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Use The Right Sounds And Your Beats Will Be Unstoppable

  1. Fade

    Fade

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    Whether sampling from vinyl or queuing up sounds from your favorite synth, it can be difficult to find the right sound for your productions. There are tons of beats out there that sound decent, but only a few that really stand out, and mostly it's because of the sounds that were used. If you find the right sound for your beat, the rest should easily fall into place.

    This is a look at finding the right sounds for your beats.

    Sampling Is Either Hit Or Miss

    As a sample-based producer, I spend a lot of time digging through my vinyl and other audio sources in order to find that special something. That sample that will just take my beat to the next level.

    Unfortunately, it's not that easy.

    This is why you always hear about producers going digging at record shops, or even today, digging online for hours because with all of the songs out there, there's just too much ground to cover. However, one of the most overlooked aspects of sampling is that it's not just about finding the right sample, but rather the right sound.

    For example, some producers will take a sample from a famous song and just loop it, maybe even chopping it a bit to create something new, but mostly it's a basic loop. Some producers do just loops - from the melody to the drums and everything in between! But if it works, who cares, right?



    The thing is, all the really good samples (loop-based) have pretty much been sampled already. This is why I always listen for sounds in between the loops. So instead of sampling a ready-made 4-bar loop from a famous Jazz musician, I will instead take just a short snippet after, before, or in the middle. I repeat this process until I have different snippets of that song recorded and I'm ready to go.

    Once I have a bunch of snippets loaded up on my pads, the sky's the limit. You see, with a loop you're stuck working with that sample, whereas with snippets you have a much broader area that you can cover, so it makes making beats much more fun. You can use the snippets as is, or chop them up even more. Either way, at least you're doing much more than just looping something.

    This Also Applies To Any Kind Of Sound

    But this scenario doesn't just apply to sampling, as it's also a big factor when looking for synth sounds to play.

    Let's say you have synth and there are some instruments loaded up, what do you do? I have noticed a trend with new beatmakers where they use whatever stock sounds come with a program, and it's to the point where even seasoned producers are using what I call "mad cheese". I think part of it is that these people are too lazy to find a nice synth sound, or they actually think the cheesy sounds are good.

    When I first started making beats, I didn't have much to work with but I used what I had to still come up with some really good beats. Working with a cheap Casio keyboard and some basic soundfonts, along with whatever I had in the General MIDI setup, I made it sound good. The sounds weren't great, so what I did was record my tracks and then I would go back and either switch the instruments out via MIDI with something better, or I would alter the audio so that it sounded grittier.

    Final Thoughts

    So if you don't have much to work with by way of sound selection, there's always a way to make it sound better. For those that are using stock sounds, the sounds today are getting better, but you should still alter them so that they don't sound like stock sounds. Your beats will be much better.


    If you're digging for samples, don't worry about finding that certain loop from that certain artist. I managed to take small sample snippets from a Kenny Rogers record and made the beat sound really dark. The sky's the limit!

    Further Reading About Sampling
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
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  2. Jay Grier

    Jay Grier

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    DEFINITELY agree with taking snippets. You gotta think of that as a TECHNIQUE. I would say its important to take snippets, both for its multiplying effect on the amount of tracks you can make as well as breaking out of the habit of taking the 4 bar loop. This way challenges you to literally create your loop, whatever the length.
     
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  3. Beautiful Noise

    Beautiful Noise

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    Damn Fade, where did you find that picture. A room full of vinyl and a hottie picking out some records? Yes, please!
     
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  4. Fade

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    @Jay Grier: You're right, it should be a technique if anything, rather than just looping stuff up.

    @Beautiful Noise: That's my wife going through my vinyl.... (I wish)
     
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  5. MaseedProd

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    Couldn't agree more. Sound selection is the difference between a good beat and an amazing beat. Often producers will ask "How did he get his drums to hit so nice?" or "How did he get that Fender Rhodes to sounds so warm and fat?" Well often the answer is...the producer started off with great sounds to begin with and a good mix made them sound incredible. In most cases when it comes to mixing...less is more, you shouldn't have to add too much eq, compression, or processing to make the sound fat and if you have to do all that, then you should question your sound selection more than you should question what you did with the mix.

    Now that artists can simply lease or (acquire) beats that are pre-mixed and mastered on-line, I find that engineers are presented with a new challenge that comes with only having a stereo MP3 file to work with. A lot of these producers are not very good at mixing and although the beat may be dope, the mix may not be and trying to make an artist's vocals sound good on a poorly mixed instrumental is not easy at all. I recently had to do that with one of my clients. I mixed the song 5 times and I'm still not very happy with it. The thing is, you have to make the vocal fit in with the beat, you can't just make the vocals sound stellar and leave the beat untreated, the two just won't fit. It's like taking a present day acapella from Celeon Deon and putting it on top of a record that was recorded in the 80s. Sure you can make the levels match but the sheen of that shiny new vocal will stick out like a sore thumb against that old school mixed track. It's a struggle.

    That being said...producers get the best sounds you can find, give your songs the best mix you can or let someone else mix it.
     
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  6. wizard

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    i will chop her up!! omg them boob boob panties my favorite record of all time!! lol

    yeaaah don't just loop thats lazy crap!!
    I don't remember the last time i just looped back in 84 maybe?? when i had the gemini mixer it came with that big button of 12 secs of sample for djing! DOPE ARTICLE!!!


    @Fade FIRST WAS THE EQ
    NOW THIS AMAZING RECORD!! IS THAT A 12' OR A 45 ? HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA
     
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  7. Pug

    Pug

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    Some of my favorite classic hiphop tracks use loops, bunch of lazy bastards.
     
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  8. Klypse

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    As a sampled based producer, I usually take the first 15 secs and chop it up. And then I'll take the middle of the sample (normally 1:00 or 2 in) and take 15 secs of that and chop it. If it has vocals, ill chop those separate. I never do full loops because there's no challenge in it...

    Article is spot on...
     
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  9. Fade

    Fade

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    @Klypse Do you do it like (like a formula)? Or that's the ballpark how you do it normally? Because sometimes you can get some nice samples at the end as well.
     
  10. Klypse

    Klypse

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    I guess it all depends on the sample. If the sample has different melodies throughout the song, ill use all three (beginning, middle, and end). If it has the same melody throughout the whole song, then I'll just grab the easiest one and add FX or some other shit on it.
     
  11. rapking84

    rapking84

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    Very insightful article. Thank you!

    -----------------------
    THIS IS WHAT I'M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW:
    -Rapper DaBaby, dude who wears a diaper but can actually rap: www.audiomack.com/album/artist1984/billion-dollar-baby
    -R.I.P. prodigy of Mobb Deep, Infamous album on repeat
    -4:44 Jay-Z
     

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