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Today’s Production Tip –
How To Sample As A Beginner
Here are the various ways to sample and how to keep it fresh by combining all the various techniques together.
In order to do this, you will need to know how to tap out a 4 count and a few other basic music theory terms but nothing too complex. Simplicity is KEY, especially for all of us in our first few years.
Looping The simplest and easiest way to sample is to loop. I recommend anyone just starting out producing who wants to get into sampling to just learn how to get a 4 bar loop down in their DAW. It’s a relatively simple thing to do with a little music theory but can be a profound exercise when you get a good loop that hasn’t been played out already. To loop you will need to tap out the bpm of the song you are sampling, once you do this change your daw’s bpm accordingly. Then zoom in all the way in on the 1, (side note: make sure the song is in a 4/4 time signature otherwise your beat will be kind of wonky) cut/trim right at the zero crossing, aka the point where there is no audio being played and delete the proceeding part of the file that isn’t the first beat. Line the 1st beat exactly up with the 1 on your daw’s grid, set it to a 4 bar loop and if it matches up with the metronome voila you have created a loop! Try this a few times to get a grip on it, often the hardest part is catching the beat and tapping it out correctly. This is also a good way to practice getting your rhythm down.
Chopping The way I look at it chopping is it’s the next step in the producer’s arsenal, creative chopping is how many producers differentiate themselves from the pack. There are 2 ways I like to chop beats:
Loop THEN Chop – Where I loop a few 4 or 8 bar sections, really as much as I can loop, and then I split/cut the sample at every beat, half beat, quarter beat, etc. depending on how much of the ‘chop’ i want to use. Get creative with it. Doing this allows you the ability to rearrange the song you sample by maintaining its essence while creating your own new groove.
Random Chop, I don’t have a good name for this but sometimes when I can’t figure a sample out because it doesn’t have drums or it’s an unorthodox rhythm I just zoom in on the audio and play the song piece by piece choosing small intervals to split and group together and then play it out on my keyboard. To me, this is pretty hit or miss but it is a good last result if nothing else is working and has actually produced a couple of cool beats I wouldn’t have expected.
Transposing Whether you are using the EXS24 on Logic or warping on Ableton you will eventually want to start transposing your samples to alter the feel from the original songs. This is how Kanye achieved his signature chipmunk soul sound from The College Dropout days by speeding up old soul records and it is how Clams Casino created his whole washed out, demonic sound – slowing down samples. This one is more daw-specific in its execution but there are plenty of tutorials. Here are some popular ones:
Patience Don’t get frustrated, sometimes a sample doesn’t come out how you envisioned it. Either move on to another one or try again with another technique. It’s all about getting comfortable and crawling before you walk.
How I Usually Do It I find the best way to use samples effectively and creatively is to combine both looping and chopping in the same beat in some way For Example: having the chorus be a loop of my favorite 8 bars of singing from the OG sample and the verse is half bar chops of all the instrumental bits pieced together. I usually pitch my stuff up because i lean more towards that uptempo soulful Hip-Hop sound but recommend pitching samples down if you want to go for a more slowed down airy feel.
One problem that I run into often is that the drums in a sample cover up the melody I want to extract. When this happens there are really only 4 solutions:
EQ the percussion out of the sample and try to extract as much of the sample you can
Sidechain your own drums over the sample’s original drums
Just go with the flow and use the sample’s percussion (usually doesn’t work if you time warp the sample)
Recreate the melody using the closest instrument to the original you can find
- (bonus solution) Give up and scratch the vinyl.
–Sample from a kick to snare/clap.
-Use quick fades on the front and back of the sample bits to connect them smoothly (if snapping to zero crossings still ends up with clicks between samples)
-Time stretch/compress the sample to fit the bars if you can’t cut it in a way that it fits (usually happens when I use multiple samples with different bpm)
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