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M: Abbreviation for Mega or million.
mA: milliamp or one thousandth of an amp. See Amp.
Machine Head: - The part of a guitar, usually situated at the top of the neck, which contains the tuning mechanisms for each string.
Mapping: In sequencing it is the process of identifying patches and keys so that sound files can be played properly. A key map will translate values for MIDI messages so that the correct keys will be played whereas a patch map functions to identify the correct patches or sounds. A typical use would be when a non-General Midi (GM) synth needs to be mapped for a GM file.
Marker: In sequencing and audio software, a marker is used to record a position for easy editing navigation.
Mass merchandiser: A very large retail chain that sells a variety of goods, including recorded music. Such stores include Wal-Mart and K-Mart.
Master: - A device which controls another device, known as the slave. The final mix of a piece of music.
Mb: Megabyte. 1,000,000 (one million) bytes of data.
MDM: Modular Digital Multitrack; a digital recorder that can be used in multiples to provide a greater number of synchronized tracks than a single machine.
MEG: Abbreviation for 1,000,000.
MEMORY: Computer's RAM memory used to store programs and data. This data is lost when the computer is switched off and so must be stored to disk or other suitable media. Used for storing important internal data, such as patch information, setup configurations, and digital waveform data.
MENU:List of choices presented by a computer program or a device with a display window.
Merge: To combine or unite. To Merge means to combine sequences, sounds, tracks, MIDI data, etc.
Meta Events: The prefix “Meta” often means above or beyond and in computing, a Meta character conveys information about other characters. In MIDI, a Meta event is illustrated by such things as track name, patch name, tempo, time signature, etc. Meta events are contrasted with data streams.
METRONOME - a device or software function that produces a discrete pulse. Used to synchronize music with a specific tempo.
MIC LEVEL: The low level signal generated by a microphone. This must be amplified many times to increase it to line level.
Microprocessor / CPU (Central Processing Unit): - Complex Integrated Circuit which is capable of performing some kind of computation / routine. The three most important parts of a microprocessor are a) it's Instruction Set (the instructions that the processor can execute). b) It's Bandwidth (the number of bits it can process in a single instruction eg 8, 16, 32, 64 bit etc), and c) It's Clock Speed, which is the amount of instructions that the processor can execute within one second. Hence, a 3GHz, 32 bit microprocessor can execute 3 billion cycles of 32 bits per second. (Gordon) Moore's Law (also Intel) says roughly that an IC / microprocessor manufacturer will be able to place twice as many transistors into the same area of a microprocessor every eighteen months, with a coresponding increase in speed. Hence, if a companies fastest microprocessor clockspeed is say, 3.5 GHz, in eighteen months time it will be probably be around 7 GHz.
Microtonality The exploitation of intervals which lie between the semitone steps of the equal tempered scale. This allows the use of tunings and modes which are more typical of non-western music. This important and underestimated facility is at last becoming available on synthesisers.
MIDI - Musical Instrument Digital Interface provides a standardized method for MIDI devices such as synthesizers, samplers, sound cards, etc. to communicate musical events and data to each other. See the MIDI Guide for a detailed explanation.
MIDI + Audio Sequencer: - software running on modern microcomputers that takes advantage of modern processing power/storage capacity to run sequences of digitally recorded audio alongside the M.I.D.I. messages mentioned above.
MIDI An agreed standard for communication between electronic musical equipment such as synthesisers, samplers and other devices such as computers. The core function of the standard is to allow information describing musical peformance (which notes were played, how loud they should be, plus articulations such as "bending" of notes or vibrato etc.) to be capable of transmission from one machine to another. The recording of such information for later replay is called sequencing. The standard also includes many functions which are ancillary to this core activity, for example the standardisation of files for sequences (Standard Midi File) and digital audio recordings (Sample Dump Standard) and methods of exchanging information that is unique to individual devices (System Exclusive).
MIDI ANALYSER: Device that gives a visual readout of MIDI activity when connected between two pieces of MIDI equipment.
MIDI BANK CHANGE: A type of controller message used to select alternate banks of MIDI Programs where access to more than 128 programs is required.
MIDI Cable: A special wire used to carry MIDI data; it has three shielded conductors connected to five-pin DIN plugs at both ends. It is not a MIDI interface by itself but most interfaces such as the Edirol UM-1S, the UM-550 and the UM-880 need MIDI cables to complete the communication between the computer and MIDI hardware.
MIDI CLOCK - a system real time message that enables the synchronization of different MIDI devices. The standard rate is 24 divisions per beat. Allows instruments interconnected via MIDI to be synchronized. The MIDI Clock runs at a rate of 24 pulses-per-quarter- note.
MIDI Continuous Controller: Allows continuously changing information such as pitch wheel or breath controller information to be passed over the MIDI line. Continuous controllers use large amounts of memory when recorded into a MIDI sequencer. Some standard MIDI Continuous Controller numbers are listed below. PWH = Pitch Wheel, CHP = Pressure, 1 = Modulation Wheel , 2 = Breath Controller, 3 = (Pressure on Rev. 1 DX7), 4 = Foot Pedal, 5 = Portamento Time, 6 = Data Entry, 7 = Volume, 8 = Balance , 10 = Pan, 11 = Expression Controller, 16-19 = General purpose controllers 1-4 (High Res.), 64 = Sustain Switch (on/off), 65 = Portamento Switch (on/off), 66 = Sustenuto (chord hold), 67 = Soft Pedal (on/off), 69 = Hold Pedal 2 (on/off), 80-83 = General purpose controllers 5-8 (Low Res.), 91 = External Effects Depth, 92 = Tremolo Depth, 93 = Chorus Depth, 94 = Detune, 95 = Phaser Depth , 96 = Data Increment , 97 = Data Decrement
MIDI CONTROL CHANGE: Also knows as MIDI Controllers or Controller Data, these messages convey positional information relating to performance controls such as wheels, pedals, switches and other devices. This information can be used to control functions such as vibrato depth, brightness, portamento, effects levels, and many other parameters. A term used to describe the physical interface by means of which the musician plays the MIDI synthesizer or other sound generator. Examples of controllers are keyboards, drum pads, wind synths and so on. This is a hardware device that outputs MIDI data such as Edirol’s PCR-30 or PCR-50 keyboards. Other forms of controllers include drum, guitar, or wind controller. Real-time controllers are either continuous controllers (wheels, joysticks, sliders, foot pedals, breath controllers) or switch controllers (footswitches or other on-off devices). Many MIDI controllers do not have sounds but are used specifically to send MIDI data to another device such as a computer or a sound module.
MIDI echo: The selectable MIDI echo function is used to provide an exact copy of any information recieved at the MIDI in port, and route this data directly to the MIDI out/echo port.
MIDI Filter: Many sequencing and digital audio recording programs utilize filters to assist the user with the editing of their data. A filter is especially useful if you are replacing MIDI data such as changing a violin to a viola.
MIDI IMPLEMENTATION CHART: A chart, usually found in MIDI product manuals, which provides information as to which MIDI features are supported. Supported features are marked with a 0 while unsupported feature are marked with a X. Additional information may be provided, such as the exact form of the Bank Change message. This comprehensive document resides within most synthesizer manuals and describes what MIDI messages, such as note number, velocity, aftertouch, bender, control change, program change, and system exclusive messages are transmitted or recognized by the synthesizer.
MIDI IN: The socket used to receive information from a master controller or from the MIDI Thru socket of a slave unit. This port receives MIDI messages from an external source and communicates this performance, control, and timing data to the device's internal microprocessors.
MIDI Interface - a hardware interface that is either inserted into one of the computer's internal expansion slots or plugged into a computer (serial/parallel) port. It allows the computer to communicate with other MIDI instruments by adding one or more MIDI input and output ports. A device used to translate the serial message data of MIDI into a data structure that can be directly communicated both to and from a personal computer's internal operating system.
MIDI mapper: A dedicated digital device, onboard processor, or computer algorithm that can be used to reassign the scaler value of a data byte to another assigned value.
MIDI MERGE - used to combine MIDI data from various sources into a single source. A device or sequencer function that enables two or more streams of MIDI data to be combined.
MIDI Messages: The net effect of MIDI is sound: melodies, harmonies, rhythms, but the MIDI message or MIDI event itself is not a sound but a command. MIDI messages transmitted are digital commands and capable of sending about 1,000 events per second. These are made up of a group of related 8-bit words, which are used to convey a series of performance or control instructions to one or all MIDI devices within a system.
MIDI MODE: MIDI information can be interpreted by the receiving MIDI instrument in a number of ways, the most common being polyphonically on a single MIDI channel (Poly-Omni Off mode). Omni mode enables a MIDI Instrument to play all incoming data regardless of channel.
MIDI MODULE: Sound generating device with no integral keyboard.
MIDI NOTE NUMBER: Every key on a MIDI keyboard has its own note number ranging from 0 to 127, where 60 represents middle C. Some systems use C3 as middle C while others use C4.
MIDI NOTE OFF: Message sent when key is released.
MIDI NOTE ON: MIDI message sent when note is played (key pressed).
MIDI OUT: The MIDI connector used to send data from a master device to the MIDI In of a connected slave device. This port is used to transmit MIDI messages from a single source device to the microprocessor of another MIDI instrument or device.
MIDI PATCHER - a device that allows the routing of one or more MIDI signals to various MIDI devices. Typically reconfigurable to allow for different routings of the data.
MIDI PORT: The MIDI connections of a MIDI compatible device. A Multiport, in the context of a MIDI Interface, is a device with multiple MIDI output sockets, each capable of carrying data relating to a different set of 16 MIDI channels. Multiports are the only means of exceeding the limitations imposed by 16 MIDI channels. The three connectors that pass MIDI data into (MIDI IN), out of (MIDI OUT) and through (MIDI THRU) a MIDI device. Physical connector through which MIDI data enters or leaves, depending upon which kind of port it is as there are three kinds of MIDI ports: In, Out, and Thru. MIDI data enters an instrument at its MIDI In port (often called a MIDI Input) and leaves the instrument from its MIDI Out port (often called a MIDI Output). The MIDI Thru is a more unique port that sends a copy of the data currently being received at the MIDI In port.
MIDI PROGRAM CHANGE: Type of MIDI message used to change sound patches on a remote module or the effects patch on a MIDI effects unit.
MIDI Sequencer: - a piece of digital hardware/software that can instruct a compatible instrument to switch notes on/off at whatever velocity they were "recorded" at. Rather than recording sound or "audio" however it records the parameters of the note. The sounds triggered are dependent on the MIDI instrument or sampler supplying the sound. There are up to 16 channels per MIDI loop operating within increments of 0 - 127. M.I.D.I. instructions (e.g. turn note off, velocity etc), are known as "events".
MIDI SPLITTER: Alternative term for MIDI Thru box.
MIDI SYNC: A description of the synchronisation systems available to MIDI users - MIDI Clock and MIDI Time Code.
MIDI THRU BOX: Device which splits the MIDI Out signal of a master instrument or sequencer to avoid daisy chaining. Powered circuitry is used to 'buffer' the outputs so as to prevent problems when many pieces of equipment are driven from a single MIDI output.
MIDI Thru: One of a synthesizer’s three ports (connections): MIDI In, MIDI Out, and MIDI Thru. MIDI In receives information from other equipment; MIDI Out sends information to other equipment. MIDI Thru duplicates the information and sends it to other equipment so a synthesizer can echo messages to other synthesizers. This is particularly useful when daisy chaining MIDI equipment. The socket on a slave unit used to feed the MIDI In socket of the next unit in line. This port provides an exact copy of the incoming data at the MIDI in port and and transmits this data to another MIDI instrument or device that follows within the MIDI data chain.
MIDI TIME CODE (MTC) - a timing system used as a universal reference for all the devices in a MIDI network. Represents the information contained in a SMPTE signal using MIDI messages. A MIDI system real-time message that assigns a unique address to each moment in time (usually each 120th of a second). Similar to SMPTE time code but transmitted via MIDI ports, it is used mainly for the playback synchronization of MIDI files and digital audio.
MIDI - Musical Instrument Digital Interface "protocol" launched 1982 which allowed electronic instruments to "talk" with each other digitally through three standardised ports which utilised the existing "DIN" standard connector: A network of musical instruments / effects etc may be created provided each instrument is compatible with this protocol. The ports are...1) MIDI IN - Receives MIDI information from another device.2) MIDI OUT - Transmits MIDI information to another device. 3) MIDI THRU - Allows data to pass through unaltered, which enables many instruments to be connected in series. Musical Instrument Digital Interface "protocol" launched 1982 which allowed electronic instruments to "talk" with each other digitally through three standardised ports which utilised the existing "DIN" standard connector: A network of musical instruments / effects etc may be created provided each instrument is compatible with this protocol. Standard format for computer-based music composition. It translates musical performance into numerical data, which can be played back on MIDI-compatible sound modules. MIDI data can control many parameters of performance, such as pitch bend, left-right pan or volume. QuickTime 2.0 and later supports General MIDI data in QuickTime movies.
Milli- : An prefix meaning 1/1000.
MiniDisc: A compact data storage medium designed to store music. MiniDiscs come in two varieties: playback only and recordable. Introduced by Sony in late 1992 and features random access similar to CDs.
Mixer - a hardware or software device that combines multiple audio signals into one destination signal. Mixers usually provide control over the volume and/or stereo balance of each source signal. a recording device that allows several different audio sources to be combined. Provides independent control over each signal's loudness and stereo position. A device which allows combination of different audio signals together and outputs them in mono or stereo. Mixers come in many sizes and are referred to by the number of channels (different audio inputs) they have. Most software sequencers also have a mixer onboard which lets you control the volume levels of the individual parts of your song.
Mixing: - Reduction and adjustment/enhancement of larger amount of independent audio signals into a smaller amount.
Mode A simple definition of this complex and diverse term would almost certainly be inaccurate, while a full discussion is beyond the scope of this glossary, but here goes. Essentially a type of scale. If the notes used in a melody all appear in a given modal scale, and if the melody begins or ends on the base note (final) of the modal scale, the melody is said to be in that mode. The modes most commonly referred to can be obtained by playing only (and all of) the white piano notes between certain keys and their octaves thus: Ionian C - C, Dorian D - D, Phrygian E - E, Lydian F - F, Mixolydian G - G, Aeolian A - A. Modes are most commonly encountered in folk and ethnic music. The modern major and minor scales correspond to the ionian and aeolian modes respectively. So it seems that tonal music (most of the music written in the last 300 - 400 years) is based on only two of a number of possible scales, and it is interesting to note that while much European art music has confined itself to a thorough exploration of only these two modes, the rest of the world and European folk musicians have been quietly exploring all the rest and others. In defence of the apparent narrow mindedness of European art musicians, it must be said that the other modes do not easily lend themselves to the systematic and hierarchical structures beloved of them.
Modular Digital Multitrack (MDM): A multitrack digital recorder with (usually) 8 tracks that can be run in synchronization with other machines (of the same type) to attain more tracks. ADAT brand recorders are an example.
Modular Synthesiser A synthesiser where the individual sound generators or processors such as oscillators, filters, amplifiers, envelope generators etc. are physically separate units which can, or have to be, connected together by the user. This is usually achieved by simply plugging a cable from one unit's output to an input on another or the same unit, using a patchcord. The earliest synthesisers where of this type and this is the origin of the usage "patch" to describe the parameter settings on modern synthesisers which no longer use this arrangement. Systems of this type where made by Moog (series III), Roland (System 100 and 700) and Korg (MS10, 20 etc.). These systems were very flexible and led naturally to creative experimentation, but were expensive to manufacture and market. This resulted in a newer generation of synthesisers which had a more or less predetermined signal path, which were often less flexible but easier to use. There has recently been a revival of interest in modular synthesisers and there are still manufacturers making them.
Modulation - the fast oscillation of one or more operators or sound waves of a synthesized sound. Commonly used in FM synthesis to add some complexity and texture to a sound. Many MIDI controllers and keyboards provide a specific wheel or slider for controlling the modulation of an instrument sound (often referred to as the mod-wheel). The process of one audio or control voltage source influencing a sound processor or other control voltage source. Example: Slowly modulating pitch cyclically produces vibrato. Modulating a filter cyclically produces wa-wa effects.
Modulation Index: The depth of modulation when performing frequency modulation.
MODULATION WHEEL - one of several common continuous controls on a MIDI device. Often used to add a vibrato effect to a sound.
Module Identifier: The screen that displays information about what module is currently activated.
Module: Same as tone module or sound module or tone generator. See tone module.
MONITOR: A reference loudspeaker used for mixing. The action of listening to a mix or a specific audio signal.
MONITOR:VDU display for a computer.
Monophonic - only one note of an instrument may be played at a time. An instrument that can play many at once is said to be polyphonic. Monophonic instruments usually cut-off the sound of previously played note with the start of new one. (Instrument/Synth): - Synthesiser (or other instrument) which is only capable of playing one note at a time. See also polyphonic. The ability (or restriction depending on your viewpoint) of an instrument such as a clarinet or some types of synthesiser to play only one note at a time. Generally a monophonic synthesiser will follow a rule to deal with any occasion when two notes appear. It might play the most recently received (remember that in MIDI although you think you play a chord, the notes are sent individually one after the other sufficiently fast (usually) that you think they sound together), or it might play the note with the highest pitch. Some MIDI controllers require synthesisers that can work monophonically across a number of channels, six in the case of a MIDI guitar. Thus although the synthesiser may be polyphonic it is working monophonically on each channel (2). If you think about it a real guitar can be considered to be six monophonic string instruments.
Monotimbral - only one instrument sound (timbre) may be played at a time. Older synthesizers were often monotimbral before sequencers where invented, which enables musicians to play multiple parts on the same instrument. A monotimbral synthesizer may be able to play multiple notes of the one instrument sound simultaneously.
MOTHERBOARD: The main circuit board within a computer into which all the other components plug or connect.
MP3 (.mp3) - MPEG Layer III, digital audio compression format achieving smaller file sizes by eliminating sounds the human ear can't hear or doesn't easily pick up. For more, see our MP3 codec section. Stands for MPEG 1, Audio Layer 3. It is an encoding format which takes out all the irrelevant data in a recording and compresses the remaining data. An MP3 file can be 1/12 the size of an original recording taking up far less space on a computer’s hard drive, making it feasible to email the audio file, post on the web, make MP3 CDs and use with personal music players such as Apple’s iPod. Audio Layer-3, or MP3, is the compression technology commonly used to make digital audio computer files relatively small while maintaining high audio quality. It is one of many formats used for uploading and downloading on the Internet.
mp3pro - audio codec developed by Thomson Multimedia that attempts to achieve the same audio quality in smaller file sizes than MP3
MPEG Audio: MPEG stands for the "Moving Picture Experts Group", working under the joint direction of the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electro-Technical Commission (IEC). This group workson standards for the coding of moving pictures and associated audio. MPEG audio files can be either layer I, II or III. Increasing layer numbers add complexity to the format and require more effort to encode and decode. However, they also provide higher playback quality for the sample bit rate. Files can have sampling rates of 32000, 44100 and 48000 Hz and be in stereo or mono. MPEG compression is a lossy algorithm based on perceptual encodings, which can achieve high rates of compression without noticable decreases in quality. Typical compression rates are around 10-to-1.
MPEG2: Compared to MP3, MPEG2 provides higher quality music compressed to 70% of its original size and accommodates up to 48 audio channels and sample rates up to 96kHz.
MTC: MIDI Time Code; a MIDI sync implementation based on SMPTE time code.
Multi-Disc Compilation/Box Set: Two or more recordings packaged together and sold as a set.
MULTI-SAMPLE: The creation of several samples, each covering a limited musical range, the idea being to produce a more natural range of sounds across the range of the instrument being sampled. For example, a piano may need to be sampled every two or three semitones in order to sound convincing.
Multisampling": - When a sampler records a musical instrument accurately at a certain pitch, then that pitch should be reproduced accurately. If, however you stray up or down the keyboard by a few octaves, you may find that the pitch is less accurate, and has "drifted" somewhat. When this is the case it is necessary to "multisample" or make multiple recordings of the original instrument at certain points in the musical scale (eg every octave) to keep the drift under control. This is known as "Keygrouping".
Multistage Envelope Generator See Envelope Generator.
MULTITIMBRAL - having the ability to produce many different musical timbres (sounds) at once. More than one instrument sound (timbre) may be played at the same time. Most modern synthesisers, samplers and sound cards have this capability. A musical device that is not multitimbral is said to be monotimbral. A synthesizer, sampler or module that can play several parts at the same time, each under the control of a different MIDI channel. A synthesizer, sampler or module that can play several parts at the same time, each under the control of a different MIDI channel. In sequencing, a multi-timbral sound module can play several parts on different channels simultaneously. A multi-timbral device is one that is prepared to sound like more than one instrument at a time.
MULTITRACK - in traditional recording technology, the ability to layer multiple different audio signals at once. In MIDI software, the ability to layer numerous MIDI data streams. A recording device capable of recording several parallel parts or tracks which may then be mixed or re-recorded independently. A recording device capable of recording several 'parallel' parts or tracks which may then be mixed or re-recorded independently. A way to record a complex musical piece by dividing it into simple tracks, and combining the tracks during playback. Ability to record and process several separate streams or "tracks" of audio, either together or at different times, to be played back as a synchronous whole, then probably "mixed down" to a stereo (two track) master for replay on ordinary systems.