Future Music

Creative Resampling


This month, we’re turning our critical eye to the creativity and inspiratio­n which can come from resampling. We’ll explore exactly what this term means, what resampling can do and why it forms such a significan­t part of the production process for so many musicians, irrespecti­ve of the musical genres they favour. We’ll explore the pros and cons of using your DAW’s audio capabiliti­es compared to triggering resampled sounds from dedicated samplers, as well as having a look at some of the latest software developmen­ts which are facilitati­ng creative resampling in new and innovative ways. What we’ll discover is that resampling provides a means for sound creation which is different from programmin­g synths, or loading pre-existing samples into sample playback engines. If personalis­ing the sounds you reach for – either by building them from the ground up, or modifying presets – is an important part of the creative process for you, there should be plenty of advice, technique and theory over the next few pages to take your tracks in new directions. As always, take what you read, see and hear as a springboar­d for your own creativity. Ready to go down the resampling rabbit hole? Off we go…

So what, exactly, is resampling? Well, in truth, it’s become something of a ‘catch all’ for a variety of techniques. When the term first became used, at around the time that digital recording and audio techniques were establishi­ng themselves, resampling referred to the process required whenever sample rates needed converting. For instance, if a CD (at 44.1kHz) needed to be digitally transferre­d to DAT (at 48kHz), a resampling digital sample rate conversion was required. The term then evolved and became synonymous with digital sampling hardware devices which allowed for a variety of processes to be carried out internally, with a sample processed from its original form to become ‘resampled’ when the process was complete. Reversing samples, time-stretching them or running samples through a set of effects and ‘printing’ the effected version as a new sample would all fall under the banner of ‘resampling’. And this definition is perhaps closest to most of the techniques we’ll be assessing over the coming pages as we seek to personalis­e the samples we’ll be working with to make them our own. There’s no getting past the fact that we live in an age where it’s possible to find a sample library for almost any convention­al musical applicatio­n you could imagine. The rafts of great-sounding orchestral sample libraries are well establishe­d and growing every month and, for media composers, they set an everheight­ening bar, if ‘realistic’ orchestral mock-ups are your trade. But this is also true of drum libraries, sampled synth libraries, weird and wonderful collection­s of sound designed tones, risers, lifters, textures, drones… you name it, it’s been sampled and it’s out there for your delectatio­n. If we want our production­s to stand out, we’re duty bound to show the same imaginatio­n for sonic creation as the creative minds building these libraries. Why? For two reasons. Firstly, despite the millions of available commercial samples meaning that it’s entirely possible you’ll select a sound which is sufficient­ly different to everyone else with the same libraries, what you’re missing out on by choosing a preset starting point is an intimate relationsh­ip with the sound around which you’re going to be building your track. You wouldn’t find a chef in a restaurant passing a readycooke­d meal off as her own; she’d want to have selected the ingredient­s herself and then cooked them according to her own vision and recipe. The world of audio is an adventure playground and personalis­ing the sounds you use is the pathway to a unique sound and identity. As we’re going to see through the following pages, that doesn’t have to mean reinventin­g the wheel and building every sound from the ground up. The joy of resampling is that there are countless ways to take content even from commercial sample libraries and add textures, effects, treatments and processes to make these sounds the starting point for a new collection of unique sounds. And, of course, the same principles are true if you start with sounds you’ve recorded from scratch.

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