Lucid Definitions for 10 Hazy Musical Terms
CRUNCHY “Agh! This synth module is so crunchy it’s hurting my jaw!” DIG DRENCHED FAT GLOSSY SLIPPERY TWANGY WALK WARM
adj. Refers to the grit of a given sound. Overdrive on a guitar, heavy clipping on a snare recording, and low bit-rate dirty samples can all fit this description. The crunchiest sounds can have legitimately negative effects on your teeth.
verb. On paper, a synonym for “like," but its origins go, uh, deeper than that. In the jazz era, it was used in a variety of contexts, usually meaning “like” or “understand," but that usage has morphed in this new Internet age. Musico-linguistic scholars posit that Digg.com is responsible for this definition shift; When you like something, you “Digg” deeper to uncover more about it. Ya dig?
“What did you think of the new Radiohead single? I dig the video for it.”
adj. Refers to the next step after slippery. This is a noodle so covered in sauce you can’t even imagine what it looked like dry. Much like a real saucy noodle dish, drenched tones are best experienced without thinking too much about what is inside. People under mild illegal influences tend to enjoy them on a whole different plane, also much like a saucy noodle.
“That new Animal Collective album was so drenched I couldn’t even finish it.”
adj. This tone was sought after throughout much of the 1970s. Every big-time guitarist around traveled with trucks full of Marshall stacks trying to invent sound waves so big they could bowl over an entire stadium crowd. When guitarists realized it wasn’t possible and backed off, bassists kept chugging along with their naturally large waves (several feet from peak to valley, according to this vague audio nerd) well into the 21st century. In fact, it’s likely bass players will continue to employ big, fat sound waves until someone discovers an entirely different form of sound.
“These guitar sounds are so fat, they’re definitely going to knock the crowd to pieces this time.”
adj. A beautiful, shimmering, glossy sound is the type of pop perfection that many an artist strives for. Think Justin Timberlake: a glorious, subtly AutoTuned voice over pristine synthesizers and precisely mixed beats. All the edges are sanded down so there is absolutely nothing to get between the bones of the song and your losing yourself on the dance floor.
“This poppy crap is so glossy; I miss the bumpy unpredictability of Steve Albini’s productions.”
noun. Most commonly heard in the phrase “In the pocket," referring to the groove of a song. The space between the actual beats is the pocket, but just playing outside of a quarter note pattern doesn’t make you in the pocket. The implication of the term is that it’s done well. So, bad musicians: Don’t pretend you’re playing in the pocket when you really just can’t find the beat.
“I was just listening to 'What’s Going On' again — man! James Jamerson’s bass lives in the pocket.”
adj. A natural extension of the very technical terms “wet” and “dry” in reference to audio signal. Dry signal is the baseline of tone, with each additional effect (i.e., phase, reverb) contributing a new, wet layer. Slippery refers to a tone that is lightly but noticeably affected, like a saucy noodle you can still see but can’t quite get a grip on.
“Could ya turn the reverb down, bud? It’s getting a little slippery over there.”
adj. Derived from the onomatopoeia “twang,” a common country-music guitar sound. A twangy guitar is characterized by a treble-heavy sound that captures some of the more metallic, percussive elements of the instrument. Usually employed by genuine country-and-western guitarists and hipsters who “hate country” but think Sturgill Simpson is the greatest.
“That twangy music you’re listening to is so played out, turn on some Jason Isbell.”
verb. Much like a dog, sometimes the bass (both in guitar and upright form) just needs to go for a walk. A restless bass player needs an outlet of a walking bass line’s constant up and down quarter note locomotion as much as any cooped-up animal needs exercise. It’s important to keep your bass player pacified. An overly agitated mental state will only lead to another Flea, and nobody wants that — in Dog World or Bass World.
“Bass Man, you’re pacing pretty nervously; why don’t you take it for a walk. Good boy.”
adj. When mids and lows are cranked up on the EQ with highs turned down, that means a tone is warm. Nobody knows exactly why these settings evoke a feeling of warmth. It has been theorized that mid-heavy tones evoke early maternal memories of being gently sung to sleep wrapped in a freshly tumble-dried blankie. However, the connection there falls apart if your mother is Neil Young, in which case you’re out of luck.
“I have a warped perspective of what warm sounds like because my mother is Neil Young!”
“Agh! This synth module is so crunchy it’s hurting my jaw!”
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