This term refers to changes of a sound waveform which occur in electroacoustic systems. Problems in an electroacoustical system which produce distortion are the following: the inability to maintain linearity, resulting in the addition of unwanted harmonics; the inability to pass the complete audio spectrum equally; the inability to handle transients; the inability to pass all signals in the same amount of time.
In electroacoustic music and some kinds of modern popular music, distortion is exploited for musical purposes. The composer may alter the waveform of the original sound by various modulation techniques. Rock groups often create distorted effects by means of feedback or by overloading the amplifiers and speakers. (reduced from Barry Truax - Handbook for Acoustic Ecology CD-ROM Edition. Cambridge Street Publishing, 1999 - CSR-CDR 9901)
See also:Creative Abuse