The Art Of Sampling In Hip Hop Music

February 3, 2012

Hip Hop Sampling, Logic Pro


If you know some music history then you know that Hip Hop’s origin is deeply rooted in the art of sampling, which is still very popular today.  Legendary producers like DJ Premiere and Dr. Dre have made careers out of sampling records in their work.  In this demonstration we’ll show you how to sample an old song and build an authentic Hip Hop remix.

Take a listen to the example we’re going to create:

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In the old days sampling was much more labor intensive.  You couldn’t do a Google search for old bands, audition their music online, and instantly download it.  Back then it was a bit more like hunting for hidden treasure.  You could spend days, weeks, even years digging through crates of vinyl records before finding that perfect sample.

From a distance the art of sampling is quite simple.  Find a section (or sections) of a song you want to sample, remove it from the song, and build your own, unique composition around it.

Nowadays you can easily accomplish this task in any decent DAW with a little know-how, so here is how to get started.

Step 1 – Find the song AND song part you want to sample.

Try searching for old soul or rock bands to generate some leads – anything from James Brown to Skid Row.

Google Search for Old Rock Bands

 

Step 2 – Pick a band, find their discography and track listing, then locate a site where you can audition their music. 

If you can find the name of a song, then chances are you can audition it on YouTube.

The simplified sections in a song are normally most favorable for sampling because they give you more creative freedom to build around.  Look for a solo piano part in the beginning, or a bass guitar part on a breakdown, etc. Popular places for simplified sections in a song are the intros, outros, and bridge parts.   Often times I skim through the song hitting these key points to cut down on time.

Step 3 – Choose the song you want to sample, purchase/ download it and import it into your DAW.

Note:  If you own or have access to an extensive record or CD collection you could dig through that in search of good samples as well.

I chose to sample a guitar part from an old Skid Row song – Quicksand Jesus.

Here is a snippet of the song’s intro guitar part:

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To do this, we need to find a part of the guitar riff that loops or repeats and trim that section out of the song.

The highlighted region represents the guitar part I intend to sample.

 

Step 4 – Remove the sample from the song.

Once the sample is sliced, put it on its own track.

Step 5 – Figure out the sample’s tempo and Loop it.

You can easily figure out the tempo of a loop in Logic Pro by making use of its tempo features in the Options menu.

Note: To figure out the tempo you must know the length (in bars) of your sample and the time signature (most music is in 4/4).

Start by setting up your loop markers to an even bar (depending on the length of your sample).  Next, scroll up to Options, select Tempo, and choose Adjust Tempo using Region length and Locators.

Logic Pro has now identified the tempo of this sample and made it the master tempo of your arrangement.

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Step 6 – Build your own beat around your sample. 

Once you have your sample in a looped segment and the tempo identified you are ready to build your own composition.

In this case, I started with some drums to get a rhythm going and then added a subtle pad. The drums and pad are the only new sounds I introduced in this demonstration, but you can add as little or as many sounds as you like.

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Step 7 – Finally, arrange and mix your new track.

The Downside To Sampling

The downside to sampling somebody else’s music is that you have to get clearance to use that sample in your work on a commercial level.  This can be a difficult task – especially for those who don’t have a big name in the music industry. Not to mention, it could end up costing you some big bucks.  For more information on this subject check out an article from Platinum Loops that covers the issue in detail.

Hip Hop Samples And The Law

The Solution

The solution to this problem is simple.  Purchase professionally crafted, royalty free samples from Platinum Loops.  It will save you loads of time in digging for that perfect sample and you won’t have to pay a penny in royalties or worry about getting clearance to use the sample in your professional work.  Browse through their demos, try out the free loops, and obtain your purchases via instant download from Platinum Loops.

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One Response to “The Art Of Sampling In Hip Hop Music”

  1. Dan Says:

    Very simple steps and great sample. It came out great! Thanks for the inspiration and guidance I appreciate, I really do.

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