Sampling 101: How to Sample Music for Beat Production

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or those of you new to this style of production, sample chopping, or flipping, is exactly what it sounds like; taking a sample and segmenting it. This is a production technique that revolutionized hip-hop, and it’s still in heavy use these days.

Imagine cutting strips of the Mona Lisa apart with a scalpel and gluing it back together to resemble your own rendition of a Banksy sculpture.

Sample chopping is a process that creates an audible collage of an entirely new melody, beat, or chord progression. Basically, it gives you free rein to break down monuments and recreate your own. Music or audio is sampled and completely reconstructed into a new pattern and put behind a beat. Oftentimes, producers layer complex arrangements by sampling multiple sources such as songs, speeches, cartoons, film, radio programs, TV commercials, sound effects, memes, YouTube, and so much more.

Watch 9th Wonder Flip a Sample

  1. Record or import the sample into your DAW or sampler/sequencer
  2. Edit the sample
  3. Chop the sample
  4. Flip the sample
  5. Build the beat

Finding and Recording Samples

There are a few different ways to get samples. Traditionally, this style of sampling starts from ripping audio from vinyl records. You can rip digitally, sure; however, vinyl has a favorable warm and fuzzy texture that is irreplaceable and highly sought after to get that raw unmatched sound. It’s up to you. CDs, MP3, vinyl, tape – it’s all fair game.

Once you find good material, record or drag it into your DAW or sampler.

For a slightly more detailed guide on finding samples, read this guide.

Processing and Editing Audio Samples

This is a really important part of sampling. Essentially, you want to edit the sample in a way that isolates only the part you want to use. There are several good reasons to edit sampled material. Firstly, not everything comes

Audio Editing

Sometimes when you record or import a sample into your DAW or sampler, you might have extra audio that you do need. These areas can be cut out. Just make sure to edge up the transients of the audio you intend to keep

Audio transients are the spike in amplitude at the beginning of a sound in a waveform. For example, the very beginning moment of a snare drum cracks.

Normalization

Normalization might be helpful as well, if you have a really quiet sample. Normalize only if you need to give it a little boost in volume.

There are a ton of other editing tools you can use creatively (transpose, reverse, stretch, filter, etc.)

Applying Effects

Reverb, delay, compression, EQ, saturation, phaser….the list goes on.

Applying effects to segmented samples can give your arrangement a unique flavor. Don’t limit yourself to the bare minimum though. Like every other area of making music – if it sounds good, do it.

Sampling and Sequencing

To flip a sample, you have to “chop” or divide it into several different sections. This way, you can arrange the segments into a new pattern. Take advantage of whatever

You can chop, or segment, the sample in whatever way works best.

Sample chopping is usually carried out with a sampler/sequencer such as an Akai MPC, a Maschine, or a Roland SP1200; however, taking advantage of a software sequencer offers an array of tools to edit and process samples with plenty of flexibility. How you use samples creatively depends entirely on your ear, workflow, and production goals.

Check out this video of Pete Rock explaining how he flips a sample.

When looking for records to sample, inspiration can spring up anywhere from Mozart to Motown.

Music production is a highly subjective endeavor, and there is no “right” or “wrong”. The best advice I can offer is to keep an open mind and work on developing your own style. There isn’t one video or article that can teach everything on creativity and innovation.

Sampling is a production technique that involves a ton of trial and error. My short guide is just stepping stone into more complex methods. By experimenting with different sampling techniques, you can begin implementing what works best into your personal workflow.

Hit the crates!


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