Words To Describe Music To Your Mastering Engineer

by | Apr 14, 2018 | Blog Articles | 0 comments

In this Blog post, I hope to point you in the direction of great words to describe music to your mastering engineer at Sigil Of Brass – non-technical words that will speed up the workflow and help achieve what you want. See, I used to teach English; true story. I was not the normal type of English Teacher who is oppressed by the government, but an English Teacher in East Asia who taught English as a Foreign Language – I was a TEFL Teacher in my early Twenties. In this blog post I hope to tell you how some non-technical words to help describe your music to a mastering engineer.

Yes, there are technical terms that can be deployed, but most of my clients are semi-professional music producers more than people who have been to a Conservatoire. I will now go in to a bit of detail –


Well, I thought I would get the most technical aspect and word out of the way first: musical texture.

In music, texture is how the melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition, thus determining the overall quality of the sound in a piece. Texture is often described in regard to the density, or thickness, and range, or width, between lowest and highest pitches, in relative terms as well as more specifically distinguished according to the number of voices, or parts, and the relationship between these voices. For example, a thick texture contains many “layers” of instruments.

In musical terms, particularly in the fields of music history and music analysis, some common terms for different types of texture are:


  • Monophonic
  • Polyphonic
  • Homophonic
  • Homorhythmic
  • Heterophonic
Timbre (Very Important)

One of the basic elements of music is called colour, or timbre. Timbre describes all of the aspects of a musical sound that do not have anything to do with the sound’s pitch, loudness, or length. In other words, if a flute plays a note, and then an oboe plays the same note, for the same length of time, at the same loudness, you can still easily distinguish between the two sounds, because a flute sounds different from an oboe. This difference is in the timbre of the sounds.

Timbre is caused by the fact that each note from a musical instrument is a complex wave containing more than one frequency. For instruments that produce notes with a clear and specific pitch, the frequencies involved are part of a harmonic series. For other instruments (such as drums), the sound wave may have an even greater variety of frequencies. We hear each mixture of frequencies not as separate sounds, but as the colour of the sound. Small differences in the balance of the frequencies – how many you can hear, their relationship to the fundamental pitch, and how loud they are compared to each other – create the many different musical colours. Words used to describe the Timbre of a piece can be –

  • Reedy
  • Brassy
  • Clear
  • Focussed or unfocussed
  • Breathy (pronounced “BRETH-ee”)
  • Rounded
  • Piercing
  • Strident
  • Harsh
  • Warm
  • Mellow
  • Resonant
  • Dark or Bright
  • Heavy or Light
  • Flat

The ‘Dynamics’ of a piece of music describe the Amplitude of the piece – how loud or soft it is.

As a Mastering Service I can help change the dynamics of various frequencies within the piece – so if you want a louder bass or a softer high-hat then please get in contact and I will see what I can do for you.

Yes, there are technical terms for Dynamics, but, I am looking at this page through the eyes of someone who has not had a music education and they are a music producer. Just say ‘Loud’ or ‘Soft’.

Share This