Aphex Twin has released a free “sample mashing” app called Samplebrain.
The open-source sound design software works by chopping samples up into a "brain" of interconnected snippets called 'blocks', which are "connected into a network by similarity". The app processes your sample by chopping it up into 'blocks' like this and attempting to match each block with one in the brain, allowing you to mash together a track in real-time using this source material. The idea is that you can interpret one sound with another using "tweakable parameters" like 'novelty' and 'boredom'.
A new post on Aphex Twin's Lanner Chronicle blog explains how the software, which was created with engineer Dave Griffiths, has been in the works for two decades and was originally inspired by Shazam.
"This idea came about a long time ago, not sure exactly when, 2002-ish, but when mp3s started to become a thing, when for the first time there were a ton of them sitting on my hard drive and the brilliant Shazam had recently launched," writes James. "Started thinking 'hmm all this music sitting there, maybe it can be used for something else other than just playing or DJing (hi Atomixmp3 & rudimentary max/msp patches).' I had originally contacted the founders of Shazam to discuss further creative uses of their genius idea but they were busy making an automatic DJ programme."
He continues: "I still think Shazam could be re-purposed for something incredible but in the meantime we have Samplebrain. What if you could reconstruct source audio from a selection of other mp3s/audio on your computer? What if you could build a 303 riff from only acapellas or bubbling mud sounds? What if you could sing a silly tune and rebuild it from classical music files? You can do this with Samplebrain."