Music Glossary


Beats per minute: In the electronic dance music this can be understood very easily, because the quarter beat of a bar corresponds with the kick drum hits . 138 bpm means that the kick drum is hit 138 times a minute.


A chord is a harmonic set of pitches consisting of three or more notes sounding simultaneously. You can create chords by layering thirds based on a scale. Below you can see major, minor and diminished chors of a A minor scale.

Chords of A minor scale


This is just the opposite from the uplifter. This could be a shotlike sound or synthetic „exhalation“ or „letting off steam“ to lead a more energetic part into a less energetic one (e.g. break or outro).


One speaks of an interval when two tones of unequal pitch sound together. The intervals between tones are called second, third, quarte, fifth, sixth, seventh and octave.



The motif is the smallest musical unit and could contain just two tones.


Pattern here means a phrase from drum sounds and are normally programmed in bars.


The phrase ist the next larger unit und mostly contains two or more motifs.


A riff is a short, melodically or rhythmically concise motif that is characterized by ostinato repetition.


A scale is an ascending series of notes from a root note. The simplest and best-known scale is C major.

C Major Scale

The blue numbers indicate the distance between the individual tones. 1 is a whole-tone interval respectively a large second, and 1/2 is a half-tone interval respectivley a small second. Now you can build any Major scale with this: Just take a root note of your choice and increase it with this row 1, 1, 1/2, 1, 1, 1, 1/2. The simplest minor scale is the A minor.

A Minor Scale

With this row 1,1/2,1,1,1/2,1,1 you can build any minor scale. There are a lot of  other scales like chromatic, arabic, phrygian a.s.o. If you want to go deeper into this have a look here. The notes of these scales are your base material to build melodies, intervals or chords from them.


One of the main design instruments in electronic dance music – if the piece does not follow a song structure (verse/refrain) – is (oversimplified) the increase to a climax and the following decrease. So from my point of view an electronic dance music track is like a little play. Due to repetition of the sounds, motifs and phrases they are like present figures. Each track has several scenes (structure sections) next to other elements like intro and break, in which different figures appear, disappear and interact which each other.

shuffle (function)

The shuffle function can be found at drumcomputers and arpeggiators. It helps to alter the phrasing of a rhythm from a binary to a ternary one respectively adds swing to the beat.


This expression in this context has two meanings.  The melody of a synthesizer or the rhythm of a drum can be recorded on a single track of a multitrack recording machine (This could be an analog device like a multitrack magnetic tape machine or a digital audio workstation – a computer with a recording software like Cubase, Ableton Live a.m.o.). But nowadays also a whole piece of dance music is called „track“, because a lot of electronic vinyl disc pieces were produced very minimal just for the purpose to mix these „tracks“ together to one „piece“ of music with several turntables.


A short or several seconds lasting sound, whose level is steadily increased from relatively low to loud (crescendo). Today most of the time is just created from white noise, but it could contain also a keytone. Additionally the pitch of the tone could be increased gliding (glissando). This should cause the effect of a cumulation/accelaration, which leads into the next more energetic part. Still in use, but not heard often anymore: the uplifter created from semiquaver bass- or snaredrumhits, which are getting louder.

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Music Glossary