How to make Sample Chops that Sound Good together
When I say ‘sample chops’ I mean musical samples, songs or audio that's been sliced into smaller pieces, called chops. Doing that in a DAW or hardware is simple with any slicing or marker tool.
But we as beat makers want to know: how do you make and choose sample chops that sound good together?
How do you chop samples that you can rearrange in a pleasing way?
Here are a couple things I look out for.
Melodic or Harmonic Contour
If you’re after a smooth beat you’ve got to pay attention to CONTOUR. This is something I pay attention to all the time.
Regarding the contour, this can be melody, bass, harmony or a combination.
The end of one chop needs to lead into the new chop somehow.
If you have a bunch of unrelated chops randomly stacked next to each other, it’s going to be a whole lot harder getting the final beat smooth. It's possible, but not for the impatient ;)
If your chops seem to lack smoothness, then next time try and choose only one element to focus on. Try and keep that element smooth throughout your chop arrangement.
For instance, let's say we choose 'chords' to be the one element we focus on.
Do the chords flow nicely from one chop to another?
Or if that doesn’t work out, what about choosing to focus on the melody?
Can you make a cool new melody with your sample chops? Etc. etc.
I bet you can!
Interesting Sounds & Textures
If your samples don’t sound interesting it doesn’t matter how smooth they are, it’s going to sound boring as fuck.
Hmm I don’t yet know if I want to be swearing on this blog. But anyway.
Case and point: You can have a smooth contour by having a single note… looping forever. Smooth but not interesting!
One way you can listen out for interesting sounds is to focus on texture.
Is the SOUND of your samples interesting?
If your samples sound a little dull, you can perhaps add some processing or layer another sample to make it pop more.
On sp404 devices I find that the vinyl sim or the compressor does wonders. Honestly, most FX will offer something cool if used tastefully. So play around.
If you’re in a DAW, try layering another sample on a separate track, or add a stronger bass line to a new instrument track to keep the sample chop arrangements sounding good.
Don’t overdo the textures and layers
Too many layered samples sound terrible. Ehhrrrgh.
Not only does it muddy your mix, but it kind of sounds like you’re being very indecisive about what to keep.
And if you aren’t convincing yourself about your sample choices, how you gonna convince me?
Deciding what to keep and what must go (no matter how painful!!) is a huge part of beat making. Too much of anything isn’t great. Yes, even se- wait I have no idea who is reading this.
Um, so yes, don’t overdo your romance with the sample layering and FX knobs!!
The Drum Kit needs to blend with the Sample Chops
Ah, the glue that brings it all together… your drum kit.
The samples in your drum kit need to complement the chops.
If they don’t blend well with your sample chops you can process them for HOURS with no progress.
So be real with yourself from the start. Does this kit work with your chops?? If not, ditch it, find or make a new one. Thank you… NEXT!
If you have no idea how to go about this then I can create a whole new post about this (plz DM or email me your suggestions).
But honestly, the crux is that you need to listen and be honest with yourself.
Does it sound bad? It's probably bad then ;)
Sound good? Lovely, move on...
Add your own flair
We can all make a great beat by simply copying someone else. And that’s a great way to learn! But it’s a terrible way to stand out from the crowd.
What can you do to this beat that makes it a lil more, uniquely yours? How can you add your own flair?
It might be adding a little synth, it might be juxtaposing different styles of music into one genre, or putting an entirely new melody over it… These are all things I like to do.
But if you really don’t know where to start, start here: Follow your curiosity!
What peaks your interest? Are you in a funk phase? What funk elements do you want to explore and incorporate to your beat?
Or maybe you’re a classical music theory junkie and dig quartal harmony and orchestration. How can you tastefully use that in a lofi hip hop context (or whatever genre you’re making right now)?
Do it! Try it! Grow from there and soon others will recognize your unique sound.
At the end of the day it’s all about the vibe. So have fun with it.
Be sensitive to how things feel at different steps of the creative process.
If something is not working, use these tips to help troubleshoot what the problem might be. Aaaaand then play some more.
Have fun, and lemme know how it goes.
Got questions or suggestions for future topics? Lmk too!
~ lil miss beats
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