This wins our Book of the Month Award because it has the best
cover. Actually, it looks good on the inside too, and when you've
been wallowing in nostalgia there's nothing like browsing through
a dictionary of hi-tech terms to alleviate those feelings of
It's a glossary of 1500 terms intended to cover the area where
music, technology, and recording meet. What exactly is House
Music, Hip Hop, Ska and New Age? The book tells you. Fractal
Music? That's here too.
Puzzled over Insert Points, Balanced Lines and Busses? Wondered
about Waveforms and Wavelengths? It's here. Want to know what
Oversampling is, how Aliasing is caused and the effects of Quantisation
Error? You know where to look.
What's the difference between a Daisy Chain and Star Network
and what are Running Status and Active Sensing used for? The
Jargonbuster puts facts like these at your fingertips.
It's dotted with illustrations and includes a 'route map'
of words by topic - musical styles, music, electricity, recording,
Sound, Synthesis, MIDI, digital audio, and computing.
In all, a usefull book to have to hand when you read an article
and see a word which you don't understand. Of course, that doesn't
happen often at Keyboard Player...
Music Technology is an ever-developing area which comes with
a language of its own. And it can often be the case that the
words in this "language" sound a darn sight more complicated
than that which they describe.
Enter glossaries - although as we knowm some soerve to confuse
matters even further. In fact, The Studio Musician's Jargonbuster
begins with a quote about dictionaries and watches: "The
wordst is better than none", it says, "and the
best cannot be expected to go quite true".
So where does this leave us, the users? I don't know about
you, but my preferred response to a writtern explanation is "So
that's what it means. Why on earth didn't I understand it better
before?" And I found myself saying that a number of times
as I ventured through Jargonbuster. The book is very readable
and, actually, very interesting.
As you would expect, definitions are arranged in strict alphabetical
order with comprehensive cross-references, whilst a number of
diagrams and charts carry explanations yet further. The words
themselves surprised me. Amongst the 1500 definitions I was expecting
to come accross the Envelope Generator / Multisync / Impedence
/ Channel Message type words - and I did. But it was a refreshing
change to find interspersed things like Copyright, Ragtime, circle
of fifths, lyp sync, World music, Vocal score, Musical periods,
Engineer... I could go on.
To quote the author, this book "is not a glossary of
music nor is it a glossary of technbology or recording. It is
a guide to the twisting pathways through the territory where
these disciplines meet."
The 111-page volume concludes with a "route map"
which links key entries for a number of important topics. Actuallym
although it's at the end of the book, it's an idea starting point
for helping newcomers place the words into some sort of context,
rather than enthusiastically attacking the book at A and hoping
to have understood evrything by Z.
The author's criterion for selection has been to define terms
most likely to be encountered by a studio musician. Whilst "studio
musician" may sound like the professional end of the market,
bear in mind that as captain of your own simple set up at home
(particularly if used to record an end result) you, too, can
justifiably award yourself the same title and benefit from what
this book has to offer. My copy will certainly stay close at
Distributed by Musonix.co.uk, The Studio Musician's Jargonbuster
should be available through all good book shops.
With each new field of expertise a form of newspeak evolves;
a secret club language known only to the initiated. While doctors
may have had a monopoly on spurting non-sensical jargon, the
music technology profession has its fair share too. The Studio
Musician's Jargonbuster contains more than a thousand of
these words, each clearly and concisely explained, and listed
alphabetically for easy reference.
Many different subjects are encompassed in the book; things
that you might not have expected, like musical styles, electricity,
and computing terminology, partner with the more familiar themes
of sound recording, synthesis, MIDI, and digital audio. A 'route
map' is included on the last pages so all the definitions relating
to a certain theme can be cross-referenced without having to
sift through the whole book, which is useful. The book also unravels
the mysteries of the millions of acronymns that are constantly
used without knowing exactly what they stand for.
Musical entries inlclude translations if Italian phrase markings,
scale types, musical devices such as phrasing and inversions,
as well as descriptions of conventional notation. Digital Audio
covers things like sampling, and digital recording formats such
as DCC, ADAT, and DASH. Usefully, a table of SI units is included
as part of the elctric entries, all of which are things we ought
to know as part of the EU.
Amongst the more mundane factual information (which is the
essential part of any bookm really) there are some quite interesting
facts. For example, the definition of the term 'Gamut' (an archaic
term, circa. 11th century, meaning the lower G note), or the
principles of the Teremin, are guaranteed to impress folk at
dinner partiesm or for capturing wedges in Trivial Persuit.
Of course, none of the entries are definitive; it would take
an awful lot of paper to compile a book such as that. But where
it is necessary, greater depth has been afforded, as has the
occasional diagram, thus making the Jargonbuster much
more than simply a dictionary.
A few of the entries are certainly questionable in terms of
relevance (few engineers will loose sleep not knowing what the
acronymn CAD means...), although no-one could possibly discredit
the inclusion of the abstractly amusing definitions of 'the cocktail
party effect' or 'tautology'. For the most part the Jargonbuster
delivers itself with entertaining and inderstandable prose, and
is worthwile if you need all your information compressed into
memorable sound bites.
Recommended on the Manchester day (November 2006) was a website
called The Electronica Primer
It looks like a really good free resource, but be careful
that its definitions match with the expectations of Edexcel!
I was also recommended a book in the Jargon Busters series
about Music Technology but have been unable to track this one
down (Any help gratefully received).
Chris Pettit's web site includes free resources for teaching
Edexcel GCSE Music 2006 - 2008: BRITPOP & DANCE