Like many topics in music production, ask the right person — or get cornered by the wrong person at a party — and the conversation could go on forever. Sampling is one such topic.
Sounds can pass on from one generation to inspire the next. Search one of your favourite iconic tunes on whosampled.com, and you’ll find its own ecosystem; a map of history of who is connected to it by a fleeting moment. I searched ‘Tony’s Theme’ from Scarface, by Giorgio Moroder and realised Mobb Deep and Kanye West had sampled it, which I also love.
There’s lots to say on the history and politics of sampling (DYOR). The purpose of this piece is to explain how you might use it. You’ll find comments throughout from my friend, the esteemed UK producer and DJ Etch, who I wanted to speak to for this piece because his sound is heavily informed by the “extremely crude changes in samples” found in UK hardcore. “Anything can work if you have the ear,” he says.
First of all, sound libraries such as Splice, Loopmasters or LANDR offer royalty-free samples, such as one-shot drum hits, which have been recorded to the highest quality. That way you know you have good raw material which is cleared to use; so you can focus on laying down a beat. There are multiple free sample packs available online too, and a steady increase in artists creating and selling their own packs for an added revenue stream. I saw a Phil Collins ‘inspired’ snare pack once, I’ve never added-to-basket quicker.