The word is “stem,” and what it refers to in music isn’t — in this case — the narrow vertical shaft of a single note in a written score, but the separate audio elements that are later combined to create a single track.
These are the constituent parts of a studio recording, and they’re the sort of pieces provided as a set in various remix contests, such as the one listed here earlier this week for ace Nigerian afrobeat drummer Tony Allen (disquiet.com, tonyallenremixcontest.blogspot.com; due date: July 7).
That contest offers, in MP3 form, the 15 parts of the title track of Allen’s new album, Secret Agent. Not to be outdone, Senegal’s Baaba Maal has provided 29 separate parts of the title track of his new album, Television, recorded with New York’s Brazilian Girls. The files are all available in a Zip archive at baabamaal.tv (due date: August 10). All in all, it’s less music than the Allen set, because this batch consists mostly of 20-second riffs, bits of vocals, guitar, and percussion that were looped in the construction of Maal’s song. However, there are some highly recommended chunks of sound in there, loopable and listenable to on their lonesome, notably recordings of tabla and djembe. All files are in WAV format. (Found via twitter.com/timprebble.)