Essential Music Production Vocabulary

Xavier Capdepon Music Production TipsXavier Capdepon has been producing music for almost 5 years now, so he has had to learn the vocabulary to improve his discussion quality with other producers and more importantly improve his own production abilities. As a music producer, it is vital to know the vocabulary that the best in the business use. Below are some essential music production vocabulary that all music producers should know.

  • Fade in/Fade out – This term refers the the increasing or decreasing of the volume on an audio clip. This typically occurs at the beginning or end of audio clips, as most music software allows you to automate fades at the beginning or end of audio clips. This allows for a smother transition between your audio clips.
  • Compressor/Limiter – These are standard music production audio effects that allow the producer to control the dynamics (intense swings in volume) of their audio recording or musical performance. A limiter is set in place to limit certain volumes of sound. A compressor is closely related to a limiter, but there are options to make the volumes coincide with other track volumes.
  • Reverb – A reverb is a popular audio effect that are added to audio tracks to simulate sound bouncing off the walls in a small room. This is a way to increase the space of a particular sound and keep it from sounding too flat. A reverb is defined as amount of time it takes an audio signal to bounce off of a wall (or something else) and return to the listeners eardrums.
  • EQ (equalization) – Different sounds have different frequencies. For example, bass sounds have lower frequencies, and melody sounds tend to have higer frequencies. EQing adjusts the amplitude of audio signals at particular frequencies, and producers use this to get rid of certain unwanted frequencies on various sounds. 
  • Mixing – mixing is used to distinguish each sound on a different track. A mixing console is used to mix sounds of various microphones that you would have set up in a studio. Producers want to have audio coming from multiples sources so they can mix them together and make them sound clear. The different channel strips assigned to the various microphones allow the producer to arrange the volume and tone of each channel.

To read more about how Xavier Capdepon sets up his production schedule, read more on his last blog post here.

The Three Pronged Approach to Music Production

Xavier Capdepon Music ProductionOne of the most difficult aspects of music production is getting caught in all of the small detail that can keep you working on a song for much longer than anticipated. This is something that I like to call the music producer’s “black hole.” A producer’s “black hole” is something that all young producers have a problem with these days. They will spend hours trying to perfect a synth or kick drum, which ends up wasting time and energy. One method that a lot of producers use is to split up your music production in three deferent processes.

The first process is the creation. This is when you first start out, figuring out which instruments, synths, and drums you will be using for your song. Get creative with your sound design and focus more on the structural elements rather than how the sounds are meshing together during the first process. Three main questions to consider are:

What kind of emotion do you want to evoke?

What tempo and energy level do you want to have?

What are the main sounds that you want to focus on?

The second process is the mixdown. This portion of the production process can easily take up a lot of time during the creative process. When you find yourself tweaking small aspects during the creative process; stop, remember the three separate processes, and continue with the sound creation. It’s important to let your song sit for a while after the creative process, so the producer can listen to his creation with fresh ears and a new perspective. The main audio effects that a producer focuses on during the mixdown are the volume levels, compression, and EQ.

The third and final process is the mastering. Normally producers do not do their own mastering. If you are a producer that does his or her own mastering, then you are repeating the steps before the mixdown. Save the mixed track, so you don’t get lost between mixing and mastering.