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6 easy and creative ways of manipulating samples

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To conclude this short series about sampling, today I will talk about some useful techniques for manipulating samples creatively. After all, slicing and dicing them up can not possibly be the only thing we of can do!
Here is my short list of 7 my favourite techniques for manipulating samples!

1. Timestretching

Let’s take a nice chord progression, or melody. When looking to make excellent ambient backdrops for the melodies of my songs, or for dense pad sounds, what I like doing is slowing the sample down as much as possible, and see what happens. Melodies slow down into beautiful almost string like sounds. What you can do afterwards, is re-sample the time stretched parts, and see if you can cut them up further, to make even more combinations!

2. Filtering

Using a high or low pass filter on a sample can be useful for many reasons. I use filters to get rid of unwanted sounds from the sample. Sometimes you’ll have some percussion or other instruments that you simply can’t get rid of by cutting around them. Use a filter to remove their frequencies from the sample, or to at least mute them. Apply a few different filters to completely change the nature of the sound!

3. Delay and reverb effects

I think it won’t take you long to realize that I’m obsessed with those tasty tasty ambient sounds. I apply reverb and delay to almost everything in gratuitous amounts. However, for you non-addicts, delay and reverb are great to make your drum beats sound like they are evolving around themselves. It’s cool stuff.

4. Glitch!

I learned how to do this by watching one of Tom Cosm’s excellent tutorial videos. It was meant for Ableton, however the principle that applies is the same for any of the DAW’s. Basically, lets say you have your sample sequence already put together. You really want something extra from it to make it sound CRAZY. Not crazy, but CRAZY. What you can do is create a few various versions of the sequence, by applying different effects to each. Then either by slicing those, or by muting the tracks they’re on, arrange them so that at any given time, only part of one of those is playing, and that they switch rapidly. You can achieve some really twisted textures this way!

5. Tiny Slices

I’m not quite sure if there is a proper name for what I’m about to describe here. I apply this mainly to chord samples, however, I suppose you could do this to any single sound. Looking at the soundwave of the sample (lets say that we are talking about a chord), cut it into a few slices. Make sure that they’re even. Now, you’ll notice that because of the way the chord resonates, the various samples will have different waveforms. Now rearrange them as you please! The sound should still be vaguely the same, but often you can get a different feel to it. I think its a rather subtle effect, so it might take some experimenting. For extra goodness, add some cross fading between the slices of the sample, and perhaps superimpose them over each other. See if you can come up with something awesome that way!

6. Mix and match!

Last but not least, possibly the most obvious of all tips. Use all of them! Use more than one! Try out various things by experimenting and see what works. Some fun combinations are low pass filter + gratuitous amount of reverb + grain delay, delay and beat repeat and more delay, the tiny slices technique + delay (separate the slices of the sample slightly to get even cooler sounds). Really, there are no limits to what you can do. I suggest trying it all.


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