All posts tagged “Sampling”
When you come across a video where someone samples percussion and snoring (!) together with an older gentleman covered in tattoos, it’s hard not to be curious. Therefore we had a quick chat with New York-based mad audio experimentalist Hot Sugar to find out more about his approach to music production.
Your music is full of unique sounds, could you tell us a bit about how you create them?
I record a lot of sounds on portable recorders then import them to the NN-XT to make patches. I make everything from basses to keys or sustained organ type patches. I’ll compose a melody and add instrumentation surrounding it. After that I import drum samples i’ve recorded into Redrum or Kong and make a beat to accompany the riffs I created. Between the drum machines and the samplers you can make a whole song.
My favorite patches are the ones I’ve made using recordings I couldn’t hear at the time (usually because they were too quiet or even silent). Just because we don’t hear something doesn’t mean there isn’t a sound, tone or texture to present. I love recording “silence” and cranking up the volume afterwards to hear the intricacies our ears cant. I’ve made number of patches from roomtones that at first seemed silent but once distorted and compressed sounded like eerie whistles or even basses. I usually throw them into the NN-XT too.
When I travel to a place I haven’t been to before I turn on my recorder and capture it (whether a new place a couple blocks from my apartment or another country entirely). Sometimes I like to scroll through my folders of recordings and press play without reading the filename. Some are recognizable but most are confusing and disorienting. I try to picture the spot and by then my imagination gets the best of me. Once I’m lost in that world I can hear other melodies and things going on so the songs start writing themselves.
Any Words of Wisdom for aspiring producers and musicians?
There are plenty of stock sounds offered by a program like Reason but there are an infinite number of other ones outside that are just waiting to be recorded and brought back to your computer. The sounds that come with the program are incredibly impressive but the real gift Reason offers is the ability to transform whatever you want on your own.
Yours truly is old enough to have been around when digital samplers first arrived. Admittedly I never touched a Fairlight or an Emulator back when they were fresh from the factory – those products were way out of a teenager’s league – but I distinctly remember the first time I laid hands on an S612, Akai’s first sampler. Its modest 128 kB RAM could hold a single 1-second sample at maximum quality (32 kHz) – but none the less it was pure magic to be able to record something with a mic and instantly trigger it from the keyboard. I spotted that particular Akai sampler hooked up in my local music store, and tried it out by sampling myself strumming a chord on a Spanish guitar. My first sample…!
As the years went by, I gradually became spoiled like everyone else; there were tons of high quality sample libraries available on floppies, and soon enough the market was swamped with dedicated sample playback instruments such as the S1000PB, the E-mu Proteus, the Korg M1 and the Roland U-series to name but a few. This trend carried over into software instruments; manufacturers and others kept sampling like crazy for us so it seemed more or less superfluous to do it yourself. Propellerhead was no exception – with no sampling facilities and no hard disk recording, Reason remained a playback device for canned samples for almost 10 years – but in Reason 5 and Record 1.5, they got around to adding a sampling feature. In typical Propellerhead fashion, don’t do it unless it’s done right. The trick to doing it right was to bring back the simplicity and instant gratification of those early samplers – just plug in a source, hit the sample button, perform a quick truncate-and-normalize in the editor, and start jamming away.
This time around the keyword is Productivity – we’re going to learn how to work the NN-XT at warp speed, streamlining the workflow, boosting the power. If you’ve only scratched the surface before, here is an invitation to dig deeper.
The NN-XT is more than a big brother to NN19; it is by far the most advanced, capable, adaptive and deep Reason workhorse. When Propellerhead got around to creating Reason’s flagship sampler, they got a chance to once and for all tackle their main gripe with hardware samplers – the lack of a fast and intuitive interface. With their invariably tiny LCD displays, awkward menu systems, keypad parameter editing and absence of a qwerty keyboard (meaning you had to painstakingly enter sample names like you enter high score initials on an arcade game), most hardware samplers suffered from a bottleneck syndrome in the user interface department – it took aeons to program them.
NN-XT became the opposite – with tons of rotary dials for swift parameter access, a generous display and super-fast macro functions like pitch detection and automapping, NN-XT lets you do in a coffee break what used to take a weekend. Now, let’s have a slice of that pie…