April 16, 2016  

The Best Samples, from the Amen Break to My House

Not all samples are created equal. Some have woven their way into the fabric of electronic music history. Some have woven their way into far too many pop covers. However as EDM and commercial deep house fade and are replaced by both 90s re-work house and an ever more accessible bass and grime scene, samples and sample-hunting are on the rise.

Whether it’s obscure vocals from a decades-old hit or the kind of leftfield hooks that hip hop has taught the industry, emergent producers are slowly but surely become more creative in their approach. As a music school, we’re all about encouraging that through our courses. This is by no means a top ten, just a series of samples, tips and ideas we’ve had from students that we personally back.

The Amen Break

This is the most famous sample of them all. Don’t believe us? Watch the video above. In fact there’s a whole load of tutorials out there on how to master this drum structure for yourself. After inspiration and a few free tasters to get you on your way? Check out the sample packs here.

In The Beginning There Was Jack

We’ve got our own special opinion of this iconic sample (Kill it. For God’s sake, kill it before it lays eggs). However it is does admittedly turn heads at bars and house parties, and it’s crying out for a well vocoded remix. The original is a track by Chuck Roberts and it’s not strictly available as an acapella, but we’re sure creative minds can find a workaround.

Brass, brass everywhere

Jazz house, sax house, Gramaphonedzie, ENUR. Brass has a habit of being flash in the pan fodder. However tracks with a subtle trumpet stab or a clever hook can be mega effective. Just check out one of the most famous hooks of all time – from Beyonce’s Crazy In Love. Wanna know where that came from?

Check out some free brass samples here.

The 303 Bassline

Ok, not strictly a sample, but up there with the Amen Break – a bit of homework on this will provide you with a deeper understanding of some of the context behind electronic music. We’re not asking you to become a cratedigging academic, but getting your head around the sound of this will do you plenty of favours in adding authenticity to your tracks. Free 303 plug-ins, basslines and presets are all out there. Or you can make your own:

Reggae

It’s the root of drum’n’bass, jungle, hip hop and by wider association and production techniques, dance music. Reggae was in fact one of the first genres to make use of regular re-sampling, so it’s a fitting continuation that people dip into it today for the odd stab of inspiration. Ripping reggae isn’t always straightforward, so samples are likely your friend here.

Keys

A good set of keys will add impact to your melody no matter what genre of music you’re aiming for. There’s a whole history behind electric keys and their evolution from the blues and funk bands of the early 20th century, and it’s the subject of many a YouTube documentary. Chances are your DAW has a plug-in already geared to sound like this. In which case you may want to swap straight samples for patches.

The more leftfield and original you are with your tracks, generally speaking the better. But you can enhance that effect all the more by putting signposts and references into your music that people know about. It was that, after all, that brought electronic music into nightclubs as a resampled evolution from the funk and soul of bygone decades. So go out there and play with history.

Want to learn sampling, as well as other fundamental aspects of music production? You can as part of one of our online Diploma courses. Taken from anywhere in the world and for up to 64 weeks, they’re some of our most comprehensive courses. Graduates include Patrick Topping, Jon Rundell and No Artificial Colours so you know you’re in good hands. You can also try a free online sample course here.

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