Back To Your Roots

If you’ve ever had writers block in the studio ( and lets face it who hasn’t?) or can’t finish a tune or other catastrophes then have a crack at getting back to your roots and sampling some shit. Now for some that might mean going down to the local $2 used record shop but for me that means chugging my way through the mountains of sample cd’s that I have on my HDD and in my CD wallets.

You see, even though you can write a tune with just some drums and some bass the reality is you is going to need some more sounds. Pads, FX, Swooshes, Vocals, Movie snippets are all required in your work. Ok, maybe not in all your work but you get the point. Anyways, like I made the point in an earlier post about drum n bass production.  Collect and prepare  all your samples first before you start arranging. This makes the arrangement part that much easier and mixing down the track will NOT be a living nightmare.

Anyways, to help me with this NOT so enjoyable task I’ve enlisted the help of Ableton Live and its brilliant audition/explorer window. (narrow strip down the left side)

Ableton Live











So, all I do is…

1. Set the BPM at 172-174

2. Import a break. (Probably one of mine)

3. Pick a sample folder

4. Start auditioning some sounds and dragging in the ones I like

5. Oh… I use the arrangement view, NOT clip view. (hit TAB button)

6. After I have finished with the folder I will Collect All and Save (file menu)

7. Delete folder

8. I have also worked out that if you “consolidate” all the samples you like you can find them

easily in the project folder for use later on.

9. Just save what ever sounds you like. FX, Bass, Drums or whatever. The idea is to just weed

out the crap samples from your HDD first.

What Generally Happens…

What I find usually  happens is I’ll quickly get some sort of groove/vibe going straight away. I’ll find a pad/atmos sound and then some stabs and then fx. (I suppose it depends on what sample cd I’m auditioning. ) I’ll lay out the samples in some of sort of arrangement that makes sense e.g. Swooshes at the end of bars, Hits at the beginning etc. Then if its a solid vibe I’ll save the project under a descriptive name e.g. Jungle vibe and move on. I’ll mute the parts and continue on finding samples.

This is a great way of working quickly and efficiently. Being able to work quickly as a producer is a skill that can not be underestimated. I’ve been searching for years for a work flow that could get me good results but still allow me flexibility.  Ableton has given me what I wanted and I’m a happy man indeed.

What About Me…

Ok, what if you don’t use Ableton Live? Well, I suppose you could use Media Bay in Cubase or the Add media in Logic. However, I just don’t see them as good. Don’t get me wrong they ARE good but just not as good as the one in Live. Also you could try using Kontakt Sampler and using the “next sample” feature which gives you the option of playing the samples but I’ve found that to be hit and miss.

What Next?

After I’ve gotten all my samples together its time to work out their pitches and weed out the samples that just don’t fit the track. Sometimes I’ll place a “holding Bass” groove in there to project to see how all the samples fit temporally and continue on with either finding more samples or doing a quick arrangement. Right now at the moment I’m NOT 100% on mixing down in Ableton Live but I’m giving it a go anyways. Its not perfect by any means but I’m willing to live with the restrictions.

So, I hope you get down and dirty and find or create some phat ass sounds to use in your projects. Also, if you haven’t tried Ableton Live yet give it a shot, it might work out for you and that ain’t not bad thing!

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