How To Get The Most From Your Samples
We are almost in 2022, but unfortunately, using samples to produce is still seen as a bad thing.
Just visit any group of music producers on Facebook, Instagram, or blogs and read some posts.
I'm sure you'll find someone who demonizes the samples and labels them as "the death of music and creativity."
Personally, I don't think so.
Samples are very useful to inspire you to create new songs.
I like to think that using a sample is like collaborating with the artist who created it.
But, it's also important to make a sample "personal" to avoid sounding like other producers.
How can you make a sample "personal"? 🤔
You can do it in many ways. You can chop it, add fx, layers, etc.
Samples must be a "starting point" for your tracks, not the final result.
For this reason, in this article, I decided to collect some techniques to help you to transform a sample into "your sample."
1. Pick up a loop and chop it
Loops are great. They give you instant inspiration.
But try to go beyond that.
Take a loop you like, use the editing tools in your DAW or sampler plugins, and try chopping and rearranging it to make something original.
You can also combine multiple loops to create a new one. (Pay attention to the key if they're music loops or vocals. 😉)
In the video below, I used two bass loops from our sample pack, "Revolt," and mixed them to create a new one.
2. Add FX
This is the easiest way to transform and personalize your samples.
There are tons of effects you can use, from simple reverb, delay, and chorus, to more complex plugins that combine many effects simultaneously.
These are the plugins I often use:
✅ XLN Audio RC-20 Retro Color
✅ D16 Group Decimort 2
✅ D16 Group Devastor 2
✅ All the Soundtoys stuff
✅ Camel Crusher (FREE)
✅ Valhalla DSP Valhalla Room
✅ Freakshow Industries Dumpster Fire
✅ Freakshow Industries MISHBY
✅ Sonic Charge Permut8
✅ Xfer SerumFX
To get more particular and original results, create your own effects chain by combining your favorite plugins.
Thanks to this technique, it is possible to create different loops from one sample.
In the video below, I chose a bass loop from our sample pack, "Legions," and edited it with a couple of plugins.
3. Add layers
Layering is one of the most effective ways to customize your samples.
This technique combines multiple sounds to obtain a new one; it is often used on drums (kicks, snares, percs, etc.) but can be used with any sample.
Have fun experimenting with layering different sounds to create samples that can perfectly fit into your tracks.
In the video below, I used two kicks and one hihat from our sample pack, "Physical", to create a new kick.
Most DAWs include their own time-stretch features.
If your DAW doesn't have this feature, you can use plugins like HalfTime and Gross Beat.
Stretch a sample to two, four, six, or even ten times its original length.
You could create a longer tone that will respond well to further processing. If you want to stretch it even more, bounce it and repeat!
Experiment with different time-stretch modes to get different and unusual sounds.
In the video below, I used time-stretching to edit three different samples (two songstarters and one fx) from our sample pack, "Bando Trap."
5. Convert Audio to MIDI
Bouncing audio to MIDI is a quick and effective way to personalize and create new samples.
Ableton has a native feature that allows you to export audio into MIDI. You can choose from three different modes:
- Convert Harmony to New MIDI track (This command identifies the pitches in a polyphonic audio recording and places them into a clip on a new MIDI track.)
- Convert Melody to New MIDI track (This command identifies the pitches in monophonic audio and places them into a clip on a new MIDI track.)
- Convert Drums to New MIDI track (This command extracts the rhythms from unpitched, percussive audio and places them into a clip on a new MIDI track.)
If you don't have Ableton, you can use tuning software such as Melodyne, which offers a super-handy Auto-to-MIDI function.
The great benefit of converting audio is that you can use the MIDI to layer complimentary chords alongside a sample, add extra instruments, or reinforce the original chord's missing frequencies.
You can also extract melody and chords from your samples and play them with your favorite vst, such as Serum, Kontakt, Omnisphere, etc.
These are just some of the ways you can customize your samples. You must try new combinations and methods not to limit your creativity.
Remember, experimenting is the key to find your sound. 💪
Hope you'll have a great day.
- Federico (Tex)