Music Glossary C

Music Glossary C

Music Glossary C is a collection of music industry terms, words, and phrases, that begin with the letter “C”, from Cadence to Cymbal.

Music Glossary C

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Music Glossary C Terms


This is the concluding phrase either at the end of a section of melody, or the end of the complete melody.

There are some standard cadence formulae:

Perfect – dominant to tonic

Imperfect – tonic to dominant

Plagal – subdominant to tonic

Interrupted – dominant to something other than tonic


Originally devised by the national society of Switzerland, SUISA, Compositeur Auteur Editeur (French language for Composer, Author, Publisher) is the international, 9 digit ID code once used to identify rights holders in the field of music rights management..

The CAE code It is being phased out to be replaced by the IPI code.

Call To Action

Statement that both motivates and encourages website visitors to participate and take action. This could be filling out a form, signing up for a mailing list or making a purchase.


‘Cans’ is just another name for headphones.


A capacitor is an electronic component that is capable of storing electric charge. Amongst the many uses for these components are there use in analogue filter circuits and the Capacitor Microphone.

Capacitor Microphone

The Capacitor microphone is also called a Condenser or Electrostatic microphone. The audio signal is generated by the variations in the capacitance between one or two diaphragms and a fixed plate. Normally this kind of microphone will require either a battery or external power source to provide a polarizing voltage. This kind of mike is commonly used for high quality audio applications.


The Capstan is the drive spindle on a tape machine.

Cardioid Microphone

This is a unidirectional microphone. The name is derived from the distinctive polar (microphone directional response) pattern, which resembles a heart shape.

Catalog / Catalogue

  1. Distributors – The catalogue of a distributor refers to the entire collection of products they have distribution rights for.
  2. Music Publishers – The catalogue of a music publisher is the entire collection of works that they control the publishing rights to.
  3. Record Labels – The catalog of a record label is the entire collection of master recordings (audio and audio visual) they own or otherwise control.


UK – An electronic system for sending details of recordings from record labels to PPL and MCPS for inclusion in the PPL Repertoire Database.

CatCo is owned by PPL and is free to PPL members.

Certificate of Authorship

Short-form agreement, usually in relating to a long-form agreement, asserting that a work is a “work made for hire”. A certificate of authorship is submitted to the United States Copyright Office, so that the owner of the copyrighted work can avoid publicly disclosing the terms of the long-form agreement.

Normally scoring for a motion picture starts well before the long-form agreement is fully agreed. The composer is normally required by the producer to sign a Certificate of Authorship before any money is paid to them in relation to the work in question. It also means the composer cannot claim an infringement of his copyright if the long-form agreement doesn’t get signed.

Channel (Song Section)

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A section of a song, known as the “Channel” because it channels the listener from verse to Chorus. See Pre-Chorus.

Chase Lock Sync

The slave “chases” the master by rewinding and fast forwarding till it gets to the right location. Used with SMPTE.


3 or more different notes played at the same time. If only 2 notes are played the third note is implied.


  1. Singers – Another name for a group of singers where there are more than 1 singer performing each part.
  2. Song Section – The chorus is intended to be the most memorable part of the song. It is repeated several times so that it sticks in your mind. Several other tricks are used to help it stick.Commonly a chorus:Contrasts with the verse, rhythmically, melodically, lyrically, harmonically and / or dynamically.A chorus is repeated at least once, both musically and lyrically. Usually several times.It is more intense, has more energy. A chorus usually has a greater musical and emotional intensity than the verse.Lyrically:The main message and /or concept is expressed in the chorus. The title / main hook of the song is usually included in the chorus. The chorus is often a conclusion about the main theme, or a comment about it.The hook is often at it’s best when it is a good tag line or slogan representing the song. The chorus is the best place to showcase the tag line. The chorus is repeated for good reason. Repeating anything makes it more memorable. That is why you want your tag line here. It is also why you want the Song Title to be the main hook, and why you are wise to put some effoirt into finding the right hook / title… because it ends up being used so often in the song, and anything worth devoting that much song real estate had better be good.Take a look at our article “Creating A Song Title” for more in-depth details about choosing a suitable title.Most songs start with an introduction and then the verse. Some songs will start with the chorus, or with an introduction based upon the chorus theme, or with the full chorus.


Contemporary Hit Radio is also known as top 40 radio.


In essence the use of “accidental” notes.

Chromatic Scale

A musical scale where the consecutive notes are separated by a semi-tone interval.


The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (French: Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Auteurs et Compositeurs, CISAC) advocates for strong legal protection of copyright and authors’ rights. It is the world’s largest Collective Management Organisation (CMO), a network of copyright and royalty collection societies, collecting societies, and Performing Rights Organisations (PROs).



The right to use music depends on it being cleared with the copyright owners, i.e. Permission must be given by the copyright owners before you use a copyrighted work. Clearance is needed for more than commercial use. Terms for clearance are negotiated through collection societies, record labels or publishers.

Click Track

This is an audio track that contains a metronome beat at the tempo of the music. This allows musicians to synchronise acurately to a film or parts recorded during another performance.


A section of a song, known as the “Climb” because the level of emotion increases. See Pre-Chorus


Distortion due to overloading of an audio signal. In the Analogue domain this is normally caused by the peak signal voltage being limited by the audio circuits’ power supply voltage. In the Digital domain, clipping occurs at 0dB.

Co-Administration Agreement

A type of publishing agreement between music publishers, where each has administration rights over part of the song. As an example, this could be an official mash up, or where co-writers are signed to different publishers.

Co-Publishing Agreement

A type of publishing agreement where the songwriter, or their publishing company, agrees to share the copyright of one or more songs with another publisher. The music publisher they share copyright with is also granted exclusive administration rights for the song(s) governed by the agreement.


A songwriting partner. Without a governing contract, all co-writers jointly own an equal share of a work. A governing contract can override the percentage share of ownership.


Coda is an Italian word for “tail”. These are the closing lines of a song which brings it to a close. It is not uncommon for the Coda to include aspects of both Ad Lib and collision sections. The coda is an optional addition to a song.


A contributing creative partner involved in writing a song or piece of music.

Collection Costs

Legal fees and other costs incurred when a lawsuit is necessary to collect money agreed in contract and, when an audit is deemed necessary, the fees and other costs charged by the auditor.

Collection Societies

Collection societies issue licenses to music users and share the collected license fees among copyright owners (normally record labels, publishers, writers and performers).


A collision is a song section where different parts of music overlap with each other. Collisions do not tend to last very long, and usually they occur towards the end of the song. It creates tension and drama which makes it ideal to use during one of the later chorus sections. A common source of collision themes to collide with the chorus theme are the middle eight and the pre-chorus melodies.

Coloration (Colouration)

Coloration is the change in frequency response caused by resonance.

Commercially Satisfactory

A common term in recording agreements. When an artist hands over a contracted recording, or set of recordings (as per the recording agreement), it will not be considered as “delivered” until the record label believe the record could realistically sell a commercially significant number of units. This measure is a subjective decision, where the judgment about an anticipated number of unit sales is what is deemed “commercially satisfactory”. The judgement is made by the record label. For some record contracts, if the record is stylistically similar to previous recordings from the artist, and it is of a good quality, the record is deemed to be “delivered”.

Common-Law / Poor Man’s Copyright

In the USA, this is the underlying protection for a song based upon the common laws of the various individual states. On January 1, 1978 Common-Law Copyright was replaced by a national copyright system .

Compilation Album

An album containing recordings by more than one artist.


This is the process of creating a single, composite recording from a number of ‘takes’. This can be done in both the analogue and digital domains.


Someone who writes music.


A creative work, especially music.

Compound/Hybrid Song Form

Compound song forms use a blend of two or more song forms together within one song. This is a combination of two or more song form structural concepts where a base song form is used to describe the overall song architecture, and the structural concept of other song forms are is inserted into the base song form, replacing one of the existing named sections.


A compressor is a device for automatically controlling the level of an audio signal. This has the overall effect of reducing the dynamic range of the source signal. See our guide to Compression below.

Songstuff Compression Article


Complimentary tickets to a concert.

Compulsory License

In the USA, an exception to the copyright holder’s exclusive rights of reproduction and distribution is made such that when a song is published in the USA, anyone can record a commercial cover version of it provided the appropriate mechanical license rates are paid to the copyright owner of the original work.


Another name for a Capacitor Microphone.


Agreement where the retailer only pays the artist for sold inventory. This includes media and merchandise. Commonly, the retailer holds stock in reserve. When a sale is made, the retailer purchases the product from the reserve stock to make the sale.

Controlled Composition

A term, and corresponding clause, used in recording contracts and producer contracts, mainly in the United States.

A controlled composition is a musical composition, or part of a composition. Written, by an artist or producer, it is owned or controlled, to some extent, by the artist or producer, or an entity that they own.

Controlled composition clauses, lay out mechanical royalty rates for controlled compositions. They also specify other controlled composition terms.

Controlled composition mechanical royalty rates are normally expressed as a percentage of the statutory rate.

Original arrangements of public domain works are usually considered to be controlled compositions. They typically earn at a reduced mechanical royalty rate than original works written by the artist.

Conversational Marketing

Marketing on social media, promoting products and services using public discussion on forums, blogs, interactive chats etc.

Conversion Costs

Cost of converting music recorded for phono to an audiovisual production format or vice versa.

Conversion Rate

Ratio of of customers to purchase a product or service versus the number who saw the sales message, expressed as a percentage. Conversion rates are also used for mailing list sign ups, membership registrations etc.


Copyright license that asserts public domain conditions for use and distribution. They also try to ensure that future changes are available to everybody, equally.

Typical terms included in the license are attribution for the originators of the work, free distribution, and provision of the same license terms for any derivative work. Copyleft was originally used for software products, before being adopted for other creative content.

A mirror of the standard copyright symbol is sometimes used for copyleft. The symbol itself has no legal meaning.


Music copyright provides creators and owners a legal basis for certain restrictions on copying, adapting or otherwise using creative works, commonly including (but not limited to):

  • Dramatic works, including any music used in the work;
  • Musical works, including any words used in the work;
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works;
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • Sound recordings;

Copyright protection for an original work of authorship does not extend to any idea or concept relating to or expressed in the work.

Although subject to exclusions, in the USA, copyright owners are granted the rights as described in Section 106 of the Copyright Act.

Specifically, the owner of copyright under has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:

  • Reproduction of the copyrighted work as copies or phono records;
  • Creation of derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
  • Distribution of copies or phone records of the copyrighted work to the public by sale (or other transfer of ownership), or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • Public performance of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • Display of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work;
  • Public performance / broadcast of the copyrighted sound recordings

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

Copyright Act

Most countries have their own equivalent of the copyright act. In the USA, “Copyright Act” means the Copyright Law of the United States of America, specifically, Title 17 of the United States Code.

For further information, visit Copyright Act.

Copyright Control

This is when copyright is retained by a writer. In other words copyright of a work is not assigned to a third party, such as a music publisher.

Copyright Infringement

The unauthorized use of a copyrighted work.

Copyright Notice

A copyright notice is used by a copyright owner to claim possession of a published work.

A copyright notice must include:

  • Either the word “copyright,” or the “©” symbol
  • The year the work was first published
  • The copyright holder/owner name

Copyright Office

The Copyright Office is a part of the U.S. Library of Congress. Copyrights are registered with the Copyright Office by filing either physical materials or electronic files.

Copyright Registration

This is the act of filing a claim of copyright on a work with the Copyright Office (Note this doesn’t happen in the UK as the UK system does not have a central Copyright Office.). In the USA registration can be done manually, using paper based forms, or electronically.

Copyright Royalty Board

The CRB is a three-judge panel appointed by the US Librarian of Congress. The CRB determines compulsory rates, like Mechanical royalties, in relation to the Copyright Act. (Section 801 of the US Copyright Act.)


When a record label puts a track on a record featuring more than one artist. For example, when a record label places a track on a compilation album.


When a song is recorded or performed by an artist, who is not the original songwriter, it is known as “a cover” of the original version.

Depending on country, anyone can perform, or record, a writer’s work, under the terms of any assignments (if they exist), and cleared through a collection society or music publisher. Such blanket licenses usually see the writer being paid both mechanical and performance income.

Creative Commons

Boilerplate, share-alike copyright licenses that bring together variants of copyleft and creative content.

Free distribution licenses are permanent. They cannot be revoked.

Creative Commons are normally indicated with a symbol made from two letter Cs, but the correct legal symbol is actually the standard copyright symbol.



Collective term for the group of people who work for, and travel with, an artist on a tour. Fellow performers are not included.


Short for Customer Relationship Management, CRM is a business software service, increasingly used by professional bands and artists.

CRM software is used to manage a broad range of fan interactions. For example, CRM software is used to manage the personal details of fans including managing the email database, any fan communications, the logs of any activities, transactions, and complaints etc.

CRM software commonly integrates with commerce platforms providing the integration of buying, ordering, accounting alongside call centres/telephony and other services.

Cross Collateralize

This is the mechanism used by a record label to recover or recoup an album advance from a variety of income streams, including those relating to other albums. When signed to a record label, all advances and royalties, between that label and artist, will normally be pooled into a single pot.

The income streams that will be leveraged in such contracts are likely to be very diverse.

As an example: In the circumstance where an individual, who is both a writer and an artist, signs “cross-collaterized” publishing and recording agreements with the same company, or affiliated companies, any advances paid to the artist under either agreement can be recouped from any income that relates to either of the agreements. Tin other words, publishing royalties or recording royalties can be used to repay the advances relating to either or both of the publishing or recording agreements.


Fading one element or track of a mix out, as you fade another one in.


If a song gets airplay in more than one genre, market, chart, or format, it is a Crossover.


When one signal “spills” or “leaks” onto another signal during the transmission process. For example when two audio cables are routed adjacent to each other and signal leaks from one onto the other.

This most commonly happens with poorly shielded cables carrying signals with sharp transient spikes. This is due to unwanted conductive, inductive or capacative coupling between the two cables (or anywhere on the cirtcuit).

Crosstalk is also applied to unwanted spill (bleed, leakage) from an unwanted acoustic sound source into a microphone, for example bleed from a singer’s headphones onto a vocal recording, or hi-hat hits onto the snare microphone. This is effectively acoustic coupling.

Cue Sheet

A cue sheet gives details of timing and other song information for use in a film, video or broadcast. A cue sheet can list musical works and their duration, to help with royalty collection.

Custom Record

This is an “on demand” custom Physical Record, that has been manufactured specifically for a consumer who selects the individual recordings to be included on the Physical Record. This manufacturing process may be in the form of a vending machine.


A song recorded by an artist is known as “a cut”. The term “cut” likely derives from etching or cutting processes used when creating physical records.


Physical Records that are distributed for retail sale on as non-returnable items. (See Returns.) Often defaced (for example, by clipping the corner of an album sleeve or in the case of CDs, by drilling a hole in the corner of the Jewel case). Artist Royalties are NOT payable for cutouts.

Cyber Locker

Audio or video storage that can be accessed online by an individual or a group.


A piece of circular metal with a bell shape in the center used as part of a drum kit to create crashing or other glass like sounds. Cymbals can be created by using a hand hammering process or by using a lathe. Different types of cymbals include Crash, Ride, Splash, Hi-Hat, Bells, and Chinas.

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