Using Sampling in Popular Music

by Reyse Jaster

Over the past year, I have been investigating the use of samples in popular music. Samples take various forms in music. In rock music, it is becoming increasingly popular to replace a live drum sound with one that has been previously recorded. The previously recorded sound, also known as a sample, is considered to be superior. In other instances, samples have come to be a main component in hip-hop and many electronic music genres. This method of creating music is one that is uniquely modern and worth exploring.

The first time that I really came to appreciate sampling was when I heard the album Endtroducing… by the artist Josh Davis, also known as DJ Shadow. This album is credited as being the first album created entirely by samples. Although the album clearly has roots in the hip-hop production that Davis grew up with, the resulting music is not clearly definable. One does not necessarily be a fan of hip-hop to enjoy this album. Much like a sculptor make use found objects to create their piece of art, Davis uses found portions of recorded music to create something new and compelling. A short section of piano is removed from its original context and juxtaposed against a funk drum sample. Despite the fact that each component of the piece is not created by Davis, the result is greater than the sum of its parts. Even if I knew the origin of a sample in one of these pieces, I still felt as if Davis had made it his own.

Using modern software and hardware, I have been learning to create my own music using samples. This process has increased my appreciation of this type of music. Modern hip-hop sampling originated in the late 1980s with the advent of new hardware that made the process more efficient. Equipment such as the Akai MPC gave hip-hop producers the freedom to experiment with samples in the digital realm. They no longer had to physically cut and splice pieces of magnetic tape. My equipment of choice, the Native Instruments Maschine, could be considered a modernized version of an Akai MPC. The touch sensitive pads, and button layout are similar to the MPC, but instead of being a standalone piece of equipment, the Maschine instead functions as a tactile software controller.

Although one could certainly create a sample-based piece of music by exclusively using software with a computer keyboard and mouse, Maschine provides a more musical approach. The user is able to ‘play’ a sample with the touch sensitive pads, similar to playing a note or chord with a traditional acoustic instrument. The user can assign any sound they wish to a pad.

When creating a painting, the available colours are essentially endless. This is also the case in sample-based music creation. When you wish to use an existing portion of music to create a new work, you must be able to think of how that portion will stand alone. This thought process can be a daunting task in itself. However, one must then determine how multiple portions of unrelated music will work together. At this stage, and individual’s creatively can truly flourish.

Current technology allows samples to be incorporated easily into music. The onus now lies on the musician to expand the possibilities of this type of music. I hope to foster this potential, and look forward to the new music it will bring.

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How to Use an Electric Guitar With Logic Pro and a Motu Interface

by Reyse Jaster.

Overview
This tutorial teaches a beginner to record and add effects to an electric guitar using the software Logic Pro available for Mac OS. The guitar is interfaced directly with the computer via a MOTU UltraLite mk3 Audio Interface and not using a guitar amplifier. The user win be guided from turning on the equipment all the way to having a completed recording.

Equipment required

-Macintosh computer wi firewire 800 port (high memory with latest operating system preferred) -Logic Pro Digital Audio Workstation software
-MOTU UltraLite mk3 Audio Interface with appropriate power supply, firewire 400-800 cable, and installed drivers
-headphones with 1/4 inch plug -electric guitar with standard 1/4 inch output -standard 1/4 instrument cable

MOTU Connection and Setup

1. Connect MOTU to a power supply using the adapter
2. Connect MOTU via firewire cable before turning on computer and turn on by pushing the volume pot(knob) on MOTU
3. Startup computer
4. In spotlight, search “motu audio setup” and launch the application
5. Apply the following settings: *
sample rate: 44100, clock source: internal, default stereo input: analog 1-2, default stereo output: main out 1-2, phones assign: main out 1-2, main out assign: main out 1-2, return assign: analog 7-8

* These settings allow the MOTU to be the physical inputs and outputs for Logic. They also allow us to monitor the sound via headphones.

Logic Pro Setup

6. Open finder, applications, launch Logic Pro
7. File > New
7a. if an existing project is open, then click “Close” in the resulting dialog box
8. A window will open prompting the creation of a new track. If the window does not appear click the track button near the top of the screen and choose New. Use the default settings:
1 track, type: audio,format: mono, input: input 1, output: output 1-2, then click create
9. On bottom left below the meter where it says “Audio I”, double click, rename to “Guitar” for better organization and press the enter key
10. File > Save and choose and appropriate location. Leave “copy external audio files to project folder” checked, then select save

Connecting Electric Guitar and Setup

11. Connect headphones to MOTU via 1/4 inch input located on the front on the device under volume pot
12. Turn volume pot all the way down so you don’t damage your ears, the level will be adjusted later.
13. Using a standard 1/4 inch instrument cable, connect guitar to Input 1 located on far left side on motu on 1/4 inchIXLR combo jack, marked “MICIINSTR. IN 1”
14. Turn volume pot up on guitar
15. Strum to check input signal via the meter on MOTU, if no signal turn up Trim Pot for “MIC 1” located on front of MOTU until the meter indicates a signal
16. In Logic, press the “R” button located next to the “Guitar” label on the bottom left, or alternatively the “R” button on the top left next to the “Guitar” label
17. Strum guitar. You should now see an input signal on the meter in Logic and on the MOTU. You should also should see an output signal on the meter for the “Output” channel located near the bottom left of the screen.
18. Increase headphone volume to comfortable level using volume knob on MOTU
19. Once you know you have in input signal, increase gain if necessary using Trim Pot 1 on the MOTU, but ensure that when playing your loudest your signal does not reach or exceed the top of the “Guitar” meter in Logic, this will cause undesired clipping

Recording the Guitar

20. Ensure the track is record enabled. This is indicated with the red “R” flashing
21. On the bottom of the screen find the “transport buttons” (play, pause, etc) and press the record button which is the circle on the far right next to the pause button. Logic will now record what you play.
22. To stop recording press the stop button
23. To hear what you have recorded, return to the beginning by using the button on the far left of the transport buttons or click and drag the white vertical line in the main window to the far left
24. If you wish to delete and try again, simply click on the newly created data and press the delete key and click ok on the dialog box that appears

Adding Effects to Guitar Signal

The following describes one of many possible ways to add effects to the signal.

25. On bottom left in “Guitar” channel, click on one of the blank: “Insert” slots. This will bring up a menu of available options.
26. For this example we will explore a classic 80s chorus sound. Choose Modulation > Chorus > Mono Use the following settings*:
Intensity: about 10%, Rate: about 830 Hz. Mix: about 50%

*Example only. Feel free to experiment.

26a. On the far right under the “Library” tab there are also various presets for the selected effect
27. If you wish to change the effect entirely, click and hold your mouse over the Insert slot to bring up the menu again. There are hundreds of effects. Feel free to experiment.

Conclusion

You are now ready to record and add effects to your guitar in Logic Pro. If you require further instruction feel free to contact me.