Learn How To Chop A Sample To Fill Up Space

Sample chopping can be tough at times, especially for beginners who have no idea what they’re doing. We’ve all been there, but there are certain samples that are hard to chop because they won’t fit into the amount of time we need. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how you can chop a part of the sample to fill up space.

The Sample

I have a piano sound that I want to fit along with my drums, but the sample is too short, so what should I do? Chop it! I often see producers using effects to get the desired result, but we all know that once you start relying on effects, it can muddy up your track, or make you lose control of your workflow. I find it’s much better to chop a sample and mess with the small bits in order to achieve what you want.

I would like to have the piano sound fit into 2 bars, but the piano only fits about 1 bar. In order to make it fit, I have a few options:
Time stretch
Reverb
Delay
Chop
Time stretch is great because it makes it easy. Even though time stretch is a great tool, it’s not always ideal because some samples just won’t sound good after being stretched.

Reverb could work but you would have to put lots of it on top of the sample in order to fill up the space, but it still won’t do the job because the piano sample is still short.

Delay could work because you could take the end part of the piano sound and add delay, which would fill up the space. The problem is that you could end up with an undesired sounding effect.

Chopping is the way to go. When Maschine (my weapon of choice) introduced time stretching in their latest software update, it was a welcomed addition, but I still rarely use it. I prefer to chop to fill the gaps.

Chopping

With the piano sample, chop off the end part, (probably about a quarter of the sample), then copy & paste it right at the end of the piano sample. What you now have is a piano note that is now filling up the entire space that we need. The tricky part is trying to mask it!

a1sx2_Original1_chopping1

There are numerous ways that you can cover up what you just did. You could crossfade between the two chops, fade in/out of each chop, or just leave them as is. The reason why you could leave it like that is because you will have other music along with it, like your drums, bass, and whatever else you add, so the chops you just made won’t be so prominent to the listener. I’ve had scenarios where I made about six chops in order to get the desired effect and it didn’t sound like it was chopped at all. In those scenarios, I used crossfading, but there are times when nothing is needed at all.

Other Options

You don’t have to just chop and add it to the end of the sample. You could do other tricks as well, such as:
Chop, copy & paste, then reverse the chop
Chop, copy & paste, then pitch the chop up or down
Chop into many pieces then rearrange the pieces until they all fit within the bar
I’ve used all of those tricks, but actually the one that I’ve used the most is chopping the sample into many pieces. The reason why is because if I chop a sample into, let’s say, eight pieces, I now have eight different sounds, so to speak. I can now places each piece wherever I want, creating an entirely different sample arrangement, but the beauty of it is that I can paste certain pieces a few times. I could piece #3 and paste it a few times. It can be time consuming and frustrating at times, but sometimes you can come up with some really good sounding pieces of music, you’d be surprised.

a1sx2_Original1_chopping2

Reversing the chop is a cool trick because it’s a simple way of filling up the space you need, plus it adds something different to your sample since it’s a small part of the piano that is in reverse. Depending on your beat, what other sounds you have, and what you want it to sound like, throwing in a reversed chop can give you something nice.

Pitching the chop up or down is another technique that I’ve used a lot, especially pitching down. If you increase the pitch, well then your chop will be short, which means you’ll have to paste it a few more times to fill up the space. Pitching it down though, can make it sound unique and also make your job much easier. There are times when you chop a sample, then copy & paste, but you still haven’t filled up the space. Pitching down the chop (or a few of them) will slow down the sound, plus it will most likely give you a dope sound to mess with. For Hip Hop beats, samples that have been pitched down can open up lots of options for your beat.

Conclusion

As I mentioned, you could use effects, but I think it’s always best to master the world of chopping first, instead of relying on plug-ins or effects. By chopping your samples in these ways, it not only fills up the space you need it to, it can also give you a few unexpected results. You will also feel good, knowing that you chopped, cut, diced, and rearranged little bits of a sample to create something special. Start chopping!

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