Is every piece of music a "track"?

14

Coming from the question about distinguishing songs from tracks based on presence of vocals, I wonder if track is a term that can be used for every kind of musical work?

In the comments, Noach mi Frankfurt thinks that a track has to be recorded on a medium, while Unihedro thinks that the definition of the term has changed.

So, how do we define track?

unor

Posted 2015-02-25T15:06:22.390

Reputation: 3 040

Some pieces of music are performed live and never recorded. – Kyle Strand – 2016-09-15T17:39:30.643

Answers

7

Most literally, a 'track' is a section of a medium (tape, wax, vinyl) on which a physical (or magnetic) track has been created due to a recording being made or pressed there. Even during times when audio usually did correspond to a physical track, when people said 'track' they were often talking about the song/piece of audio, rather than the physical track.

Now that many media (e.g. mp3 files) don't have a physical track, the word 'track' seems to mean a recording of the type that would have been a track on a record (or other medium). So a two second mp3 file of someone laughing isn't a 'track' unless it has actually come from a sequence of other sound files arranged like an album; A song can usually be called a 'track', because we are used to songs being tracks on albums.

user16

Posted 2015-02-25T15:06:22.390

Reputation:

I agree here. I am a musician who records on a frequent basis, and someone who listens to a lot of music. Using this term to describe the discrete units on an album is slang. Another way to think of the appropriate way to use this term, think of a 4-track recorder. With this device, you can record 4 separate tracks of the same song, and mix their levels to attain the optimum sound. – Jason P Sallinger – 2016-05-31T02:18:25.973

4

According to the definition a 'track' (when referring to music) is

one of several songs or pieces of music on a CD or other musical recording:

or

a part of a magnetic strip onto which sound can be recorded, with several tracks on one magnetic strip: When a piece of music is recorded, each instrument is recorded separately on a 24 or 48–track tape.

Definition of track

So a song is a song whether live, sheet music, cd, tape, vinyl. But a track is a song or piece of music when recorded onto a physical medium.

Pat Dobson

Posted 2015-02-25T15:06:22.390

Reputation: 2 640

I think your second definition refers to each recording on the tape, not to the tape. "Each instrument is recorded separately on a 24 or 48 track tape" -> Each instrument is it's own track. Each tape has multiple tracks, so a tape is a collection of tracks, rather than just one. – cat40 – 2016-09-26T19:59:31.850

Maybe the 'or' should be an 'and'. It's one of those definitions that mean one thing to the general public and another to the professionals involved in the recording industry. – Pat Dobson – 2016-09-27T08:03:54.603