How to Hide Your Music Samples in Plain Sight

  1. Fade


    Beat Scientist
    Aug 18, 2015

    The Hip Hop beats that we all hear today are nowhere near as influential as the beats of yesteryear, and for one good reason - the music industry's greed. I could go on about the industry and how producers and musicians are not able to express themselves freely as they once did.

    For Hip Hop producers, this is especially true because the main thing that makes up a Hip Hop track is sampling. Now we have legal teams and laws that are constantly cracking down on music that is created with samples that are not legally "cleared".

    On one hand I completely understand. If someone were to sample one of my songs without seeking permission or even paying me, I would not be happy. On the other hand, where do you draw the line? I wrote an article a few years ago about how it seems that certain samples are off limits and others not, why?

    For example, I have tons of drum kits and drum breaks in my collection that I regularly use when I'm making beats. A lot of them are from the same tracks but have been tweaked to sound a bit different, and some are just straight up samples. But here's the issue - how come I can sample the snare from Audio Two's "Top Billin'" (which everyone knows) and yet there are no repercussions? However, if I were to sample a line from the vocals, I could possibly have lawyers knocking on my door.

    This is why it's important to hide your music samples, and you can even do so in plain sight. Here's how.

    Hide Your Music Samples

    I know of a lot of producers and beatmakers that sample a song and chop up the sample then replay it to fit their beat. That's great but you don't need to recreate the original composition. Instead, why not just use a few notes from the sample? Obviously this doesn't work with all samples because some are easily recognizable and others not so much. If you have a piano loop that you want to use, that's even easier because all you have to do is break up the piano into individual notes and use them as needed.

    You can use the samples in their original form or mess with them just a bit like pitching them up or down, applying a bit of EQ, or running them through some sort of effects filter. But for whichever method you choose, the best way is to just use a few of the notes and blend them in with the rest of your beat.

    Just yesterday I made a beat that was made up of:
    • Drums
    • Bass
    • Rhodes
    • Piano
    The drums are from a drum kit, the bass is a sub bass from my collection, the rhodes are from another kit, and the piano as well. But here's how I did it:

    Drums: This is straightforward; I just created a loop.
    Bass: Same as drums.
    Rhodes: This is a bit different. What I had was a Rhodes loop but I only took one tiny part of it and pitched it down, then I played a melody with it. It might be recognizable, but there's no way anyone can tell the original source. Even then, it's a Rhodes and it's only a small note. I could argue that I got it from a real Rhodes keyboard.
    Piano: I love how this one turned out. It's a loop but I chopped it into four parts and I simply played each part very softly in the background to blend in with the rest of the beat. They're not individual piano notes but almost. Again, I could argue that I played the melody from a real piano.

    The main thing to take away from this, is that when sampling, it's best to cut up your samples into individual notes. Too many producers will take the sample as is and just loop it. Those beats sound great of course, but they're too easy to recognize, and that's what you're trying to avoid.

    I would like to know what you do when you sample and how you try to hide samples. What is your best technique? Leave your comments below.

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    Last edited: May 2, 2017
    wizard, A.R. DASUPASTAR and Calamity like this.
  2. KDVS
    First, I'm diggin that "Chill Nod" tune, would like to hear more... I rearly sample anymore, but when i do i try to mix it up as much as possible, i try to play the chops "crazy" from what it was, but still try to not get to big of a difference in the sounds (chords). It depends off course what i want, haha, but yeah. Sampling is hard as fu#$.
    A.R. DASUPASTAR, Calamity and Fade like this.
  3. Pug
    I rarely hide my samples. I cut them sometimes, pitch them, EQ, whatever, but I never go out of the way to hide them. If I can't make the sample sound better than the original, I usually leave it as close to the original as possible. It's just my way of doing things, but I know that if I was selling records, then that would probably change, or just have to dig deeper for more obscure shit.
  4. Fade
    Thanks! Appreciate it.
    Yes, I noticed that but if it sounds good then go with it.
    A.R. DASUPASTAR likes this.
  5. River Cruz
    What up Fade,

    First off, loving the vibe on the track, super laid back...The way I use the sample depends on what exactly I'm sampling. With piano samples, unless it sounds crazyyyy by itself (rare) i chop them into individual notes and play around to get the vibe that I'm going for. with horns i chop up specific half a second progressions and mess around with them and with loops that I'm digging a lot i chop wherever it sounds dope and play to get something that sounds dope but has that sampled feel, then once i have that i add effect on certain chops or the whole group itself. then i continue to chop other records and add those chops here and there until I can honestly say "yea that's sounds perfect" which sometimes takes awhile lmao of course other times its a matter of 30 minutes lol
    A.R. DASUPASTAR and wizard like this.
  6. Beautiful Noise
    Fade, thanks for this article. The biggest challenge with sample based beat making is how to flip a sample to be dope and hard to recognize. I remember when I sent you this beat for ATB, and you said it was a little annoying:

    Believe it or not, it's from the soundtrack of a very popular movie. I remember hearing the original piece, and when I was in the mood to flip it, I came up with this beat. Yeah, it may be annoying to listen to because of the way I arranged the sample, but I guarantee that by the time the "sample police" figured out where I got it, I will have already made a transaction with an artist who likes it or it may just circulate as a compilation beat.

    Sampling isn't as tough as some beat makers say it is...what's tough is flipping a sample to be unrecognizable. Believe me, I have samples in my arsenal that I could loop all day and be on every radar from here to Russia. My challenge in this season is flipping those samples right and not losing my Beautiful Noise sound. PEACE!
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
    A.R. DASUPASTAR, wizard and Fade like this.
  7. Fade
    That's the hard part though, to make it sounds nice as well. It's great though that you were able to hide the piano. I sort of relate it to the way some deejays will mix an acapella with some instrumental. Even though they match up perfectly, it doesn't mean it sounds good.
    wizard likes this.
  8. Part2
    When I'm sampling (which is 99 percent of the time), I normally go for obscure samples that have different sounds in them. Anything from a Harpsichord to a saxophone...and when I find my sounds, I normally arrange them in a way where you would think it was a one-shot or snippets taken from different records. If I'm sampling, lets say, a piano or organ, I'll snatch a loop out of the sample and chop it up into as many parts as possible that my ear catches, and just re-arrange it so that it not only sounds good, but almost as if it was played like that in the original. I think a lot of it also has to do with the samples you choose too. A dope sample selection is key!!!
    A.R. DASUPASTAR, wizard and Fade like this.
  9. King Drew Xlll
    I rarely sample anymore due to all the reasons you mentioned lol, unless I come across a sample I cant live without but then I do my best to chop it down to individual notes so I can rearrange them how I like and play whichever piece out specially I want. Dope article @Fade
    wizard likes this.
  10. Fade
    That's the thing I find too. I love sampling but if I'm making something without samples then I know no matter what that I don't have to worry.
    wizard likes this.
    When sampling, I like to create individual chops and create my own melody. I take each note and I EQ it for mixing purposes and I raise or lower the pitch depending on the sound.
    wizard and Fade like this.
  12. wizard
    that track is my jam!! we use to rock that b-ball games! lol
    Great advice and tips. I do pretty much the same chop it up sometime depending on the artist ill grab a loop of the song.
    If the sample has drums in it i chop it based on the drums, like kick snare and ect or if they are really heavy i will filter them out.

    Thank you!

    Yeah I started composing more myself barely sample but, some artist come to me with some samples and i never pass it down!


    You killed it with that arrangement and the way you chopped it up great example!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2017 at 6:33 AM
    Fade likes this.
    I've been studying Pete Rock for a couple of years now watching interviews & him making beats. I like to chop at least 8 record's of different instruments & change the pitch on certain melodys along with some delay effects in the snare or hats. I eq each track on my mixer. When you play your own melody with the same sounds from the record & change pitches on these tiny chops, you won't recognize 1 chop.
    Fade and Drago Zetić like this.
  14. Fade
    @A.R. DASUPASTAR Exactly. Nowadays we have no choice but to hide the samples so that's when trickery and effects come into play. Done right and it's not even recognizable.