Introduction to Sampling Page 2/5
Samplers are nothing without sounds....
Samplers are great. To get the best out of them though, you need to be able to feed them with great sounds. The decisions you make about the kinds of sounds to use can affect the way a whole track turns out, so it's important to take the time to make quality samples.
One of the interesting things about sampling is that a good sound doesn't have to be a clean sound. You can bury a sample in hiss or distort it to death if you want. The important thing is that you get a sound that works in the context of what you're trying to do. Even if you do mess it up with grunge, you still need to be able to get it in and out of your sampler as accurately as you can. So, this offering is an introduction to the basics of sampling, including tips on how to avoid the common nasties - level, triggering and sample-rate problems - along with hints on how to sample creatively.
Let's start with sound sources. Acoustic sounds are perhaps the hardest to sample well. You need a good mic, a quiet venue (so you don't get any unwanted noises creeping in), a good technique to get exactly the sound you want, and bags of time to get it right.
Real sounds are a hassle, but they can be worth the effort. Creating your own grand piano samples is a waste of time because usually you can get a good set of samples from sample CD'sthat will do the job better than you ever can.
The best real sounds will take a bit of searching for out there in the real world. Some sounds (broken glass, blown bottles, assorted pots and pans) have been done to death, so are best avoided.
But others are great, and as a useful bonus become totally unrecognisable when taken out of context. Door slams, crisp-packet pops, garage-door sounds, aerosol sprays, those little balls in tins of spray paint, radiators and other kinds of plumbing, dustbin lids, oil drums, ruler twangs and car doors can all be used to create excellent percussion-type samples. Most of these can't be played as chords, but almost all will transpose down brilliantly. A garage door a couple of octaves down sounds massive, mysterious and awe-inspiring.
Next off are homemade electronic sounds. These can be an excellent source, because you can 'freeze' a favourite keyboard sound and use it again later. This works particularly well with stacks, pads, mono synths and bass sounds. MIDI up all your synths, find some patches that work together (presets will do), and hit a single note. Sample it, and suddenly you have a sound that was made with four or five synth voices, being played by the sampler and leaving your synths free for other things.
Finally, there are pre-sampled sounds, as found on sample CDs. There are now so many of these CDs, with such a wide range of sounds, that acoustic sampling tends to be done only by dedicated fanatics - or those who don't have the 60 quid or so to fork out for a sample CD, though today there is an increasing trend towards budget realeases to, costing not a lot more than a normal music CD. Check out the Links section for lots of reviews
The next step is to get the sample into your sampler. Rather than have you plough through pages of boring text, we've scattered hints, suggestions and a handy how-to guide throughout these pages. Take your time to work through the suggestions, and then get out there and get sampling. It may take you a while to get truly excellent results - sampling is a skill like any other - but once you've got the basics, the rest is easy, and then you can start to get creative with new and unusual sounds, as well as new and unusual uses for them. .