Needless to say, you first need to find a sample to work with. There are many places to find samples, ranging from sample packs to one shot libraries.
If you’re just honing and practicing yourproduction skills, you can use almost any track. But keep in mind that if you’re planning to release or share your music, you’ll need to clear the sample(s). That might sound tedious because you came here to make and sample music. You can bypass the paperwork and hassle by scouring your samples from Tracklib. That way, you can easily clear the sample(s). Standardized licensing on Tracklib covers everything you need to officially release your music on streaming platforms and even physical formats.
How to find a royalty-free sample
There are tracks available online to sample for free, but these are of course of lesser quality than studio recordings and officially released music. Some sites have royalty-free collections you can use free of charge, but you’re unlikely to find any recognizable songs to play with. There is also public domain music that can be sampled freely and legally, but as most of this was recorded in the 1920s, this might not exactly be the fresh sounds you’re looking for, to say the least…
Finally, artists or producers—especially lesser-known ones—may be willing to let you sample their music, as that can only mean more exposure for them. However, you’ll need to get in touch with them and secure the relevant legal permissions before uploading or distributing the song, remix, or sampled works.
Wherever you get your sample, you need to have it downloaded onto your computer in an appropriate format. WAV audio files are the best quality, but an MP3 can also suffice. Drag it into Logic, and it’s time to get started with the sampling.
Now the audio is in place, we most likely want to make a loop to form the basis of our new track. If you don’t want to do this—for example, if you just want to use one-shots from your sample, chop up the sample, or leave a big section of the record untouched—you can skip to the next section.
If you don’t know it already, you need to find the tempo (the BPM: beats per minute) of the sample. Simply double-click the audio region for your sample in the main Tracks window, and then click on Smart Tempo. Click ‘Analyze’, and Logic will work this out for you.
Here’s a video showing you how to do this in more depth:
As many real records are recorded without using a click, they’re not perfectly metronomic. While this can add musical depth and emotion, that presents a challenge to the producer trying to flip the sample. To get around these time fluctuations, you need to enable Flex Time, which is similarly called elastic audio in other applications.
For a real record, ensure the flex mode on the audio track is set to ‘Polyphonic’. Logic will then analyze the sample and map out the beats—or transients—and mark them out with dotted lines. With this on display, we can make the selection for our loop. You’ll most likely want to use 4, 8, or 16 bars for your selection.
Once you’ve sliced the loop, you can delete the other sections of audio. Now we need to adjust the tempo of the sample so it fits our project. With Polyphonic Flex Time still enabled, all you need to click and drag from the top right of the audio region (when the Stretch icon appears) and move it across the timeline. Make sure that the number of beats and/or bars in your sample matches the number in your project.
Now that’s finished, it’s time to turn off Flex Mode, and choose a tool to customize and manipulate our sample with.
In Logic Pro, there are three approaches that we recommend:
The first is to use Logic Pro’s Sampler, which comes pre-installed with version 10.5. This plugin received a huge update in 2020. It used to be called the EXS24, and is now a powerful sampling tool that does everything you could imagine, with a beautiful and iconic interface. Mainly used for mapping out many different sounds across the range of the keyboard—for example, an entire drum kit. It can be used to chop up a track into different sections, and precisely adapt each part so it sounds exactly the way you want it to.
You can simply drag your sample into the Navigation Bar (the top part of the Sampler plugin), and the instrument will intelligently analyze the sample and automatically map out the zones.
The Sampler is a great choice if you want to sample multiple tracks from just one instrument. Simply create a new instrument track, and load the Sampler to get started.
Also new in version 10.5 is Logic Pro’s Quick Sampler: a slimmed-down version of the Sampler, which is best when you’re working with only one sample. Simply drag your track into the Navigation Bar. The Quick Sampler gives you two options: Original or Optimized. With Original, the tuning, loudness, and length of the sample will stay the same. With Optimized, the instrument will automatically set the tuning, loudness, length, and loop points of the sample. Check out this video from Splice for more information on how to use the Quick Sampler:
Simply create a new instrument track, and load the Quick Sampler to get started.
You may not need to use a sampling instrument at all, Many producers flip samples just by manually chopping up and processing the audio file of a track, without first feeding it into a software sampler. This is especially useful if you want to keep longer sections of the record intact.
Now let’s go into more technical detail. For this, let’s stick to the Quick Sampler, as—you guessed it—that’s a really quick and easy way to get started with creative sampling.
For this method, drag your sample into the Quick Sampler using the Original option. Once that’s done, there are three different sample modes to choose from: Classic, One Shot, and Slice.
In Classic sample mode, the instrument plays your sample as long as a key on your keyboard is pressed continuously. The moment you lift the key, the sampler stops. This is also true for MIDI notes: when the note ends, the sample ends with it.
In One Shot sample mode, a MIDI note or the press of a key (no matter how long or short) triggers the playing of the entire sample. You can edit the sample to your taste, but it won’t be affected by differences in your MIDI regions or playing.
If you choose Slice mode, the Quick Sampler will analyze your sample and divide it into sections, with each section being assigned to a different note on the keyboard. By default, the slices are made between transients. You can change this to beats by clicking the Mode dropdown menu to select Beat Divisions.
Logic is usually very good at deciding the best place to make the slices. If you want to adjust them, you can adjust the Division knob, or by dragging the slice points manually.
Get the most out of slices in Logic Pro’s Quick Sampler
There are a few global settings you should change to get the most out of the slices. These are found in the Amp section of the Quick Sampler. Firstly, change the Polyphony setting to Mono. This ensures that the instrument only plays a single sample at a time.
If the samples seem a little quiet, you can increase the volume within the instrument itself by turning up the Volume knob. You may also wish to soften the transition between samples by slightly increasing the Attack value in the Amp section. Though, of course, you may prefer your slices to be punchy. Go with whatever fits your creative idea best.
If you want to change the key of your sample, you can easily do this within the Quick Sampler. Simply adjust the Coarse knob within the Pitch section to move the key of the sample up or down.
You will notice, however, that the tempo speeds up as the pitch is increased, and slows down as it's decreased. To keep it the same, all you have to do is turn on Flex Time—this time within the Quick Sampler itself—and ensure that Follow Tempo is also enabled.
Now you’re all set in the Quick Sampler with all slices mapped out to different notes, it’s time to get creative—start making some music! This is where the magic really happens.
The first step is to make a new MIDI region on the track with the instrument loaded onto it. Then double-click the region to edit using the Piano Roll, or press Command 4 to open the Piano Roll editor in a new window.
Now you’ll be able to see how each slice has been allocated to a particular pitch or piano key. You can hear each individual slice—even without a MIDI keyboard or controller—simply by clicking the onscreen piano keys that have labels next to them.
You can either record notes into the region with a MIDI device or write them in manually. To do the latter, simply control-click on the Piano Roll to create a note.
Depending on what kind of sample you have used, you might be able to create new melodic phrases or completely reinvent the beat.
Experiment with different patterns and settings until you come up with something you like. Then, you can move on to fleshing out your track by adding additional drums and instruments. That’s a walkthrough for another time.
As this feature shows, Logic Pro is an incredible tool that makes sampling easy. You can use the Sampler, Quick Sampler, or manual methods to put your own spin on a classic, and give music a new lease of life. Now we’ve shown you the steps you need to take to start sampling, we hope you’re feeling creative. The only limit is your imagination!
If you’re still in need of inspiration, be sure to check out the Hottest Flips series which explores how the very best producers incorporate samples into their tracks.
Now we want to hear from you. What’s your favorite way to flip a sample? Drop a comment below, or join the official Tracklib Community on Discord to discuss music production with fellow producers and sample heads.
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