Words To Describe Music To Your Mastering Engineer

by | Nov 27, 2018 | Help | 0 comments

When it comes to Mastering Music, it all starts and it all ends with a conversation with your mastering engineer. I will need to know how you want your music to sound and take cues from that. I have prepared a list of terms that can help convey the sentiment needing to be expressed. These are all words to describe music to your mastering engineer.

Music can be very inconceivable and hard to describe thanks to its almost magical nature. Especially, when you need someone to translate ideas, emotions and messages into music it is quite difficult to communicate your internal musical concepts in a way that someone understands them sufficiently enough to come close to your ideas. For example, you are a film creator and want a composer to create the most fitting and beautiful music that forms a symbiosis with the deeper meaning of the images. How can you steer the composer towards the musical ideal you perceive internally? Or imagine, you are in a band, wrote the perfect song and now need to instruct your drummer, bass player and guitar player about how they should accompany you. What words do you use to make your message clear?

01 – Rhythm

  • Off-beat / On-Beat
  • 4-to-the-floor
  • Strong Beat / Weak Beat
  • Sloppy / Tight
  • Simple / Complex
  • High Density / Low density
  • Quantized
  • 4/4 meter, 3/4 Meter
  • Syncopated
  • Regular / Irregular

02 – Tempo

  • Beats per minute (bpm)
  • Tempo rubato (free)
  • Speed-up / Slow-down
  • Moderate
  • Fast (Upbeat)

03 – Harmony

  • Harmonic / Disharmonic
  • Consonant / Dissonant
  • Major / Minor
  • Tonal / Atonal
  • Simple / Complex
  • Monotonic / Evolving

04 – Melody

  • Simple / Complex
  • Staccato / Legato
  • Small / Big intervals
  • Singable
  • Catchy
  • Improvised
  • Happy / Sad
  • Uplifting

05 – Instrumentation

  • Groups: Orchestra, Quartet, Solo, Jazz band, Rock band, Ensemble
  • Single Instruments: Double bass, Violin, Tuba, Electric Guitar, Piano, Percussion, Drums …

06 – Dynamics

  • Crescendo / Decrescendo
  • Velocity
  • Loudness
  • Soft, quite, muted / Loud, intense, powerful
  • Pianissimo – piano – forte – fortissimo
  • Consistent / Explosive
  • High/Low Dynamic Range
  • Fade-in / Fade-out

07 – Texture

  • Monophonic (one melody, solo)
  • Homophonic (one main melody)
  • Polyphonic (many simultaneous melodies, counterpoint)
  • Heterophonic (chaos-unrelated melodies)
  • Dense, full, thick, fat / Light, open, spare, thin
  • Simple / Complex

08 – Genre

  • Classical: Baroque, Romantic, Classic
  • Avant-garde: Experimental, Free Jazz, Musique Concrète
  • Contemporary: Jazz, Rock, Dance, Soul
  • Pop Music / Underground Music
  • Film music

09 – Temperature

  • Timbre
  • Sound Color
  • Warm / Cold
  • Noisy / Clear
  • Overtones / Harmonics
  • Acoustic / Electronic
  • Low – Mid – High Frequencies
  • Dark, mellow, muddy / Light, pure, bright, clean, vibrant
  • Harsh, rough, shrill, piercing / Dull, muffled, boring
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