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The Collaborative International Dictionary

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.

  2. Sound modulated; melody. [R.]

  3. (Mus.) A change of key, whether transient, or until the music becomes established in the new key; a shifting of the tonality of a piece, so that the harmonies all center upon a new keynote or tonic; the art of transition out of the original key into one nearly related, and so on, it may be, by successive changes, into a key quite remote. There are also sudden and unprepared modulations.

  4. (Electronics) The alteration of hte amplitude, intensity, frequency, or phase (of the carrier wave of a radio signal) at intervals, so as to represent information to be transmitted.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 14c., "act of singing or making music," from Old French modulation "act of making music" (14c.), or directly from Latin modulationem (nominative modulatio) "rhythmical measure, singing and playing, melody," noun of action from past participle stem of modulari "regulate, measure off properly, measure rhythmically; play, play upon," from modulus (see module). Meaning "act of regulating according to measure or proportion" is from 1530s. Musical sense of "action of process of changing key" is first recorded 1690s.


n. 1 The process of applying a signal to a carrier, modulate. 2 The variation and regulation of a population, physiological response, etc.

  1. n. a musical passage moving from one key to another [syn: transition]

  2. (electronics) the transmission of a signal by using it to vary a carrier wave; changing the carrier's amplitude or frequency or phase

  3. rise and fall of the voice pitch [syn: intonation, pitch contour]

  4. a manner of speaking in which the loudness or pitch or tone of the voice is modified [syn: inflection]

  5. the act of modifying or adjusting according to due measure and proportion (as with regard to artistic effect)


In electronics and telecommunications, modulation is the process of varying one or more properties of a periodic waveform, called the carrier signal, with a modulating signal that typically contains information to be transmitted.

In telecommunications, modulation is the process of conveying a message signal, for example a digital bit stream or an analog audio signal, inside another signal that can be physically transmitted. Modulation of a sine waveform transforms a baseband message signal into a passband signal.

A modulator is a device that performs modulation. A demodulator (sometimes detector or demod) is a device that performs demodulation, the inverse of modulation. A modem (from modulator–demodulator) can perform both operations.

The aim of analog modulation is to transfer an analog baseband (or lowpass) signal, for example an audio signal or TV signal, over an analog bandpass channel at a different frequency, for example over a limited radio frequency band or a cable TV network channel.

The aim of digital modulation is to transfer a digital bit stream over an analog bandpass channel, for example over the public switched telephone network (where a bandpass filter limits the frequency range to 300–3400 Hz) or over a limited radio frequency band.

Analog and digital modulation facilitate frequency division multiplexing (FDM), where several low pass information signals are transferred simultaneously over the same shared physical medium, using separate passband channels (several different carrier frequencies).

The aim of digital baseband modulation methods, also known as line coding, is to transfer a digital bit stream over a baseband channel, typically a non-filtered copper wire such as a serial bus or a wired local area network.

The aim of pulse modulation methods is to transfer a narrowband analog signal, for example a phone call over a wideband baseband channel or, in some of the schemes, as a bit stream over another digital transmission system.

In music synthesizers, modulation may be used to synthesise waveforms with an extensive overtone spectrum using a small number of oscillators. In this case the carrier frequency is typically in the same order or much lower than the modulating waveform (see frequency modulation synthesis or ring modulation synthesis).

Modulation (music)

In music, modulation is most commonly the act or process of changing from one key ( tonic, or tonal center) to another. This may or may not be accompanied by a change in key signature. Modulations articulate or create the structure or form of many pieces, as well as add interest. Treatment of a chord as the tonic for less than a phrase is considered tonicization.

Modulation (disambiguation)

Modulation is the process of varying one or more properties of a high-frequency periodic waveform.

Modulation, Modulations, Modulate and Modulator may also refer to:

Modulation (European Union)

As part of its Agenda 2000 reforms, and effective 1 January 2000, EU member-countries may reduce (or modulate) direct aid to producers (by a maximum of 20%) in cases where:

  • the labour employed in a farm falls below a threshold set by national authorities;
  • the overall prosperity of the holding is above a certain limit;
  • and, the total payments granted under support programs exceed a limit set by national authorities.

The savings that result and those from cross-compliance or econ-conditionality (observance of environmental criteria) may be used by the member countries to supplement EU funding for early retirement measures, payments for less favoured areas and areas subject to environmental restrictions, agri-environmental provisions, afforestation and rural development.

Modulation is an essential element of the EU Commission’s Mid-term Review (MTR) proposals. Funds acquired from the reduction of payments to farms will be allocated to rural development under the MTR.

Usage examples of "modulation".

Judging by the modulations received, the Military Form deduced that they communicated through sound vibrations.

As Iberville, with Sainte-Helene and Perrot, sat watching the canoes that followed, with voyageurs erect in bow and stern, a voice in the next canoe, with a half-chanting modulation, began a song of the wild-life.

Clarke had built his own photophone transmitter from a bicycle headlight, and also played with audio modulation of sunlight by mechanical means by the time he was 13.

The modulations of the noises of wind and water, the infinite gradations and complexes of sound to be heard on the planisphere, seemed to ask him to include them, to become conscious of them and reproduce them.

Orchestra laboring, ceaseless mounting chords, no climax large enough though, disappointment coming, modulation, withdrawal, rearousal, no end either.

The data throughput of an ordinary remote control is negligibly low because is uses a very primitive method of carrier-wave modulation.

If the Furies had tried to interrupt the Enterprise shields by varying the modulation, then their ships must use the same type of modulating shield.

He commenced as a violin player, and attracted attention while a mere child by his original passages, chromatics, new harmonies and modulations.

For the modulation of speech is normally proprioceptive, governed by inflowing impulses from all our vocal organs.

Harmony, and that in His good time they will lead by infinite modulations to the great, harmonic final chord and cadence of Truth, Love, Peace, and Happiness, that will ring forever and ever under the Arches of Heaven, among all the Stars and Worlds, and in all souls of men and Angels.

He was speaking as Adela had never heard him speak, with modulations of the voice which were almost sentimental, like one pleading for love.

It was the cadences that mattered, the rise and fall of the ironic voice, the modulations, the stresses.

Then immediately others sung, others tuned their instruments, but no person was seene, by whose sweet harmony and modulation the sisters of Psyches were greatly delighted.

A computer translated it into audiovisual modulations on a signal beam and directed it into your antenna.

He adopted the same method of modulation using a record player amplifier and an Astatic crystal microphone.