RipX DAW for Sampling – Part One

How & Why Sampling Began

For over 50 years, sampling has been one of the most influential and inspiring musical tools and techniques, allowing producers and listeners to connect with the history of music, re-presenting familiar sounds in new ways, becoming part of an ever-evolving musical tapestry. 

The influence of sampling on modern music can never be underestimated, although the road towards releasing a record featuring a sample or collection of samples was (and can still be) a rocky one. Originating in its modern form in the 1970s, sampling quickly developed as an initial, experimental backlash to major labels who originally interpreted it as theft. However, for those wanting to make music but who didn’t want (or couldn’t afford) to learn instruments or music theory, it helped bridge that gap and paved the way for the abundant remix culture we are currently immersed in today. 

Retrospectively over the years, the creative use of samples has mostly allowed creatives to add new dimensions and complexity to their music, resulting in a diverse range of sounds and styles that we get to enjoy everyday – whether on the radio, vinyl, DSPs or streaming sites. 

Another key thing to remember is that citation and imitation has always led to musical evolution: jazz was influenced by the traditional music of USA’s immigrant populations (and more); soul and rhythm & blues were influenced by both jazz and gospel music; funk was influenced by soul, rhythm & blues and jazz; rock was influenced by rhythm & blues; disco was influenced by soul and funk. Hip hop was influenced by funk, rock, soul, jazz, disco and eventually ALL music. And so the cycle continues with today’s electronic music sub-genric cross-breeds.

But while occasionally samples can be used in poor taste or aren’t utilized to the best of their ability, most of these complaints are subjective in the eyes of the artist or producer creating them and their audience. Commonly sampled elements include strings, basslines, drum loops, vocal hooks or entire bars of music, especially from soul records. Samples may be layered, equalized, sped up or slowed down, repitched, looped or otherwise manipulated in almost any way imaginable. As sampling technology has improved, the possibilities for manipulation have grown. Instead of sampling a recording, artists may recreate a song, or even use a process known as interpolation.

The Evolution Of Sampling In Live And Recorded Music

Although sampling can be traced back to the Dadaist movement of the 1920s, and Pierre Schaffer’s musique concrète in the 1940s, as well as music and field recordings appearing in experimental compositions by composers such as John Cage, it was the introduction of keyboard instruments that played sounds recorded on tape, such as the Mellotron that really helped it grow as an artform. Sections of recorded sound were repurposed and used for different music recordings and, as technology progressed, this experimentation became easier and more affordable, with hip-hop introducing the creation of more modern sampling, leading to a complete shift in popular music production techniques.

In the 1960s, Jamaican reggae producers such as King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry (produced by legendary producers such as Adrian Sherwood) began using recordings of reggae rhythms to produce riddim tracks, which were then deejayed over. 

These Jamaican immigrants then introduced the techniques to those who ran turntablism events in the early 70s at hip-hop parties in the Bronx, where ‘rebel music’ DJs like Kool Herc would spin funk and soul records, while MCs rapped over sections of these records, purely as a live artform at the time. 

However, before hip hop DJs started utilizing breaks from records, there was even a comedy record producer named Dickie Goodman who specialized in taking quotes from top 40 chart hits and splicing them into comedy bits he wrote.

But the official sampling term was more officially coined later in the late 1970s after ‘He’s Gonna Step on You Again’, the 1971 song by South African musician John Kongos, which used a sample of a recorded African drumming track. 

However, the producer largely credited with introducing sampling in hip hop was the pioneering Marley Marl who started off by just taking drum one-shot hits from breakbeats (most famously ‘Impeach the President’ by the Honeydrippers) and reprogramming them, before branching out into sampling stabs and entire music sections.

But how is sampling different to other musical art forms such as remixing, cover song creation or interpolation? Well – a sample is an extracted part of an existing song, recontextualized for a new recording such as a breakbeat, with a view to creating an original track with the help of existing material.

On the other hand, a remix is a new version of a song after editing and building on the original multitracks or stems, making an entirely new version by adding to, removing, and/or changing those multi-tracks or stems.

It’s debatable and dependant on the context, but you could argue that sampling utilizes more originality as it involves creating a completely new song, whereas a remix uses more of the previous song to only create a new version.

A cover version or cover song is a reproduction of an existing song where only the performance is changed. On the other hand, an interpolation reframes part of an existing song, re-recording it inside a new song.

To Sample Or Not to Sample?

It is important to remember that you must always get permission for sample usage from the copyright owners, who might include the original artists, writers and publishers. Music is protected by copyright law, so reusing any snippet or entire piece of music needs to be cleared and licensed. You should also educate yourself on how to copyright a song to ensure that your own releases are protected from unauthorized use if someone else decides to sample you without asking.

So before proceeding with releasing tracks containing any kind of sample, always do your due diligence to make sure you know the law regarding sampling in your respective country.

Alternatively, take a more cautious approach and use royalty-free music and sounds. These sounds are usually found in today’s endless myriad of online sample packs and don’t require royalty payments to the person who created them. Also, a lot of DAWs come included with a variety of royalty-free samples and loops for you to use however you want.

If you are going to sample full songs, it would be sensible to look for music that has a Creative Commons or other license that allows for use in commercial recordings.

The Chamberlin is noted as the first sampler, developed by Englishman Harry Chamberlin in the 1940s. It utilized a keyboard to trigger a series of tape decks, each containing eight seconds of sound.

The Beatles, using pre-recorded samples from the Mellotron on Strawberry Fields in the 1960s came next, and the 1970s saw the Fairlight CMI used by Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush – a synthesizer with the ability to record and playback short sounds. 

The Fairlight was the coolest and most hyped piece of music technology for years, but its high price tag meant that it was also very exclusive to a lucky few. However, compared to later samplers, the Fairlight was limited; it allowed control over pitch and envelope, but could only record a few seconds of sound. 

n the 1980s, artists like Dr Dre, Beastie Boys and Pete Rock started using samplers like the Akai S950, E-Mu, Emulator 1 and 2, Ensoniq Mirage, and drum machines incorporating samples such as the Oberheim DMX and Linn LM-1 as well as Roland’s 808 which was heard sequenced behind lots of sampled hip hop and electro records at the time. 

But these early samplers continued to be high cost and often only offered limited sample time, in many cases, 2-4 measures which led to many creative limitations, heard in much of the short, loop-based music of the time.

However – in 1986, Emu released their now classic SP12 sampler which was one of the first affordable samplers used by a generation wanting to sample drum machines and breakbeats lifted from vinyl. Samples such as the Amen break, the “Funky Drummer” drum break and the orchestra hit were used in thousands of recordings, and James Brown, Loleatta Holloway, Fab Five Freddy and Led Zeppelin became the most sampled artists. 

Layering melodic samples from different records on top of each other to create more textural soundscapes and melodic passages also started to become commonplace.

In 1988, Akai released the first MPC sampler, which allowed users to assign samples to pads and trigger them independently, in similar ways  to playing a keyboard or drum kit. The Mirage was introduced previously and although a landmark product at an affordable price, the sound quality wasn’t great and it wasn’t fast to use, with just a two-digit display. It also had a limited sampling memory of just 144K! Akai’s, on the other hand, offered much higher-quality sampling and longer sampling times. 

It was followed in the 1990’s by competing samplers from companies such as Korg, Roland and Casio, the introduction of MIDI controllers such as the Akai APC, Native Instrument’s Maschine, Ableton Push, loopers and a plethora of new DAWs. Software plugins flooded the market with unlimited sampling times, giving even more motivation with the ease and cheapness of using sampled beats further bolstering remix culture with sampling becoming a central workflow in most production techniques.

This was a time when sampling broadened its wings and led to an explosion of hip hop artists worldwide and many other artists and producers from new sub-genres such as house music, techno, hardcore, drum and bass, breakbeat with Fatboy Slim being a major figure, down-tempo, broken beat, UK Garage and even pop music – all of whom often sampled jazz records and any discoverable records from any genre containing interesting melodies, sounds and rhythms worth experimenting with, combining and processing them in interesting new ways. J Dilla was praised for his unique beat and sample programming and the first album created entirely from samples, Endtroducing by DJ Shadow, was also released in 1996.

Also in the 1990s, sample packs had a major influence on contemporary music and in the 2010s, producers began releasing sample packs on online sample-licensing platforms such as Splice, Loopcloud, Noiiz, Tracklib and others.

But with the advancements in technology and the advent of affordable sampling programmes on home computers and laptops, sampling today is now more popular than ever. Affordable home recording also means that the interactions between live musicians and sampled tracks is at an all-time high. 

AI Music Sampling

Audio separation, stem separation software and AI music technology has revolutionized sampling further and AI DAW’s such as RipX DAW even offer stem separation sampling, enabling users to sample, customize, clean-up, transform, rearrange and re-play melodic ideas directly recorded on their computer or in an AI Music Generator to form the basis of new songs, or to add elements to existing ones – offering truly holistic AI music production workflows. Today’s sampling possibilities now really are endless!

Sampling Using RipX DAW

Download Free Trial
Create stems from any sample or song, then detect and view the key and tempo
Change the pitch and key of monophonic and polyphonic samples, even randomise them
Change the tempo and group, slice, chop, reverse, re-order and time-stretch samples from multiple rips to transform them into something new
Extract sounds as samples from any ripped song by right clicking a note, saving it to the Sound Panel and transforming or blending it with existing sounds using the slider
Export stems and create MIDI files from any instrument part
Sample and improve upon the results of AI Music Generators

When it comes to RipX DAW, sampling is obviously only one use case but is symbiotic with both AI (sampling AI Music) and Education (deconstructing parts to learn them/use them in other musical contexts appropriately). Find out more about how you can use RipX DAW to learn parts to any song HERE.

By upgrading to RipX DAW PRO, you are also able to further clean-up and transform your samples. Part Two with more sampling tips and tricks using RipX DAW coming soon…

Download Free RipX DAW Trial Learn About RipX DAW Learn About RipX DAW PRO

Disclaimer: Screenshots are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to be indicative of recommended or authorized use.

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