this will be a case of contacting
the record label or publishing company in question to agree a fee.

However, it’s not always straightforward to find out who the copyright owner is, particularly with older or more
obscure songs and recordings. It may be more practical therefore to use a copyright clearance service such as
www.sampleclearance.com, who will find the owners and help in negotiating an appropriate fee.

If you are commissioned to do a remix of a piece of music, you should ensure that your contract details who is responsible
for paying the owner of any copyrights. It may be that this money is paid by the record label, or it may be that they are
expecting you to pay these costs from the money you earn. If in doubt, always seek legal advice.
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Image Copyright Information

Images listed by page, left to right, top to bottom.

p.10
© Universal Audio

p.15
© Samson Technologies

p.16
© Arigato/Shutterstock

p.18
© Supakorn Sakdiyapan / Shutterstock

p.18
© Fedorov Oleksiy / Shutterstock

Additional vector technical illustrations by Simon Troup


© 2016 Rockschool/RSL
Music Production Grade 7 | Coursework Edition

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