For 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 reign to break down monuments and recreate your own. A song is sampled and completely reconstructed into a new pattern and put behind a beat.
Watch 9th Wonder Flip a Sample
Here Are Some General Tips
A lot of this will vary depending on what DAW or hardware you use.
- Record or import the sample into your DAW or sampler/sequencer
- Edit the sample (sometimes it needs to be trimmed up)
- Chop the sample
- Flip the sample
- Build the beat
Find and Record the Sample
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 a cool sample, record or drag it into your DAW or sampler.
Edit the Sample
This is a really important part of sample flipping. Essentially, you want to edit the sample in a way that isolates only the part you want to chop and flip.
Edge It Up
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 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.)
Chop the Sample
To flip a sample, you have to “chop” or divide it into several different sections. This way, you can build a new pattern around the sample (flipping).
Check out this vid of Pete Rock explaining how he flips a sample.
Pete Rock on the MPC
You can chop, or segment, the sample in whatever way works best.
Flip the Sample
This is the fun part. After you have the samples chopped, mess around and flip a pattern. Traditionally this is done on an MPC, SP12, or the like.
There’s absolutely no right or wrong way to flip a sample. Go with what feels right in the moment, and don’t be afraid to stumble back to the drawing board.
Music production is a highly subjective endeavor, and there is no “right” or “wrong”. Sample chopping is the same, but there are some general tips that can lead you to some killer material.
When looking for records to sample, inspiration can spring from anywhere in the stack from Mozart to Motown.
It all depends on what you want to sample to produce music. For example, I personally aim for records from the 50s or records with piano and strings. A lot of my music is driven by sounds that originate from that style. On the other hand, you might want to sample something from the disco or classic rock eras. Remember, there is no “right” or “wrong” when sampling. The sky is the limit.
You simply have to dig for what inspires you in music. Be creative and dig for records that encompass what you value in music, sounds good, and offers an edge to your music production.
Step outside your comfort zone! Traditionally, hip-hop producers flip samples from jazz and R&B, but this doesn’t mean you have to. Inspiration can strike from any corner of the record store; country, classical, rock, blues. Staying open minded will really open up the possibilities.