Monday, November 8, 2021

TECHNIQUE: The Art of Sampling. Part One. Introduction.

Sampling Explained.

As a soundware designer and developer, I've spent a lot of my life sampling. Sampling instruments, synthesizers, drums and creating loops and beats.
I spent the mid to late eighties developing sampling libraries for hardware samplers of the age including EMU's Emax, Ensoniq's EPS and EPS16+, Roland's S Series and W30 workstation as well as Akai's S Series, and MPC series products. 

It was back in the age when specialist suppliers understood that an extensive, ready made library of sampled sounds could make or break and instrument and a few 'hit' sounds could significantly bolster sales of a certain instrument.

In the depths of London's Denmark Street we would develop sounds with limited memory, limited sampling rates and almost impossible looping facilities. 'Time stretching' was as implausible as time travel. 

But we persevered, cross sampling from other samplers, synths, drum machines as well as developing our own original creations.

'Sounds Sell Synths (and Samplers)' was the mantra and the library creations were often accompanied by visits to sound-hungry musicians, producers and 'superstars' in and around London where we would sell our library creations to feed their expensive hardware sampler purchases via a collection of 3.5" 'floppy' disks.

At this time, sampling was becoming more affordable. The days when only the eighties megastars and mega rich could afford a Fairlight CMI or a Synclavier were over with. The ability to record a sonic snapshot and 'map' it across a piano style keyboard at semitone intervals was considered an amazing artistic boon at the time and thanks to some of the instruments mentioned above it was becoming available to musicians and artists with more modest budgets. 

Sampling has since become much more accessible through enormous advances in the size and cost of memory chips and the power of LSIs within computers. For a few hundred pounds you can now buy the necessary computer hardware and audio interface alongside the necessary software that would give you features, polyphony, and recording time that even the millionaire music megastars of the eighties could only dream of. 

If you consider that Reason Intro ships for about £60 and includes the ultra-powerful NN-XT sampling instrument alongside powerful sample editing, you get some idea of the sampling power you can purchase for so little outlay. 

Perhaps because sampling has become so much more affordable and accessible, it possible that it's taken a little for granted and maybe that's the trigger for this series of posts. Much of the sampling production techniques you might hear is now 'beat' or 'loop' style sampling which is not really what we're dealing with here. 

So although there is much material regarding sampling both on the internet and in books and magazines, maybe it is time to take another look at the 'Art of Sampling' both in terms of the basic concepts and mechanics but also look at some more creative ideas processes that artists can employ to help make their tracks stand out from the crowd. 

Here's the basic parts breakdown:

Part One: Intro. 
Part Two: Basic Sampling Mechanics. Arming, recording, normalising, and looping.   
Part Three: Keyboard Mapping. Why C3 isn't just C2 and octave higher.  
Part Four: Velocity Mapping. An instrument played harder isn't just louder 
Part Five: Sampling Synth Style Parameters and Effects. Filters, envelopes, modulators.    
Part Six: Creative Sampling Techniques. 
Part Seven: Sampling History and Landmark Instruments.  

So in part two we'll take a look at the basics of sampling and basic sample editing.

Hope you find this post useful and informative. Why not follow me at my Facebook Page for all the latest updates on technical posts, product news, and free soundware. 



The information contained within this blog post is offered on an informal basis and is correct to the best of my knowledge. I accept no responsibility for outcomes arising from the mis/interpretation or use of this information and/or associated download files. Always download files via security/scanning software. 

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