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How to Sample When Making Music

Learn the what and how of sampling, plus tips on better technique

Last Updated: October 2023 | Article Details: 5973 words (31 – 33 minute read)

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Sampling is one of the most fundamental skills of anyone involved in the production of music. And you’re gonna learn some s**t today!

If you’re 100% brand new to beat making, check out our complete guide on how to make beats first. We’re going to assume you’re at least familiar with the music making process.

Let’s get into it.

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What is Sampling in Music?

Sampling is a music production technique that involves using a piece (or several pieces) of recorded audio in a creative way to come up an entirely new/different composition.

You’re literally taking a “sample” of audio and using it to compose something new.

A sample can be a “one-shot” audio recording of a voice, drum, melodic instrument or any other sound. One-shots are short snippets usually used to create entirely new patterns of music (like sequencing a drum groove using various “drum samples”).

But a sample can also be a longer section of a piece of music/audio – either pre-recorded (like a popular song), or freshly recorded (like nature sound effects outside your window) – that’s used as a “loop” that repeats throughout a new composition.

Often, both types of samples are used within a new piece of music. For example, in Hip-Hop you’ll find that melodic loops are “sampled” for the main harmony/melody of a song and then drum one-shots are used on top to create the drum groove.

Further, sample-based instruments are hardware/software instruments that use pre-recorded one-shot samples (like single piano notes, for example) to create a fully “playable” instrument using a keyboard or pads.

The options on how you use samples are pretty limitless and sampling techniques can be found in songs from basically every popular music genre out there.

Vinyl Turntable Playing Record

Sampling vs. Interpolations vs. Remixes vs. Covers

There can sometimes be confusion between various terms used in music production. So before we go any further let’s clear a couple up.

  • Sampling: using audio recordings in creative ways to form a new/distinct composition
  • Interpolation: re-playing an existing composition yourself, not using the original pre-recorded audio
  • Remix: creating a distinct/new composition using a piece (or pieces) from another song as the basis/foundation of it
  • Cover: re-playing someone else’s song yourself, not using any pre-recorded/existing audio from the original

One thing to note is that all of the above ways of making music can use samples or sampling techniques in general. The distinction is that interpolations and covers don’t use any of the original song’s pre-recorded audio – the sounds get re-played live by other players to create a brand new version of that original recording.

Music Sampling Ideology

So now that you know what exactly sampling is, let’s talk about the ideology behind it – why and how pre-recorded audio gets used to create new productions.

Some very ignorant people will argue that sampling is “cheating” or taking a “short-cut” by people who don’t know how to make music the “real” way – using instruments from scratch.

Jazz Section of Record Store

But that’s not at all true.

Sampling is one of the most fundamental expressions of creativity. It’s taking something that exists and creating something entirely new from it.

It’s innovation and creation. It’s not cheating.

In order to sample properly, one needs to understand harmony, melody, groove and rhythm. There’s no getting around it.

So why not just play instruments from scratch? You can, and should. But sampling gives you entirely different textures, timbres and melodic/rhythmic/harmonic possibilities that just aren’t there when you’re playing stuff from scratch.

What to Sample

The short answer to the question “what should I sample?” is… literally anything. If it makes an audible noise/sound, it can be sampled and used in your musical compositions.

But here are four basic sources you can sample:

  1. Existing songs
    • example: a classic 70’s soul record or your favorite 90s R&B song
  2. Sample packs available for purchase
    • example: a pack of pre-made melodic loops from another producer
  3. Various non-song audio recordings
    • example: a recording of a speech someone gave
  4. The world at large
    • example: traffic or birds chirping as background noise, or the sound of your keys jingling as a percussion sound


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What Can You Sample Legally?

IMPORTANT NOTE: None of the information in this article should be considered legal advice. Please get in touch with a legal professional if legal advice is what you’re after. This is informational content only.

There’s one big issue when it comes to sampling, and that’s “sample clearance.”

When you use someone else’s audio recording, you’re often using a copyrighted work – meaning you’re not allowed to use that recording without the express permission of the person(s) that owns the copyright.

This is a big issue if you’re using an existing song that’s not classified as “creative commons” or “public use.” It can get you into hot water (i.e. legal trouble), especially if your new song takes off. There are some grey areas are things like the “de minimis defense,” but that’s all beyond me… Talk to a lawyer.

Scales of Justice

But with things you record yourself you’re in the clear (as long as it’s not you recording someone else’s recording that’s copyrighted). And some non-song audio recordings may be deemed as “public use,” but if a company created that recording originally, you’ll need to be careful (check with the company).

With sample packs that you purchase, it’s often understood you’ll be using the material in a new composition and the pack will include a license granting you permission under specific terms/conditions.

So it’s a good idea to know what you’re sampling and any potential issues that might come up from your use of that sample.

Sample Clearance

Let’s briefly talk about the process of clearing a sample for use in your own productions. You need the permission of both the publisher and the owner of the master recording (copyright holder) to use any sample of pre-recorded material. That can be pretty difficult to do, especially for independent artists and producers.

Dealing with agencies and copyright law is a headache. But it’s something you’ll have to do if you want to do things “the right way.”

It’s really as “simple” as finding out who the rights holders are, and contacting them (or their agencies) directly to negotiate usage and the cost of using the sample.

A much easier way to sample nowadays is to use a library of music like TrackLib. They’ve already done the hard work of pre-clearing and negotiating pricing on the use of the music in their library. So you just find the song you want to sample, pay the license fee and you’re good to go.

Finding the Right Sample

Discovering the right sample can be a tricky process. Just mashing a bunch of pre-recorded audio together may turn out cool but it may also sound like garbage.

This is especially the case for sampling existing songs. You want to find a song that contains a section of music that would work for whatever type of song you’re working on.

Sample-based producers spend hours listening to music and scouring through esoteric recordings to find that perfect sample.

There’s also a bit of an ego-centric habit of only wanting to sample things that haven’t already been sampled, but that’s not realistic in the long-run.

If you’re interested in learning what’s been sampled in some of your favorite songs, check out WhoSampled.

Vinyl records

Besides there are some recordings out there – like Nautilus by Bob James, or the Amen breakbeat – that have been sampled over and over again by different producers. It’s almost like they’re rights of passage for new beat makers.

Finally, sound selection (learn more) in general is a HUGE area of music production that can make or break an entire song. So spend the time diggin’ through sample-able material and combine things that give you a cohesive and professional sound overall.

As you listen to something you want to potentially sample, actively pay attention to various sections of the overall song – the drum break, the instrumental break, the intro, the post-chorus, etc. If you hear something you think would make a great foundation for a totally new composition (ex/ a flowing string section that lasts for 4 bars or 2 bars of piano chord changes, etc.), you can then try sampling it.

The more you listen, and the more you try to sample the better and better you’ll get at it.

Where to Find Samples to Use

There are a ton of places you can go to find samples you can use. Some of them expect you to sample their recordings, while others don’t want you to.

But literally the world is your oyster.

If you’re recording your own samples, almost everything is probably fair game. All you need is a quality audio recorder and you’re good to go. Go explore the world.

If you’re looking for pre-recorded, non-song audio, places like YouTube and Google are invaluable sources of audio.

If you’re looking for existing songs to sample from, vinyl, CDs and audio tapes are often used. But technically you can sample from Spotify and Apple Music, too. But again, sampling these sources is not legal unless you have the copyright owner’s permission.

A better way to sample from existing songs is something like Tracklib – they’re a giant library of existing songs that you’re actually allowed to sample legally. They’re an invaluable resource to many sample-based producers out there.

When it comes to sample packs, there are TONS of companies (and popular producers) out there offering these packs. Here’s just a few:

  • Splice
  • ADSR Sounds
  • Cymatics
  • LoopMasters
  • ProducerLoops

We definitely recommend you try out Splice if you’re looking for sample packs. It’s way better value than most other companies. For a monthly fee, you get a bunch of credits to download individual samples from the packs that you like, instead of having to buy the entire pack.


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Popular Ways to Use Samples

There are a few common and popular techniques used by producers to integrate sampling into their music.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of ways you can use samples, but this should help you get started right.

Using One-Shots to Create New Patterns

The first way to use samples in your music is to collect a bunch of one-shots and use them to create new musical patterns.

You could, for example, use various individual drum sounds (i.e. one-shots) to come up with a drum groove for the rhythm of your song. You’d use a kick sample, snare sample, hi-hat samples and other percussive sounds to either program/sequence (i.e. draw in with a mouse) a pattern or play it live with a controller (i.e. MIDI keyboard or pads).

You could also take melodic one shots (like a sampled bass note or a sampled guitar strum) to create a harmonic/melodic pattern for your song. Modern sampler hardware/software will take that one note and pitch-shift it across an entire keyboard, so you can play more than just the single note that was sampled for the one-shot.

Using Loops and Other Recordings As Is

Sometimes you’ll find an incredible melodic loop (either from an existing song or in a sample pack) that’s just so good, you don’t want to edit/change it in any way.

There’s nothing wrong with using a loop as is if that’s the sound you’re after.

Producers will just loop a certain section of a recording they like (synced to the tempo of the song) over and over and program/play other patterns over top of it. This is common in Hip-Hop (especially early hip-hop that used drum breaks from old vinyl records).

Woman Working on Audio Production

Other times, you may loop an atmospheric recording (like birds chirping or coffee shop background noise) to add some texture to the song as a whole.

But the sample doesn’t have to be a loop either. Maybe it just plays once all the way through, in various song sections (or a single song section).

There are no hard and fast rules to sampling.

Chopping Up Loops/Recordings and Replaying Them

The most iconic way of sampling is definitely taking a loop (either melodic, rhythmic or vocal) and “chop it up” (slice it into various smaller sections) and then re-play the pieces in a different order than the original full loop. (Or in the exact order it already was!)

This is a really fun way to work with samples and you can come up with really creative, out-there patterns that just aren’t possible to create by using sounds/instruments you make from scratch (learn more).

Most of the time you’ll work with a sample that has a set number of bars/measures and put a chop/slice on every beat. This helps you maintain the time/rhythm of the original sample easier.

Other times you may take an entire 3 minute song, for example, and slice out various sections of it that you like and want to use (more like working with one-shots, than loops).

Adding Ear Candy

Adding ear candy to your tracks is important – you want to give listeners a novel/new, “hooky” thing that stands out and makes their ears perk up.

Sampling is a great way to achieve this.

It’s often done more with one-shots than loops, but doesn’t have to be.

For example, you may have an entire track created from scratch using instruments you played but you also add a “shimmering” guitar lick that you sampled from somewhere else every now and then throughout the track.

It’s a great way to spice up a track overall.


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How to Sample Audio Step-by-Step

Now that you’re more familiar with the theory behind sampling audio in music production, let’s talk about exactly how it’s done.

There’s more than one way to get the job done, but here’s a common approache to sampling something for use in your own songs.

Sampling Using Software

  1. Find a Sample to Use

    The first thing to do is find what audio you want to sample. This could be pre-recorded or something your record fresh. Browse libraries like Splice and Tracklib, scour YouTube or explore the neighbourhoods outside to find something cool to capture as audio

  2. Open Your DAW and Sampler Module (or Hardware Recorder)

    You need to capture the audio somehow. If it’s a pre-recorded file, that’s easy enough to drag-and-drop into your DAW’s timeline. But if it’s a freshly recorded sample, you’ll need to record it into your DAW or using a dedicated audio recorder (like your phone).

  3. Capture the Audio Sample

    Record your audio from the source directly into your DAW’s timeline as an audio track, using a microphone or line/phono input on your audio interface. Alternately, import a pre-recorded audio file you want to sample directly into your DAW’s timeline or sampler module. This could be an existing recording, or something you recorded fresh using a hardware audio recorder.

  4. Chop it Up

    You can either let the sample play in full untouched or you can slice up a longer loop into smaller sections. You can also cut out small fractions from the overall recording to use as one-shots. Gather all the pieces you intend on using in your production.

  5. Edit the Sample or Assign the Chops to Pads/Keys (optional)

    If you want, at this point you can tweak and edit the sample you captured and chopped up – time-stretch it, pitch-shift it, add effects, reverse it, distort it, filter it with EQ, etc. If you plan on playing the sample out live, you’ll also want to assign each chop/sample to a separate pad/key on your MIDI controller.

  6. Sequence a Pattern Using the Sample

    Now it’s time to take all that recorded audio and strategically place each chop/one-shot/loop into a musical pattern. This could be a drum groove, a harmonic progression or a melodic/vocal line, etc. This is where you take the sampled audio and arrange it (or each piece of it) into something musical that fits in your overall song. You can do this by dragging and dropping or copy/pasting with a mouse or by playing it live with a MIDI controller.

  7. Tweak the Sample or the Sequence to Get Things Tight

    Once you’ve got the sample sequenced into a musical pattern, you can continue to tweak it (adjusting the chops/slices, adding/changing effects processing, tightening the timing of each piece, etc). As it plays back, make sure it sounds good to you as a distinct musical idea.

  8. Repeat Steps 1-7 As Needed

    A lot of songs – especially EDM and Hip-Hop tracks – often contain much more than one sample. Your entire song can be built off of nothing but samples, or a combination of samples and instruments played from scratch. Use as many samples as you want (or any combination of samples/instruments) in your track to bring your musical idea into reality.

  9. Finish Off the Song

    Now that your sample is integrated into your production, you can finish off the song with other musical patterns, arrangement, vocal recording (if applicable) and mixing/mastering.

Related Content: How to Arrange Your Beats and Songs – Read More

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What to Use to Sample – Hardware vs. Software

There are lots of different tools out there you can use to get started with sampling, so let’s talk about a few (outside of the basics like a good set of studio headphones [our picks], properly set up studio monitors [learn more] or an audio interface, etc.).

Sampling With Hardware

The original samplers back in the day were all hardware based beat making equipment (buyers guide). It was a giant electronic machine that had the ability to record audio and assign the audio to a particular drum pad or keyboard key.

The most iconic example is the Akai MPC being fed audio from a vinyl turntable connected to it’s input ports. It’s the setup you see in the image at the very top of this page.

Hardware Sampler

You connect everything, throw on a record, hit record on the sampler and let the record play. The audio would get recorded and then you could adjust/truncate the length and chop it up if you wanted. It would then let you sequence the sampled audio into different musical patterns.

Everything you wanted to do with the sample would be handled by the device itself (usually). They all had different features and on-board effects, but most allowed you to work with the sample directly.

Here are some current options for hardware sampling:

Sampling With Software

With the dawn of the digital era, we got software samplers. They were pieces of software that run on your computer (usually inside a DAW – digital audio workstation) and basically did everything the older hardware samplers did, just digitally.

Software Sampler Screenshot

The software with the best workflow for this is definitely the Native Instruments Maschine series of hardware/software beat makers. They work just like the MPC and other sampling hardware, but give you the flexibility that digital software and a computer offer.

But there are software-only solutions that you can use inside your existing DAW. Some examples include:

What’s more is some of the options for beat making software like FL Studio and Ableton Live have built in sampler modules that come bundled with their software. Ableton has Simpler and Sampler, FL Studio has FruitySlicer and SliceX while Reason+ has the NN-19 and NN-XT.

To use these, you would capture the audio inside your DAW (or download pre-recorded audio from the internet) and drag it into the sampler module you’re using to manipulate it.

General Approaches to Using Samples in Your Music

When you’re sampling there are a couple of different approaches you can use to turn your musical idea into reality. They’ve both got their pros and cons, and is really a matter of preference more than anything else.

Let’s talk about both.

Using Audio

The first way you can use your sample is by keeping it as “regular” audio.

In this approach, you’d drag the audio onto your DAW’s timeline and start slicing it up and using your mouse to place it where you want in the timeline manually.

It’s a great approach if you don’t have the best timing/rhythm for playing something out live, or you want precise control of how you sequence your music pattern using the sample.

If you’re using a loop as a whole, you can also leave it as audio and just copy/paste it across your DAW timeline. With this approach you’re using the sample as a motif (i.e. a musical idea/phrase).

Using MIDI

The other way to do things is by using MIDI – which is basically just note data (information on what note gets played, when, at what pitch, etc).

This is where you’d chop up a sample and assign it to various keys or pads on your MIDI controller (keyboard/piano/pads) and then physically play the sample/chops back live, recording it into your DAW that way.

With this approach, you’re not just using the sample as a whole idea but instead you’re “playing” the sample like an instrument.

MIDI is the way your controller, the audio sample and your DAW communicate with each other to let you sequence/play a pattern out live.

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Sampling Techniques

Now that you know exactly how to sample audio for your beats and songs, let’s talk about the various techniques producers use to creatively work with the audio sample.

You don’t have to use these techniques all the time (or all at once), but they are tools in your tool-belt that can help you get the sample (and overall song) sounding better.

Prepping Your Samples

This is the most basic technique involved in sampling, and one that you WILL likely use every time you sample. When you’re sampling pre-recorded audio, it’s never going to be perfect right out of the gate.

Cleaning the sample may involve something as simple as truncating/shortening the audio to just the section you want to use. Or adjusting your chops/slices so they are easier to work with individually.

Sometimes the “grit” on an audio sample may be good – like vinyl static or the dullness of old-school recording technology. Other times, you may want to clean that up. There are some tools out there that let you clean audio – like RX9 from iZotope – but sometimes you may not want to because it messes with the “vibe” of the sample.

Filtering Samples

Another very-often used sampling technique is to use an EQ to filter your samples. A lot of pre-recorded audio (especially existing songs) have a lot of audio data in them.

If you’re planning on adding other elements to the sample – like drums or chords or a bassline – this can muddy things up and give you a bad sounding overall mix.

Low Pass Filtering Audio Samples

So you can slap an EQ filter on your samples (or your sampler software/hardware may have a built in filter) and you can take out some of the frequency content (i.e. highs/mids/lows or treble/bass, etc) to help it sit better in your overall song.

For example, maybe you want to add drums to a sample that already has some drums in it – you could use a “high pass” filter which will take out the low end of the sample (which is where a lot of the drum sounds will reside). Or if you want to use the bassline of a sample, you could use a “low pass” to get rid of the other sounds that are not bass-heavy.

Filters aren’t perfect, but they can take care of a lot for you.

Layering Samples

Another technique that is used by music producers a lot is layering samples on top of other recordings. This can be achieved in a couple of ways.

First, maybe there are two different sections of a sampled song you think would work well together. You could create two patterns that layer on top of each other from those two different samples.

But another technique that can boost the overall richness of a song is by using samples as an additional layer to other parts of your song. For example, if you’ve recorded live drums into your DAW you may notice that the kick and snare aren’t as heavy as you’d like.

What you can do is use samples from an existing song to layer on top of your own recorded kick and snare pattern. This will definitely beef up those drum sounds and add a lot more punch and grit to your overall mix.

Changing the Samples Tempo/Key

There are a couple of ways you might want to change the sample up to add a bit of novelty or interest to it.

Those two ways are time stretching and pitch shifting. In some cases you may want to do both.

Time stretching is something you do when you want to make the sample play faster or slower because the tempo of your new composition doesn’t match the original tempo of the sample.

Pitch Shifting is when you want the sample to playback at a different pitch. Maybe your beat is in C major, but the sample is played in D major. You could pitch-shift the sample to be more in line with your beat’s key.

LittleAlterBoy Screenshot

But you can pitch shift and time stretch for creative purposes too, not just corrective purposes.

Maybe you want something to play really fast because it sounds cool. Or maybe you want to pitch shift something up an entire octave or two because you like that “chipmunk” style vocal that was popularized in soulful, sample based hip-hop songs.

You could also take a single chord sample and pitch-shift it to make an entire chord progression from that one chord sound. Try changing things up or down in pitch by a fifth interval (7 semitones) or a fourth interval (5 semitones) and see what you get.


Resampling is basically where you take the audio you’re working with and bounce it down to a separate audio file – potentially with some tweaking to the sound.

The processing that happens when you “resample” something will degrade (or at the very least affect) the audio quality and character slightly. This can give a really nice, different texture to the sample/audio that you wouldn’t have had if you just used the sample as-is.

You can take this to another level by adjusting the sample rate and the bit depth of the audio. Sample rate and bit depth have to do with how much information your computer uses to reproduce or recapture the audio. The higher the sample rate and bit depth, the higher the clarity/quality will be.

If you intentionally degrade the sample rate and bit depth (by using lower values) when resampling, you add lots of grit and texture to the audio. Again, a lot of DAWs and their sampler modules will have settings for this.

Stem Splitting

With the dawn of AI we’ve gotten some new tools we can use as producers to really drill down to exactly what we want.

You can now take a sample of an existing song, and separate the various parts (or “stems”) of the overall mix? Love the vocal part of a song and just want to use it, not the rest of the instruments? Stem splitting allows that to happen.

There are a couple of tools out there that can help you accomplish this so you can just use individual parts of a sample that you want.

The best tool I’ve personally tried is RipX by HitNMix – a downloadable app. It’s a great tool and does a good job at separating individual stems from a song. Another tool (web browser based) is, but I wasn’t as impressed by it’s algorithm for separating song stems.

HitnMix RipX Stem Splitting Software

Neither one is GREAT (or even close to perfect), but they both do a semi-decent job considering how difficult of a thing it is to do.

Creative Tips for Better Sample Based Music

Creatively processing your samples is what lets you add a bit of your own unique vibe and character to your song. Since you’re using pre-recorded audio material, doing some processing can help make it more “yours” than simply using it as-is.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re sampling.


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Use Effects Processing

Using FX is a necessity when making music – especially when mixing and mastering your song (learn more). It allows you to explore so many different possibilities with your music.

In terms of sampling there’s a lot you can do beyond just EQ filtering to make the sample stand out.

You can change the timbre (sound quality/texture) of the sample, you can change the timing of the sample or you can change the atmosphere of the sample by using specific effects.

Changing Timbre

  • Add modulation effects (phasers, flangers, chorus, etc.)
  • Add harmonic effects (distortion, saturation, bit-crushers, etc.)
  • Use EQ to accentuate or downplay certain frequencies of the sound

Changing Time

  • Add pitch-shifting or time-stretching
  • Chop up and re-order sample slices
  • Use side chain compression to add a pumping effect
  • Use a noise gate to automate how the sample plays back (start/stop)
  • Reverse the sample (or individual chops) to play backwards instead of forwards

Changing Atmosphere

  • Add additional reverb to wash it out
  • Add additional delay effect to get it echoing/repeating
  • Use EQ to dampen or brighten the sound overall

Vary Your Chopping Style

When you’re sampling, chopping and slicing is a big part of the process (most of the time).

But how you chop/slice your samples can have a pretty big impact on how you end up playing the sample back when you’re composing.

Try doing different things with your chopping to see how it impacts the vibe/rhythm of your song.

You could try chopping “on beat” where you place a slice on every beat of the bar of music you sampled. Or you could try chopping “off beat” where you place slices either randomly or around specific notes/sounds/phrases in the sample.

Both of those ways will impact how you use the sample itself so try experimenting a bit and see what happens.

Dig Through the Crates

When sampling first became popularized, hip-hop producers coined the term “digging in the crates.” The phrase comes from the fact that producers would “dig” through crates of vinyl records to find esoteric records that they’d use for their sampling.

And the art of digging became a sought-after skill because of it.

This plays into the idea mentioned earlier of finding sample-able material that no one has ever used before. It’s like mining for diamonds. You go through a bunch of normal rock to find that one gem that stands out from the rest.

Diggin Crates for Samples from Records

Listen to lots of music, and try finding things to sample that aren’t already beaten to death. You won’t always be able to do this, but you should definitely try.

Do the thing that hasn’t already been done. Use the sample that hasn’t been used. Use a sample in a way that it hasn’t been used before.

Just get creative with it and do something wild. You never know what you might come up with.

Combine Various Sources

A lot of the time you may just find a sample in a single piece of audio that you use as the basis of your song. You’ll then add other instruments like drum sounds or synth vsts (here are the best ones) on top of that.

But you’re not limited to just using one piece of audio for your sample(s). You can try taking multiple different songs or audio recordings and take samples from each of them. Then you’d combine them all into one song.

This may require a keen ear (that can differentiate pitches and tempos) or a lot of time-stretching and pitch-shifting. But if you do it right you can get some crazy beats that wouldn’t have been possible if you didn’t combine different sample sources.

Sometimes the Original (and Simpler) is Better

After talking about all these different ways you can mess with and combine samples it’s important to remember one thing: less is more.

That’s a mantra when it comes to music in so many ways.

In the case of sampling it means that sometimes you’ll just want to use one sample in it’s original form because it JUST WORKS. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

You don’t have to combine 12 samples which have all been pitch shifted and time stretched and bit crushed. Sometimes, the simple things works the best and gives you the vibe you want.

Don’t over-produce. It’s easy to do, but usually never the right way to go.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Does Sampling Music Mean?

    Sampling music means to take a small piece of a pre-recorded song and use it in a brand new composition. You’re literally taking a “sample” of something else (a small piece of a larger whole) and using it in your own song as a part of the instrumentation or vocals.

    When Did Sampling Music Start?

    Music sampling has been around for a long time. The term “sampling” started gaining traction in the 1970s by the makers of the Fairlight CMI synth. That synth had the ability to record and playback small snippets of external audio, and the company referred to this as “sampling.”

    Is Sampling Music Legal or Stealing and Illegal?

    Sampling music is legally pretty grey – that means it can be all over the place – so don’t take this as legal advice. Technically speaking, if you sample someone else’s recording you MUST HAVE their permission to do so. If you do not seek permission and use a sample in a commercial release, it would probably be considered stealing or copyright infringement.

    Does Sampling Music Cost Money?

    In most cases, yes sampling music and releasing that music will cost you money. If you commercially release a song with a sample in it, you need to obtain the permission of both the publisher of the music you sampled and the copyright owner of the recording. To get that permission will usually require a license fee and royalty sharing.

    Are Sample Packs Royalty Free

    Some sample packs will be royalty free while others will not be. For the most part, every sample pack you buy will have terms & conditions for using the samples in your music. They will go over if and when royalties are owed to the sample pack creator. Most royalty-free sample packs will let you know immediately on their websites if they are royalty-free.

    Final Thoughts

    Sampling has been around for what seems like forever now, and it’s not getting old or worn-out.

    It’s a time-tested music production technique that has limitless possibilities.

    Even if you prefer playing instruments (real or software based) in your music from scratch, don’t sleep on the unique textures sampling can bring to your music.

    Try it out in some of your songs and get creative with it. It’s an art-form all to itself.

    If you’re new to making music, sign-up for our free Beat Making Cheat Sheets and you’ll get our 7-Day Course to Better Beats as well.

    Thanks for reading this complete guide on how to sample music for your beats and songs. Hope it was helpful!

    Additional Resources

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    About The Author:

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.