Music production is a lot like cooking. You take a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Mix them up in a pot. In this case, FL studio. If you did it well enough and it slaps. We hail your good taste. This is not to say all chefs make good music but I do make a mean beef steak.
Sampling is a music production technique where you take a section of an existing sound and manipulate, chop and edit it for your beats. It’s a common and popular technique in hip hop music.
Everything can be sampled. The world is your sandbox. Some producers like using the sounds from their home environments to make soundscapes and music with sound that can almost transport you to where they were when they made the beat. Some producers like Timbaland, sample themselves.
There are times you have a melody idea and you want to make a beat with it real quick. Without the hustle of opening up your midi-controller, adding plugins and replaying the melody from memory.
In times like this, I record the melody.
To record in FL studio, click on options and select audio settings.
Check to see if the Sample rate of your audio interface matches that of FL. It is important that they do.
You also want your buffer size to be as low as possible. This helps reduce latency (signal delay) when you are recording.
After that, open the mixer, select a mixer track and route your input using the selector at the top of the mixer slots. Make sure to select a mono input. A stereo input will pan your recording to either 100% left or right.
When I’m recording, I make sure the countdown timer is activated. Activate it by clicking the 3,2.1 icon on the toolbar. I also activate the metronome by clicking on its icon. This ensures that I record my melody at the correct tempo.
Next, I click record or press R on my Keyboard. The metronome will start with a countdown then you can start recording.
You can press the spacebar to stop recording. Your recording will appear on the playlist.
And just like that, you’ve recorded your first sample.
Another way to sample in FL studio is to import an already recorded sample\track into FL. We’ve covered that extensively in the article below
Drag and drop your sample from the file explorer to the playlist in FL studio.
If you don’t know the tempo of your sample, you can find out by clicking the icon on the top left of the sample and selecting ‘detect tempo’.
A pop up will appear with the detected tempo, select the tempo to switch the project to match the samples tempo. You can also select a range if you are uncertain that FL has detected the right tempo (in our case, I selected 50-100).
FL studio will analyze the audio again and come up with a more accurate tempo. From the pop up menu that appears, click yes to adjust the project tempo to match the sample.
The next thing to find out about your sample is the key. To do this in Fl studio, click on the sample in fl studio to open the channel settings. Right click on the waveform in the channel settings and select ‘edit in audio editor’ This will open an instance of Edison.
In Edison, right-click on the waveform, scroll to Regions and select detect pitch regions.
Markers will appear across the sample indicating the key being played in the sample.
Now you are all set to begin sampling. Set your project to the sample’s tempo. Or not. It really depends on you. But now is the time to start manipulating the sample. I usually like to add a little personal touch to the sample. This way, I can use the sample repeatedly without it sounding the same.
One of the most common ways to manipulate the sample is reversing it. There are a number of ways to do this in FL.
If your sample is in the FL playlist, double click on the sample to open the channel settings. In the Precomputed effects area, toggle on reverse.
If it is in edison, press Ctrl+A on your keyboard and right click the sample. Select tools from the pop up menu, navigate to the Time sub-menu and click reverse.
The easiest way to change a sample’s pitch is by opening up the sample’s settings. We do this by double clicking on the sample. The pitch knob alters the pitch by cents. 100 cents is equal to one semitone. For example, if your sample was at C, and you want to move it to C#. Moving the knob +100 cents will do the trick.
The pitch knob at the top of the sample settings is set to a range of -200 cents to +200 cents.
You can adjust the range by clicking and dragging up or down on the Range. Using this pitch knob will also affect the length of your sample in the playlist.
To preserve your sample length, navigate to the time stretching section and toggle the pitch knob. The pitch knob here has a limit of 1200 cents. This means you can move the pitch of the sample up or down by an entire octave.
Remember to select auto mode. Auto mode selects the best formant preservation algorithm for your sample. e3 mono works great for vocals and monophonic signals.
The sample may also not fit the desired tempo. In this case, use the time knob to fix this. You can right click on the time knob and fit the sample to the bars.
Another way to alter the pitch is by using the Time stretch/pitch shift tool in the audio editor(edison). Click on the clock icon in the editor or press Alt+T.
Pitch coarse allows you to change the pitch by semitones. Fine lets you change the pitch in cents.
To preserve the formant of the sample, select the ‘e3 generic’ method. Then click on ‘copy from pitch’ to match the settings in the Factor coarse from the formant section to the Pitch coarse in the Amount tab. For example, if your pitch coarse is set to +3, adjust the pitch crs in the formant section to +3.
This, in my opinion, is one of the best additions to modern day DAWs. In FL studio, doing this is easy and as always, there’s more than one way to do it.
Load an instrument on the channel rack and let’s start the magic.
Load your sample into the audio editor. Click on the wrench icon to access the tools menu.
Scroll to the analysis tab, select ‘Convert to score and Dump to piano roll’.
The audio editor will analyze the sample and place a midi pattern in the selected instrument on the channel rack. You can go in and edit the notes. Edison published the notes with pitch data and velocities.
This is the sauce. You can hum your melody ideas, record them into edison and get right to editing the midi on your instrument of choice.
The 2nd method involves using NewTone. To start, open the FL studio Mixer.
Add an instance of NewTone to an empty slot.
Load your sample into Newtone. You can do this by dragging and dropping your audio into the Newtone interface or by selecting ‘edit in pitch corrector’ from the pop up menu when you right click on the waveform in the sample settings.
NewTone will analyze the audio and generate midi notes. If you need to edit the notes, you can move them around as you see fit.
To export the midi, click on the save icon and select ‘save as MIDI’. This will export your midi file and save it to your specified location in the file explorer.
You can now load the midi file into the piano roll of any instrument on your channel rack.
Right click on the instrument to open the piano roll.
Click on the drop down button at the top right of the piano roll. Navigate to File>Import MIDI file.
Navigate to the midi file in the file explorer and click open to import the midi pattern into the piano roll.
The easiest place to start chopping your sample is the FL studio playlist.
Simply click on the razor icon and slice the sample. You can move the sliced pieces and rearrange them.
If you want to make unique effects for different slices of the sample, click on the icon at the top right of your sample slice, select ‘make unique as sample’.
For more creative chops, Slicex and Fruity Slicer are the plugins for you. They are native FL plugins, so you may not need to pay extra to use them. These plugins auto slice the audio into chops that can be played from your midi controller. They pretty much work the same with a few differences. Fruity Slicer is a small brother to Slicex. Same thing, fewer features.
Add an instance of Fruity Slicer or Slicex on the channel rack.
Drag and drop your sample onto the plugin interface.
The plugin will analyze and auto slice the sample into chops. The default chops will be cut by the transients. Here is where the key difference is. In Slicex, you can move the markers to edit the cut regions. In Fruity Slicer, you are stuck with the cuts you get, depending on the algorithm you choose.
You can change the cut algorithm in Fruity slicer by clicking on the razor icon.
In Slicex, you can do this by right clicking on the razer and marker icon.
Slicex is made for those who want to make custom chops. It is highly customizable and can yield amazing results if used well.
How you use your sample is purely dependent on your style. You can play the sample like an instrument by adding it on an audio channel in the channel rack. Click on the + icon and select ’audio clip’.
Click on the audio clip to open up the channel settings. Drag and drop your sample on the sample settings.
An easier way to do this would be to just drag and drop your sample from the FL studio browser to the channel rack. I totally recommend this method because it lets you edit the attack and release times of the sample in the sample settings.
This method works best when you have instrument and vocal one shots. Changing the sample pitch using this method is easy. You just play different midi keys to hear the sample in a different pitch.
One drawback is that the sample will play from start to finish every time. This may cause some unpleasant layering especially if you just want the sample to play according to the length of your notes in the piano roll.
To fix this, double click on the audio channel. Navigate to the Envelope settings. Turn the hold knob to the max and turn the attack, decay, sustain and release knob to 0. I mostly use this on my 808 samples so that I can control the tail of the 808 from the piano roll.
Fruity loops is one of the best DAWs for hip hop producers. Sampling is a big part of hip hop and FL studio is tailored to meet those needs. Add some effects like Grossbeat, reverb and delay to add style to your sample chops. There’s more tips and tricks about chopping samples here.
Slicex is the best option for chopping samples. Its array of features are unmatched. What we’ve covered today is purely the tip of the iceberg. As you make more beats and practice more, you’ll find more interesting ways and techniques to sample in FL.