Sampling techniques for a manageable set

Follow our step-by-step guide to get a better handle on your live arrangements.

You can cut your original productions into chunks and play everything back as loops – but why not take it a little further for some of the parts and resample a few notes, so you can play them back live? Follow our step-by-step guide to get a better handle on your live arrangements.

Sampling technique for a manageable set: step-by-step

Sampling technique for a manageable set

1. There are so many variables with these techniques, we can’t cover everything, but this’ll give you some ideas, especially if your performance machine is different from what you use in the studio. If you’re using Ableton Live, it’s easy to get a performance-ready instrument based on your studio sounds.

Sampling technique for a manageable set

2. For hardware synths, just record a long note from the synth into a Live clip and crop it to a suitable length. For software synths, program a corresponding MIDI clip, then use Live’s Freeze/Flatten commands to turn that into an audio clip. You probably won’t need to warp these.

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Sampling technique for a manageable set

3. Load Simpler into a MIDI track, then drag your sample into Simpler’s drop area. Arm and play your MIDI keyboard, and you’ll be able to play that sound over the full range of MIDI notes. It’s not like having the real instrument, but it can be good enough for live.

Sampling technique for a manageable set

4. Synth sounds can be complex, evolving things, so you’ll probably have to develop this further, perhaps using instrument racks and audio or MIDI effects to create more layered sounds. Use Simpler’s ADSR controls to further modify the sample’s behaviour and edit the Voice setting so it matches the source instrument.

Sampling technique for a manageable set

5. Akai hardware, including the MPC Live and Force, has a handy feature called Auto Sampling, which will capture audio from an internal instrument, or an external source such as a hardware synthesiser and immediately make it available as a playable instrument, from pads or an external MIDI keyboard.

Sampling technique for a manageable set

6. In Akai talk, this kind of sample-based instrument is known as a ‘keygroup’ and they are very useful. The trick is that as much of the preparation as possible is done in advance, so the recorded sample is formatted and organised from the get-go.

Sampling technique for a manageable set

7. Before recording, you can set the range of notes that’ll be recorded, how the new layers will respond to MIDI velocity, the length of recorded notes and even configure a ‘tail’ for when you’re recording instruments with reverb- or delay-type decaying trails at the end of the sound.

Sampling technique for a manageable set

8. A keygroup can feature up to four effects, included as part of the preset when you save it for future use. Keygroups can also access the send effects in your project, and are infinitely editable – you can go back any time and add more samples, edit the parameters, and so on.

Before going live, make sure to read our tips on the do’s and don’ts of performing.

For more workshops and tutorials, check here.

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