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In electronic music, it is the act of modulating the level of an audio filter (like the cutoff filter, for example) across a signal in a constant fashion. This has the effect of changing the 'feel' of the sound in a fluid, almost subconscious, manner adding more dynamic to the music. The filter sweep is damn near the heart and soul of electronic dance music, and can be very musically effective when done correctly. This technique is popular since in many cases a sweep can be applied real time, thereby adding "live" control over dynamics.

A filter can be slowly applied to build tension toward a climax, or can be modulated back and forth to add reckless intensity.

The specific effect of a filter sweep is dependent on the type of filter used.

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