Exotic Sampling Tricks

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By Francis Preve

The first thing you do when you get a sampler is to record your roommate or pet, then play a riff on your keyboard for a cheap laugh. After a while, you get into looping and modifying your samples with various synthesis features. What happens when you’re a pro? You push the limits and come up with really creative approaches to manipulating audio. Here’s what our roundtable has to say on the topic of exotic sampling tricks.

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Matt Lange on time stretching
One of my favorite sound design tricks with Kontakt is to emulate old school time stretching. The trick is to create a loop in the wave editor and set its length at about 1,000 samples—a good starting point. Press a key, and the sample should be looping pretty quickly, and it might even be buzzing a little depending on the material. From here, assign your controller’s modulation wheel to modulate the loop start point, which can be found under the “Mod” tab in Kontakt’s Source panel. If you now move the mod wheel while holding a note, the start point of the loop will slowly evolve according to your control, all while the start point is looping quickly: very easy, controllable time stretching! While I recommended the mod wheel because everyone has one, don’t be afraid to try LFOs, envelopes, or MIDI CCs out of your DAW as sources. I personally like to map loop start time and loop length to controllers. Note that Kontakt must be in “Sampler” mode so it loads the loop into RAM for processing. Direct-from-disk (DFD) mode won’t work for this technique.

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Morgan Page on digital camera audio
Believe it or not, I like to sample with my Canon Elph camera. It’s got an amazing compressor! I use this to document crowd reactions to new music at shows and snap good quasi-HD video footage. The audio never distorts and is always nice and crisp. It’s great because you can record how the music is physically interacting with the space and bouncing off the walls. I still want to try using it to sample a live band, or maybe using it to re-amp some drums, guitars, or vocals.

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Boom Jinx on multiple synths for chords
To the extent you can call bouncing a sampling trick, here’s something I like to try when laziness is not a part of the equation: If I’m ready to commit to a chord progression, I’ll try having different synths play different
sounds for each individual note in the chords. This can give you sounds you’ll never hear coming straight out of a single synth, especially when you blend different types of synthesis.

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Josh Harris on sounding like vinyl
I like to create musical samples that sound like they were lifted off of an older record, particularly when I work on a disco house track, or a track that’s built around a musical sample. I’ll play-in the bass, keys, maybe some guitars, and then bounce the four- or eight-bar idea down as a sample. The sample is mixed and treated to sound like a record of 25 years ago. I use filters and compression to color it and give it that legit sound.