/moj'euh lay"sheuhn, mod'yeuh-/, n.
1. the act of modulating.
2. the state of being modulated.
3. Music. transition from one key to another.
4. Gram.
a. the use of a particular distribution of stress or pitch in a construction, as the use of rising pitch on here in John is here?
b. the feature of a construction resulting from such use.
[1350-1400; ME < L modulation- (s. of modulatio) rhythmical measure. See MODULATE, -ION]

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In electronics, a technique for impressing information (voice, music, picture, or data) on a radio-frequency carrier wave by varying one or more characteristics of the wave in accordance with the signal.

There are various forms of modulation, each designed to alter a particular characteristic of the carrier wave. The most commonly altered characteristics include amplitude (see AM), frequency (see FM), phase, pulse sequence, and pulse duration.
In music, the transition from one mode or key to another.

There are three principal methods of modulation in classical harmony: diatonic, in which a pivot chord is common to both keys; chromatic, in which the notes of the pivot chord are altered by a semitone; and enharmonic, in which the notes of the pivot chord, while retaining their original tones, simply assume different names. Modulation may be transitory, as in the course of thematic development, or structural, contributing to the harmonic definition of the form.

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      in electronics, technique for impressing information (voice, music, picture, or data) on a radio-frequency carrier wave by varying one or more characteristics of the wave in accordance with the intelligence signal. There are various forms of modulation, each designed to alter a particular characteristic of the carrier wave. The most commonly altered characteristics include amplitude, frequency, phase, pulse sequence, and pulse duration.

      In amplitude modulation (AM), auditory or visual information is impressed on a carrier wave by varying the amplitude of the carrier to match the fluctuations in the audio or video signal being transmitted. AM is the oldest method of broadcasting radio programs. Commercial AM stations operate at frequencies spaced 10 kHz apart between 535 and 1,605 kHz. Radio waves in this frequency range are effectively reflected back to the Earth's surface by the ionosphere and can be detected by receivers hundreds of miles away. In addition to its use in commercial radiobroadcasting, AM is employed in long-distance shortwave radio broadcasts and in transmitting the video portion of television programs.

      In frequency modulation (FM), unlike AM, the amplitude of the carrier is kept constant, but its frequency is altered in accordance with variations in the audio signal being sent. This form of modulation was developed by the American electrical engineer Edwin H. Armstrong (Armstrong, Edwin H.) during the early 1930s in an effort to overcome interference and noise that affect AM radio reception. FM is less susceptible than is AM to certain kinds of interference, such as that caused by thunderstorms as well as random electrical currents from machinery and other related sources. These noise-producing signals affect the amplitude of a radio wave but not its frequency, and so an FM signal remains virtually unchanged.

      FM is better adapted than is AM to the transmission of stereophonic sound, audio signals for television programs, and long-distance telephone calls by microwave radio relay. Commercial FM broadcasting stations are assigned higher frequencies than are AM stations. The assigned frequencies, spaced 200 kHz apart, range from 88 to 108 MHz.

Phase modulation.
      The phase of a carrier wave is varied in response to the vibrations of the sound source in phase modulation (PM). This form of modulation is often considered a variation of FM. The two processes are closely related because phase cannot be changed without also varying frequency, and vice versa. Also, the rate at which the phase of a carrier changes is directly proportional to the frequency of the audio signal.

      Like FM, PM minimizes various types of interference to broadcast reception at frequencies below 30 MHz. The two techniques are commonly used together. FM cannot be applied during the amplification of a sound signal in broadcasting, and so PM is used instead. PM is also utilized in some microwave radio relays and in certain kinds of telegraphic and data-processing systems. Other important applications of PM include communications between mobile radio units employed by the police and military.

Pulse-coded modulation.
      In pulse-coded modulation (PCM), the intelligence signal converts the carrier into a series of constant-amplitude pulses spaced in such a manner that the desired intelligence is contained in coded form. Continuous signals, such as voice messages, television pictures, and computer data, are commonly transformed into the Baudot Code or its variations, which are composed of patterns of 5 or 7 “on” and “off” pulses. PCM minimizes transmission losses and eliminates noise and interference problems because the receiving unit need only detect and identify simple pulse patterns. Moreover, the pulses, unlike continuous signals, can be regenerated electronically by repeater stations along the transmission route with virtually no distortion.

      PCM, invented by H.A. Reeves of the United States in 1939, is employed by many communications companies and organizations, including Comsat and Intelsat, for telegraph, telephone, and television transmission. The technique has proved especially useful for the exchange of digital information between computer terminals.

Pulse-duration modulation.
      Another kind of pulse modulation is pulse-duration modulation (PDM), in which intelligence is represented by the length and order of regularly recurring pulses. A familiar example of PDM is the International Morse Code, used in ship-to-shore communications, amateur radio, and certain other forms of radiotelegraphy.

      PDM was devised by the American physicist Raymond A. Heising in 1924. Besides its use in telegraphic communications by means of microwave radio relay systems, its chief application is telemetering.

      in music, the change from one key to another; also, the process by which this change is brought about. Modulation is a fundamental resource for variety in tonal (tonality) music, particularly in larger forms. A short piece such as a song, hymn, or dance may remain in a single key. Longer pieces almost invariably will modulate at least twice—away from the main key for variety, and back again for unity.

      A modulation in a short piece is usually a transition to a closely related key. In a longer piece, such as a sonata movement, modulation from the home key to the dominant key (for instance, from C major to G major)—or to the relative major key (for instance, A minor to C major)—is an essential part of the exposition section; the development section that follows may modulate to new keys several times in succession, returning to the home key for the recapitulation. The first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major (1804; Eroica) modulates perhaps 20 times from the beginning of the movement before returning to E-flat major at the beginning of the recapitulation; through all these modulations, the key signature remains unchanged with three flats, and all the new notes of the subsequent keys are indicated with accidental signs. In contrary fashion, Beethoven's Two Preludes Through all Major Keys for piano or organ, op. 39 (1789), have several passages where the key signature changes in nearly every measure.

 A simple modulation to a related key involves a pivot chord, a harmony common to both keys. The new key is confirmed with a cadence (a progression signifying the end of a phrase) incorporating the dominant harmony of the new key.

      A modulation to a distantly related key may be relatively smooth (e.g., when the pivot chord is used in a deceptive cadence), or it may be abrupt (e.g., when there is no perceived pivot chord). A chain of transitory modulations without a stable cadence in a new key is a common constituent of the development section of a sonata. Continuous chromatic modulation for long stretches of musical time, with cadences constantly postponed, is characteristic of the increasingly complex harmonic idioms of the late 19th century, beginning with the German composer Richard Wagner (Wagner, Richard)'s opera Tristan und Isolde (1857–59).

Mark DeVoto

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • modulation — [ mɔdylasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1495, rare av. 1626; lat. modulatio 1 ♦ Chacun des changements de ton, d accent, d intensité, de hauteur dans l émission d un son (⇒ inflexion). Les modulations du chant de l oiseau. ♢ Action ou façon de moduler. « Cette… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Modulation — Mod u*la tion, n. [L. modulatio: cf. F. modulation.] 1. The act of modulating, or the state of being modulated; as, the modulation of the voice. [1913 Webster] 2. Sound modulated; melody. [R.] Thomson. [1913 Webster] 3. (Mus.) A change of key,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • modulation — (n.) late 14c., act of singing or making music, from O.Fr. modulation act of making music (14c.), or directly from L. modulationem (nom. modulatio) rhythmical measure, singing and playing, melody, noun of action from pp. stem of modulari regulate …   Etymology dictionary

  • modulation — Modulation. s. f. Chant qui varie d un son à autre, suivant certaines notes ou consonances agreables à l oreille. La modulation de cette basse est fort belle …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • modulation — modulation. См. модуляция. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • Modulation — (v. lat.), der dem Ohre wohlgefällige Übergang aus einer Tonart in eine andere. Man wendet sie an, um theils durch Mannigfaltigkeit den Reiz der Harmonie zu erhöhen, theils um den Hauptgedanken eines Tonstücks (Thema) nicht so oft in seiner… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Modulation — (lat.), in der Musik der Übergang aus einer Tonart in die andre, modern ausgedrückt: Wechsel der Tonalität (s. d.), das Übergehen der Bedeutung des Hauptklanges (Tonika) auf einen andern Klang, also überhaupt der Wechsel der Funktionen der… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Modulation — (lat.), der Übergang von einer Tonart zur andern, der stets durch der Ausgangstonart fremde, d.h. nicht leitereigene Elemente bewirkt wird, dann auch der Tonwechsel in der Melodie und Harmonie; modulieren, aus einer Tonart in die andere… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Modulation — Modulation, die Abwechselung der Töne in einer Melodie; insbesonders der Uebergang aus einer Tonart in die andere, die Abweichung …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • modulation — index inflection, remission Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Modulation — Modulation,die:⇨Abänderung …   Das Wörterbuch der Synonyme

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