Sustain


Sustain

Sustain is a parameter of musical sound in time. As its name may imply, it denotes the period of time during which the sound is sustained before it becomes inaudible, or silent.

Furthermore, sustain is the third of the four segments in an ADSR envelope. The sustain portion of the ADSR envelope begins when the attack and decay portions have run their course, and continues until the key is released. The sustain control is used to determine the level at which the envelope will remain. While the attack, decay, and release controls are rate or time controls, the sustain control is a level control.

Differences

Instruments with the shortest sustain are usually drum percussion instruments; a drum beat begins to fade almost instantly. Instruments with the highest possible sustain often involve the passage of air, such as brass or the pipe organ, which have theoretically unlimited sustain. Resonating instruments such as the piano and guitar also have fairly long sustain for string instruments.

Factors affecting sustain

Within a family of instruments, sustain is affected by a variety of factors. For example, sustain in guitars is determined by factors including body construction (hollow versus solid), body woods, the placing of strings (through the body or atop the body), and pickup design. In electric guitars and pianos, dedicated effects pedals are available that prolong the sustain-phase of a tone. Its counterpart in synthesizers is the "S" (for sustain) in the ADSR envelope.

The sustain pedal is the electronic equivalent of a piano's damper pedal. In most synthesizers, the sustain pedal latches the envelopes of any currently playing or subsequently played notes at their sustain levels, even if the keys are lifted.

Increasing

There are musical devices used to increase sustain, known as "Sustainers", such as the patented Fernandes Sustainer guitar system and the EBow, which can be used to produce virtually infinite sustain.

There are many factors that affect the level of sustain in guitars. The most obvious ones are the craft work and the quality of the wood and other material.

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  • sustain — sus·tain /sə stān/ vt 1: to support as true, legal, or just 2: to allow or uphold as valid sustain an objection compare overrule 1 sus·tain·able adj Merri …   Law dictionary

  • Sustain — Sus*tain , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Sustained}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Sustaining}.] [OE. sustenen, susteinen, OF. sustenir, sostenir, F. soutenir (the French prefix is properly fr. L. subtus below, fr. sub under), L. sustinere; pref. sus (see {Sub }) +… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sustain — sus‧tain [səˈsteɪn] verb [transitive] 1. if a company sustains losses or other difficulties, it has them: • Like other insurance companies, we have sustained heavy losses. • The record industry sustained a sales …   Financial and business terms

  • sustain — Fowler s view in 1926 was that ‘sustain as a synonym for suffer or receive or get belongs to the class of formal words, and is better avoided’, and its use in the contexts of injuries, losses, hardship, etc., is still widely disliked. Fowler was… …   Modern English usage

  • sustain — [sə stān′] vt. [ME susteinen < OFr sustenir < L sustinere < sus (see SUB ), under + tenere, to hold (see THIN)] 1. to keep in existence; keep up; maintain or prolong [to sustain a mood] 2. to provide for the support of; specif., to… …   English World dictionary

  • Sustain — Sus*tain , n. One who, or that which, upholds or sustains; a sustainer. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] I waked again, for my sustain was the Lord. Milton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sustain — [v1] keep up, maintain aid, approve, assist, back, bankroll, bear, befriend, bolster, brace, buoy, buttress, carry, comfort, confirm, continue, convey, defend, endorse, favor, feed, foster, go for, help, keep alive, keep from falling, keep going …   New thesaurus

  • sustain — late 13c., from O.Fr. sustenir hold up, endure, from L. sustinere hold up, support, endure, from sub up from below + tenere to hold (see TENET (Cf. tenet)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • sustain — 1 *support, prop, bolster, buttress, brace Analogous words: *continue, persist, endure, abide: uphold, back (see SUPPORT): *prove, demonstrate Antonyms: subvert 2 *experience, un …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • sustain — ► VERB 1) strengthen or support physically or mentally. 2) bear (the weight of an object). 3) suffer (something unpleasant). 4) keep (something) going over time or continuously. 5) confirm that (something) is just or valid. DERIVATIVES sustainer… …   English terms dictionary


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