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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description

Drum Machine

A device that simulates percussion patterns. Used often when band members are short, for practice (to lay down a beat to use as reference), or in certain musical genres (hip hop, house).


Any alteration of a signal -- can be desirable, with controlled distortion through effects boxes, overdrive, etc., or unwanted, such as with noticable distortion in hi-fi equipment caused by poor components.

Digital Synthesizer

Synthesizers where sound is generated much like it is with analog synthesizers, though all processing and filtering is done digitally. Usually capable of much more realistic reproduction of natural instruments, though this is not always desirable. A common complaint is that digital synthesizers sound colder than their analog counterparts.

Digital Modelling Amplifier

An amplifier that emulates the characteristics of other amplifiers, allowing for near authentic tone with much more versatility and a vastly lower price.


An effect where the original signal is repeated after a short interval.


A logarithmic scale of an audio signal's intensity.


Digital audio tape -- a very common means of digital recording.


Reduction of the signal's dynamic range; makes quiet sounds louder, and louds sounds quieter. Often used to smooth the sound of an instrument and to increase sustain.

Control Voltage

A method of controlling analog synthesizers -- used for pitch control (with VCOs), loudness control (VCAs), etc.


A method of adding depth to a sound, by rotating part of the sound in one channel out of phase with the other.


With MIDI, there are 16 channels over which data can be transmitted. With mixers, a channel is an input.


The signal that is modulated by the modulator or program wave.


The opposite of amplification -- when a signal's amplitude is reduced.


A very simple envelope type, with only attack and release.


A complex envelope, probably the most common. Allows for fairly accurate recreation of real instruments' dynamics. The evelope has four parts, attack, decay, sustain, and release.


A device that, when you play a chord on a keyboard, cycles through the depressed keys in a programmed pattern.

Analog Synthesizer

A type of synthesizer that creates sounds through the modification of electrical signals.


A device used to increase the volume or amplitude of a source signal.

Amplitude Modulation

Amplitude Modulation Changing the amplitude (volume) of a signal. For instance, amplitude modulation with a sine wave as the modulator gives you tremolo.

Very fast amplitude modulation is called ring modulation. Ring modulation produces the sum and difference of all the frequencies of both the modulator and the signal being modulated.


A fairly common audio standard, an acronym for Audio Interchange File Format.


A feature on keyboards that allows you to alter the sound produced by pressing the key after a note has been released.

Additive Synthesis

The process of creating complex waveforms by combining simpler ones. Also known as Fourier synthesis.


A form of digital audio tape with 8 tracks.


An alteration of sampling rate without changing the pitch or speed of the sample.


A repercussion of an insufficient bit depth used to represent the amplitude of a signal. Quantization may create frequencies that do not exist in the original signal. This is, however, occasionally used as a desirable effect.