A guide to how Paul, Christian & Stanley went from making samples in their bedrooms to making samples for the world! Christian supervises a tracking session for a Chinese “moon guitar” and takes you through his principles of post production.
To obtain your free copy of this library, go here.
Many people agree that what you need to write to picture is a computer, a keyboard controller, an audio interface, some speakers and a DAW (digital audio workstation, i.e. Logic, Cubase, Reaper, Pro Tools, Ableton, GarageBand). Many would also argue that depending on your neighbours or housemates, a pair of headphones could come in handy. But the next step is divided with many suggesting: “some sounds” or “a sample library”. However, I feel (somewhat suicidally - for a sample developer!) that the next must-have item is a microphone, to ensure you can make sounds of your very own before you use any others. I hope my film above demonstrates some very basic principals of creating a basic virtual instrument that I have annotated below.
The magic of sampling enables us all to play or imitate instruments we have little understanding or even ability to play. Whether it be slavishly multi sampling an instrument into its ‘virtual’ form, or indeed conjuring up a totally new alien incarnation - say by pinging some wine glasses and tuning them down two octaves - sampling is an un-sung creative force within modern music making. When people ask me what you need to aim for as a young composer I always reply with the same answer “create your own voice, and be daring with it”. You often hear of people reining stuff in, of coming from the left field, but rarely reining stuff out, or coming out of centre field! So start with a wide aperture.
First of all get* a half decent mic, and sample something in your house or studio. If there’s nothing to sample (although there is, start by popping your cheek!), head down to your local charity store, or if you’re rich, folk music instrument stockist. Pick up something you can’t play and have a go at sampling it, because once you’ve done this, you will immediately own an instrument no one else on the planet does.
There have been (and still are sometimes) rules to sampling. However, Paul and I have never really subscribed to them. Surely to make the best samples you must apply EXACTLY the same rules to recording and producing music, not some newly acquired laboratory technique. So we select our players according to their spirit and personality, as you would any musician for any recording. We select microphones and signal paths according to established best practice (and our particular sonic aesthetic) and during the sessions we work hard to coerce the most spirited and unique performance out of the player. Even if the poor sod is having to play one note at a time!
Contrary to a lot of common practice with sampling, we aim for the opposite of consistency (particularly when we’re making little ‘personal gems’ as we’re doing here in this video). Of all the rules here, just getting your player to play as randomly as humanly possible would be uppermost.
Other than that, here is a quick summary of our recommended best practice:
TWEAKING AND SPLOSH
*When we say ‘get’ this doesn’t mean buy, or rob a bank for, or take a loan out for. The process of making music can be a linear and structured one. If you’re planning on making a set of instruments, samples, a palette of sounds for a project, set time aside to do just that. Borrow the mic, the mic-pre, the instruments. Don’t worry about building a mic cupboard just yet, we work in the box, don’t let a box of mics bankrupt you, only to sit in their box gathering dust.