Music Glossary B

Music Glossary B

Music Glossary B is a collection of music industry terms, words, and phrases, that begin with the letter “B”, from Back-Tracking to Bypass.

Music Glossary B

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Music Glossary B Terms


This is recording the combination of a live sound with a previously recorded backing track.

Back Catalog

The collective name given to previously released works (singles, EPs, albums etc) of a writer or artist. For example: the EMI Parlophone recordings of Radiohead.

Back End

Performance royalties paid by a Performance Rights Organization to creators as a result of a piece of their music being broadcast or otherwise played.

Sync Fees are paid upfront to license music for TV or film.

Performance Royalty is paid on a quarterly basis after the music has been publicly performed.


This term is applied to any wall or enclosure used for mounting a loud speaker.


The relative signal levels of the left and right channels in a Stereo Pair.

Balanced Line

This is an electronic cable that uses twin signal cables, both isolated from the earth, that are of opposite polarity but equal potential. This kind of cabling is often used for microphone connections. A Balanced Line is commonly used to reduce noise picked up by the cabling. As the polarity of each of the signal cables is opposite, this means that they are 180 degrees out of phase. Any noise introduced to the signal during transmission is picked up equally by both wires and can then be eliminated during the re-combination of the signal using Phase Cancellation.

Band Call

In the days before sound checks, the “band call” gathered together the artists on the bill, before performance time, to confirm that everyone was ready and available to perform.

Band Contracts

A contract that specifies the rights of individual band members, within a band partnership. It also specifies how the members will get paid. Without a band contract, if it is not owned by individual band members, equal shares are assumed. Anything other than equal shares must be specified in the form of a contract.

Band Pass Filter (BPF)

A filter that attenuates frequencies above and below the selected center frequency. Frequencies within the band are boosted.


1. The frequency range between the 3dB down-points in a frequency response.

2. The amount of information throughput in a system.


Known as a “measure” in the United States this is the space between two barlines.


Voice halfway between a Bass and Tenor with a roughly 2 octave range starting at G an octave and a half below middle C.

Barre Chord

A barre chord is a type of chord played on a guitar, or other stringed instrument. The performer uses one or more fingers to hold down two or more strings (at a single fret on a fretted instrument) on the instrument fingerboard. Imagine a bar being used to press down on the strings. The barre may make up all or part of the chord. The strings being barred do not need to be next to each other.


The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors is a trade association acting on behalf of lyricists, composers and songwriters.



1) Lowest adult male voice ranging for 2 octaves above E almost 2 octaves below middle C.

2)Name used for the largest (normally) instrument in a family of instruments. For example Bass Guitar.

Bass Trap

In a recording environment, putting foam in the corners of the room can help to keep the recording from sounding muffled of bass heavy, these are called “Bass Traps”.

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Unit of time measure in music. Time signature varies the number of beats in a bar.


Beats are the regular variations in amplitude caused when two similar sounds that are close in frequency are played simultaneously. The resulting addition of the sound waves causes a periodic pulsing in the overall sound. This is something regularly witnessed by string instrument players during the tuning process.


This is the unit used to measure the magnitudes of power. 1 Bel is equal to 10 decibels (dB).

Berne Convention

Short for “The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works”. First accepted in Berne Switzerland in 1886, it is an international agreement governing copyright.

For information on the history of Copyright, read “Almost Everything I Know About Copyright”:

Almost Everything I Know About Copyright Part 1

Almost Everything I Know About Copyright Part 2

Almost Everything I Know About Copyright Part 3

Bias Trap

This is a low-pass filter in the replay circuit of a tape machine. This removes any HF Bias. Bi-directional This is microphone with a figure-of-eight polar pattern.


This is caused when spill from audio or control circuitry, or an external source, spills onto the audio signal. The additional signal may be at a high frequency (HF Bias), or a DC offset (DC Bias).

Big Three Record Labels

Major record labels:

  • Univeersal Music Group
  • Sony Music Entertainment
  • Warner Music Group

These there labels control 88% of the music market place.

Bill Matter

Bill matter is now rarely used. It refers to how prominent an artist‘s name is on promotional gig posters.


This is how sounds are perceived and the placement of the source is determined when a sound wave arrives at both ears. In Binaural Recording, this effect is captured by placing a microphone at each ear or using a simulated head that contains microphones in the position of the ears.

In the digital domain Digital Signal Processing (DSP) has been used to simulate the binaural effect by treating a mono source signal with a Head Related Transform Function (HRTF).


A Bit is an individual binary digit. A Byte is a collection of 8 bits.

Black Box

Royalty collection societies can’t always find all the people that they have collected royalties for. This includes members they might have lost contact with and non-members. Any collected royalties falling into these categories are held by the society as “black box” income.

Black box income is dealt with in different ways in different countries and organisations.

Publishers and record labels might also hold black box income for both untraced writers and artists or writers they have lost contact with.

In each case, the society, publisher or Label establishes a pool of licensing income. This pool is the so called “black box”.

Blank Media Levy

Some countries levy a tax on blank recording media, such as cassettes and CD-Rs, and media recorders. The tax is supposed to be a way to compensate for illegal copying, which is made possible by media recorders and blank media.

Blanket License

A license where the terms of the license are the same for everyone. Rights-owners who sign a blanket license agreement get a collection of terms that fit most cases. If you don’t want companies of a particular kind (say alcohol, or tobacco) to use your music in their advertising, a blanket license that specifies that condition, or provides you the possibility to opt out of that license (it may not always be possible), is required.

Blanket Licenses are often issued by Performing Rights Societies, where the Licensee is entitled to publicly perform any songs under the control of the Performing Rights Society, not just individually licensed songs.


When recording several instruments at once, if there is not enough isolation you can hear a little of another instrument on a track, this is called bleed.

Blog Marketing

Advertising a website, brand, product or service using a blog. This includes ads, posts or links that appear on blogs.


Broadcast Music, Inc. is a PRO. BMI supports its songwriters, composers and publishers by helping them to get paid. BMI supports businesses and organisations that play music publicly by offering blanket music licenses that permit them to play nearly 12 million musical works. Both relationships save each time and money.


Booking Agent/Talent Agent

A representative of an artist/band who arranges for any public performances and other opportunities.

Booking Agents have the authority to secure employment and other engagements, entering into a limited set of contracts, on behalf of an artist/band.

In some territories, you need a special license in order to legally act as a Booking Agent.

A Booking Agent is hired by a band manager to book gigs and set up tours on behalf of a band. They receive approximately 15% of the gross take, each night, for gigs they have arranged. The gross take is normally a set fee, paid by each venue to the band, and commonly an additional amount that is a negotiated “share of the door”, i.e. a percentage of the ticket sales. As it is paid from the gross figure, this is before the deduction of any tour costs such as transportation or accommodation.

Booking Agents also plan the route of any tour they arrange and they assess the suitability of venues, including if each gig is profitable enough. Profitability takes into account transport costs and all other tour expenditure should that gig be included in the itinerary.

Booking Agents book gigs using local music promoters.

Boolean Algebra

This is a branch of mathematics concerned with logic analysis and manipulation of binary numbers. As such Boolean Algebra is one of the main cornerstones of Digital Electronics.


Unlicensed releases. Normally, though not always, live or demo recordings, or unapproved remixes, using unlicensed source music.


The British Phonographic Industry is the UK record industry trade body representing major record labels and large independent record labels.



Beats Per Minute. BPM is used to measure the tempo of music.

Break Beat

The sampling of a drum break as a drum loop. Originally taken from Soul tracks these drum loops are used to create the rhythm tracks for Rap and Hip-hop music.

Break Jack

A jack plug that, when inserted into a jack socket, breaks the normal circuit connection. Most commonly used in recording studio patch bays.


Commercially, a post digital sampling music genre.


1. Instrument On a stringed instrument, the bridge is mounted on the instrument body. The strings, held by the tail piece, pass over the bridge and are suspended over the neck until they pass over the nut.

2. Musical Section Connecting passage of contrasting music between two important themes in a composition and commonly in popular music, a musical bridge is used to prepare for the return of the original theme.

In thirty-two bar form (AABA) the bridge (B) is also known as the middle-eight or release. In verse-chorus form the bridge is less constrained.

Music contrast in the bridge is achieved by rhythm and / or tempo change, and often by a change in the key of music.

Bridge is sometimes used to describe a section between a verse and chorus, commonly called a pre-chorus. In the classical music sonata form the transition between the two themes is also called a bridge, although it is more formally called a “transition theme”.

Regarding lyrics, the bridge is often used as a mechanism to reflect on the previous lyrics and to set up the listener for the pay off or climax of the song.

Broadcast Quality

Broadcast Quality is a term used to refer to recordings where the overall sound is a suitable quality for broadcast, as distinguished from a demo recording where the quality of the recording as a whole is not quite there. It is a purely subjective measure of recording or audio quality, but more than that, it includes the quality of the song and even the musical performance. Exactly what makes the cut as broadcast quality, is dependent on the music genre.

Budget Record

A record, sold by a distributor, normally at between 1/2 and 2/3 of the price of top-line records of a similar format.


A section of a song, known as the “Build” because it builds intensity. See Pre-Chorus.


This is a common phrase for mixing a number of tracks together, and recording the result onto a new track, as a means of freeing up tracks on a multi-track recorder. For example mixing 5 tracks together into a stereo pair. The original 5 tracks can then be wiped clean. This also sometimes called ‘jumping’ or ‘bouncing’.

Bus Bar

A common earth.

Business Manager

Business managers are often an accountant, who deals with the artist’s finances. This includes managing both business and personal bills, investing, overseeing investments, and preparing tax returns. Typically, a business manager charges artists in the region of 2% to 5% of their income.


An audio signal path that a number of inputs may be connected. The Buss signal can then be used to feed one or more outputs. In a Mixing Desk the Buss is essentially a wire to which individual channels can be connected, using a switch. The wire is normally fed into a combining or summing amplifier to allow the signal to be mixed with others.

Button Ending

A mix-arrangement term, where the entire band stops at once, generally with a naturay decay. No big cymbal crashes and no mix fade out..

Buzz Marketing

Low-cost, viral marketing technique, relying on word-of-mouth. It relies upon taste makers, trend setters and group leaders to spread information to a selected individuals. Rumour, innuendo and leaks are used within an informal or social group setting. It is very effective with a target audience who do not trust advertising messages.


A Bypass is an alternative signal path that avoids a particular circuit or system in the audio chain.

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