Sample usage in music production is a very debated topic. My belief is that electronic music (meaning hiphop, dance music, etc) is all sample based. Whether you’re sampling a vinyl record, use a microphone to do field recordings or record yourself playing a live instrument into a computer, you are using the power of sampling to create something new.
There are, of course, the obvious and lazy ways of sampling that just don’t cut it for some of us, but it’s important to remember that in the context of dance music, all that matters is how people are reacting to your music. Therefore it is ignorant to not consider the power of sampling when producing and remember that at one point, particularly the early 1980’s and 1990’s, there were no sample packs and you had to create your own – but sampling has dominated and defined how we do what we do since day one.
Here are five of my most used and most valued sample packs from this year. Not all of them were actually created this year, but these are my most used from 2014.
1. Blu Mar Ten “Jungle Jungle” pack
Blu Mar Ten put together this fantastic collection of old school jungle and drumNBass sounds, which were all created from 1989-1999, providing an authentic vintage sound that is very sought after by new-jacks. Having gotten their start in the early days of jungle, gaining initial momentum by being signed to LTJ Bukem’s Good-Looking Records before they “quickly grew and mutated beyond the confines of the jungle into lush experimentation with downtempo, ambient, house, breaks, techno & left-field.”
You can hear a little (if not a lot) of this sample pack in all of my work. I like to chop up the drum breaks to create new patterns, sometimes I’ll take just a snare or kick and layer it with a not-so-interesting sound and come up with something new.
2. Jedsound’s Twisted SFX
Jedsound’s free sample pack features a lot of sounds recorded seemingly around the house and just outside, lots of everyday noises that I like to re-purpose to either layer for texture or outright use as a musical note.
For example, the sample of the chair being dragged across the ground that makes a sort of Chewbacca-esque groan, can be popped into your favorite sampler, set to glide and then pitched down to create very unique bass growls!
I also enjoyed re-purposing the toaster oven timer as an alternative for a high hat – just popped into a sampler, added an arpeggiator to syncopate and bam! Fresh new sound with movement.
Download the samples and if you come up with anything interesting, be sure to hit up the TwistedTools peeps, as they’ll post cool creations.
3. Rankin Audio Subscription
High Rankin is a beast of a producer and engineer. He’s started a sample pack and software preset company – Rankin Audio – and simply makes it a lot easier to achieve a certain vibe or sound within production.
I highly recommend the genre-specific sample packs and presets for newer producers trying to get a grip on the basics of music production. For example, I find that you will be more productive and feel more encouraged to make music if it sounds good, and as a newer producer, you cannot be expected to be a sound designer. So having tools such as pre-existing bass sounds, musical loops and percussion sequences makes the experience fun and fast.
From my standpoint, as an experienced producer, I find myself resampling a lot of the bass notes and individual percussion sounds as needed, often blending genres to create something that I find to be new and pleasing. Be sure to like the Rankin Audio Facebook page as you can get a pretty big collection of samples for free. Be warned – the free sample pack contains a lot of MP3’s, which I hope you know are of inferior quality for production. Don’t be cheap – buy some samples! You’ll thank me later.
4. Fanu’s Analogue Bass sample pack
Finish producer Fanu is known for his deep, groovy basslines and drum choppage and now you can have a tiny slice of his audio arsenal.
Created using his Arturia Microbrute synthesizer, these bass heavy synthesizer sounds can be used for any genre if you’re creative enough – just pop into your favorite sampler, play a few notes and see what you come up with.
Fanu also provides mixing and mastering services – in fact he’s been doing the latest Signaflo releases and has mastered a couple of my bootlegs.
Be sure to check his blog for studio tips and more free stuff, including this great reese bass tutorial.
5. Rhythmlab’s Breakbeats Collection
Breakbeats – the life blood of the music I love. If you’re from Florida, breakbeats usually refer to “break” music, a rave style that once dominated Miami clubs. If you’re a hiphop head, you know the breakbeat is the chunk of drums that has that killer groove and is the foundation for the rest of the song, what the rapper raps to and how the bass bumps.
No matter what the meaning is to you, this collection of breaks cannot be beat! Sort of a pun intended with that statement, but the point is that there are just so many ill loops in this pack that I could probably use this for the next 10 years and not run out of ideas.
This is one of those packs where, yeah, you’ve already got quite a few of these breaks but these may end up replacing your existing collections. All of these are high quality WAV files, seemingly straight from vinyl or CD.
I challenge you to take different drums from different loops and try to combine them into something new! Sample a kick from one, a clap from another, pop ‘em into a sampler, bust out your controller and do your best J Dilla impression.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Rhythm-Lab website, there’s so much great content, much of it for free.