Sample library elements – A creative approach in production

Greetings producers, sound designers, “beatmakers”, musicians. Hope your day is going well. Last night I took some time to again categorize samples from sample CDs I get from the magazines Future Music and Computer Music. Some of you have read my previous blogpost on how I organize my sample library by genre, loops (bpm), instrument, etc…on two external drives – one connected to my studio computer and the other 750GB portable drive I pack with my Macbook for mobile production.

During last night’s session, I was auditioning some soul and funk drum loops and hits. The loops folder included the full mix loop, the individual drum loop (with/without kick and snare) and a folder of individual hits. As I listened to each loop, I decided whether it would be something I’d be prone to want to use for a future track or just leave on the DVD. While all the loops were excellently recorded, I thought back my days of programming drum machines I owned for the drum and percussion tracks I needed. This was, of course, before the advent of samplers. Though I could take the individual hits and load them into my DAW’s (Logic Pro’s EXS24 or Ultrabeat) sampler and map them across the keyboard *OR* load them into my MPC, I wondered if using loops AS IS, was just the lazy man’s approach to music production. While I’m not here to debate whether it is or not (nor would I even spend the energy to do so), I thought that because of how I had to take a beat in my head and translate it to the drum machine of choice at the time. Of course, the drum machine was dependent upon the quality of the PCM samples (or whatever format it used), so drum hit flexibility was no where near along the lines of samplers – and – in the minimal sense, assigning individual drum samples across your keyboard is pretty much the same thing, there is something, to me, about taking a loop and using it as is. Easy, yes…I’ve done it a few times, but is it really lazy?

Over the weekend I spotted the latest Computer Music magazine. This one’s title is “The Ultimate Sample Collection”, complete with 7.3 GB of samples from the well respected vendor, Time and Space – 2109 samples in all. The mag is jam packed with articles, tutorials on sampling – especially using Logic Pro in the examples, which is pretty cool. Oddly enough, as I read an article on Jon Carter and Alex Blanco (Loopmasters Block Party Essentials sample DVD), an interesting sidebar captured my attention. Here’s the quote:

“Like a lot of producers in the business, we know that there are a lot of great collections out there nowadays, with some great sounds and vibes. We also know that theres a way to employ samples from these packs in your tracks and imbue them with youyr own unique groove. There’s no reason not to, as long as you’re creative with them as you would be with samples that you make by yourself. The other good thing about using somebody elses samples is that you can find inspiration and add variation to tyour tracks by going for a different style to usual. By picking a sample collection that isn’t necessarily designed for the genre you’re working in (tech-house for a hip-hoptrack or jazz breaks for a techno production, for example), you will find uyourself entering fresh territory, and with a sonic palette that you probably wouldn’t have found just by going through your all-too-familiar collection. The key is never to just drop a loop in (unelss it’s a remix, you’re in a hurry, you’re on a flat fee and it fits perfectly!) – always try to make it your own in some way.”
Interestingly enough I was thinking how I can employ samples from the really popular genre of dubstep into the house, soul/RnB, instrumental jazzy hip hop, and chillout/downtempo tracks I like to write and produce. I like the substance of the quote above – it always reminds me that in the plethora of samples and construction kits available (free and otherwise), use creativity and variation employing them. Not to say, you wont come up with a smash hit like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” (drum loop taken straight from Apple’s Garageband/Logic loops library and slowed down a little), if you use a straight loop, but …u follow me.

Thanks for the read…

::: oceans of rhythm :::