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Getting The Most Out Of Your Samples

Sampling is an art that's been around for decades. It has been turned into a "staple" of music production. Historically popular with the MPC, nowadays sampling has been made easier than ever. No longer do you have to dig through crates of records, but you can literally sample ANYTHING. BUT....it's what you DO with those samples that the magic begins to happen!


From Pete Rock, to Kanye West, these generational talents understood that its more than just "finding the perfect record" to chop. Let's take a look at some ways you can take some of your old samples and give them new life with these creative techniques.


 

Just like there are many ways to cook food, there are a plethora of ways to manipulate a sample. Here is a short list of techniques that will get you started for endless possibilities and creative inspiration.

  • Pitch/Transpose

  • Reverse

  • Loop

  • Delay

  • Reverb

  • EQ/Filter

  • Plugins

  • Transform to Midi

 

Pitch Shift/Transpose

Presonus Studio One Transpose Function

One of the simplest ways to manipulate a sample is to change its pitch. Pitch is the quality that makes it possible to judge sounds as "higher or lower" in a musical sense. If you've ever heard the "chipmunk" voice or overly deep "monster" voice, then you've heard a pitched sample. Different software gives different options. You can use a pitch shift plugin or a transpose function.




Reverse

Another great tool is to reverse a sample. Reversing samples is great because it completely changes the texture AND the direction of the said sound or progression. Try taking chords and then reversing them for awesome melodic applications. Its also great with drums/percussion. Reverse cymbals are one of the most common techniques for swells along with reverse snares! Play around with different sources and see what you come up with.


Loop

Sometimes you can find a sample WITHIN a sample. This is most common with loops or phrases instead of one hit stabs/samples. If you have a loop, try moving the start and end points to see what variations you can come up with inside that sampled. You'd be surprised to find that you can get REALLY cool variations/flips just by starting and looping the sample in different spot.


FX: Delay, Reverb, EQ/Filter

Fab Filter Pro-Q3 EQ Plug-In

FX are an incredible way to change up a sample. The most common FX to use are Delay, Reverb and EQ. Delay adds repeats to a given signal which changes its rhythmic qualities substantially. Reverb manipulates a samples' sense of space, making it sound up close or far and distant and gives you that washed out feel. (a lot of Drakes songs feature this.) EQ adds or subtracts frequencies, changing the tonality of a given sample. If you have every tweaked the "bass" and "treble" in a car stereo then you have already done the basics of EQ. A filter is basically a preset eq curve, but just easier to use for a given task. Hi-pass and Low-pass filters are the most popular.


Transform to Midi

Some DAWs allow you to take an audio file and turn it into midi. This is a cool "are you feeling lucky" kind of way to mess with a sample. Sometimes the results are not so great, but sometimes the results are beyond what you would have ever thought.


Plugins

There are tons of FX plugins dedicated to processing audio. Output's "Movement" is one that comes to mind. It can add a multitude of effects simultaneously and automate them as well. Some of those effects include gating (a chop type effect) reverb, pulsing, eq/filter curves etc. These plugins are often highly programmable and can do complicated automations.



So there you have it!

A few different ways to get you started on tweaking samples and give them fresh life. Download our free "DEMO" Pack to get started! (Don't worry it's free even though it says buy now)



 

Stay tuned, as each upcoming week I will be doing a video "deep-dive" into each of these techniques one-by-one showing you how to use and apply them all in real life situations.


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