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An aspect applicable to a single sound and continous.


As a type of Aspect, dimension describes the musical material. As it is especially useful to music games, the definition presented employs the narrow understanding of a term "parameter" (aspect being equal to the the widest understanding of the term). For full historical overview, check Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen's treatise "Sound is Multi-Dimensional":

Historically the most important dimensions are:

  • Pitch
  • Duration
  • Dynamics
  • Timbre

The hierarchy of these parameters (in the order as above) within the Western tradition is clearly seen in the ease of coding by a musical notation (and it's historical developments).


In music game design usefulness of pitch depends on types of available instruments and the number of values relevant for the game. Pitch is usually operated in non-continous, most often well-tempered manner. Stressing it's continuity was important for some post-war composers, who developed parameter approaches, mainly Karlheinz Stockhausen:

"First, to fit all isolated phenomena into a continuum, and then work out and compose contrasting elements from this continuum"

(translated by CBN, see link above).

Pitch depends on a frequency of the sound wave. Because of the properties of human ears, pitch is bounded from both low and high. (In music games design the "low"/"high" is often a useful metaphor — an intuitive mapping to gain advantage of).

Duration and dynamics

The two parameters are of importance to music games because of their primitivity (understood positively). These are most often relatively easy to produce and control without much experience on the instrument and without much theoretical knowledge.

Dynamics depends on amplitude of a sound wave. Both duration and dynamics are one-side bounded (by silence and 0s duration) and when extended excessively to the other side of the spectrum, may cause discomfort and even harm. Depending on a genre there seems to be a negative correlation between tolerance to loudness and to length. (If people like loud music, the may not like long pieces of music and vice versa).

In the library there is a dimensions tag which often describes games at least convertible to parameters above.


Dimension — An aspect applicable to a single sound and continous.

Timbre was gradually more and more important to composers. It's prominence is famously seen in the creations of Maurice Ravel and in the klangfarbenmelodie concept of Arnold Schönberg. Insterestingly, without additional constraints it's a dimension that is not a parameter. It's continous but non-directional.

Extended technique — Any unusual way of producing sounds with your instruments or voice.

You can consider it on a scale "clean — dirty" which is an approach preferred by Roman Stolyar and good for most acoustic instruments. This usually has a "proper sound" of the instrument at one end of the spectrum shifting towards usually much more loosely specified extended techniques on the other.

As for physical properties timbre of the sound depends mainly on frequencies of its compounds (its "aliquots"). Because of that, different usage can be set for electronic instruments. Synthetizers may allow for high degree of control over the timbre, showcasing it's multidimensionality. In such a context you can use any of the available options of changing the filter, the amount of compounds, vibrato and others, and the degree of control in electronic music processing is so high, that you can actually treat all of these aspects as separate dimensions.

You can choose specific direction of timbre change depending on the needs for recognizing the game state by ear and the skill of intended performers (skill floor). In this approach a sine wave may be considered a one-side bound to the spectrum as the most basic, "timbre-less" frequency.

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