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Advanced Topics 1

Sample Slicing

Let’s take a step back and take a look at samples again. Watch the video below to understand how the playback of a looping sample behaves.

It shows the playback of the :loop_amen sample with the following code:

sample :loop_amen

Now let’s make a live_loop that keeps playing the beat for us. Do you remember the option beat_stretch for the sample command that alters the pitch of the sample to match the desired length in beats? We introduced it briefly in the chapter “Tweak the sounds”. Next we’re going to use it to stretch the sample loop_amen to 4 beats and keep looping it:

use_bpm 145

live_loop :drumloop do
  sample :loop_amen, beat_stretch: 4
  sleep 4
end

Next we’re going to take a look how you can play parts of the Amen loop in a different order. With the sample command you can set a different starting and ending point for the sample by using parameters start and finish. Both of the parameters accept values between 0 and 1 indicating the starting and finishing points of the sample playback. For example: 0 is the beginning of the sample, 0.5 is the midpoint of the sample and 1 is the ending point of the sample. Let’s try it in action with the following example:

use_bpm 145

live_loop :drumloop do
  sample :loop_amen, beat_stretch: 4, start: 0, finish: 0.125
  sleep 0.5
  sample :loop_amen, beat_stretch: 4, start: 0, finish: 0.125
  sleep 0.5
  sample :loop_amen, beat_stretch: 4, start: 0.5, finish: 0.75
  sleep 1
  sample :loop_amen, beat_stretch: 4, start: 0.25, finish: 0.5
  sleep 1
  sample :loop_amen, beat_stretch: 4, start: 0.75, finish: 0.875
  sleep 0.5
  sample :loop_amen, beat_stretch: 4, start: 0.25, finish: 0.375
  sleep 0.5
end

The video below (created with the help of Simpler in Ableton Live) visualizes what parts of the loop_amen sample are being played in each run of live_loop:

Now isn’t it fun to play different parts of the sample in a completely different order? Try experimenting with options for the command sample. For example, adding an option rate: -1 to one of the loop_amen hits makes it play backwards.

One sample can be sculpted into almost anything once you start experimenting with the sample options (such as rate, pan, amp, attack, release, start and finish). The following example uses these options with randomized values to play unique microsounds from two samples:

use_bpm 180

with_fx :reverb, mix: 0.2, room: 1 do
  live_loop :grain1 do
    s = rrand(0, 0.7)
    t = rrand(0.03, 0.3)
    e = s + t
    a = rrand(0.5, 1.0)
    sample :guit_e_fifths, rate: -1.5, start: s, finish: e, attack: t/6.0, sustain: t/2.0, pan: rrand(-0.5, 0.5)
    sleep t
  end

  live_loop :grain2 do
    s = rrand(0, 0.7)
    t = rrand(0.03, 0.2)
    e = s + t
    a = rrand(0.5, 1.0)
    sample :guit_em9, rate: 1.5, start: s, finish: e, attack: t/6.0, sustain: t/2.0, pan: rrand(-0.5, 0.5)
    sleep t
  end
end

This technique is also widely used in granular samplers and synthesizers.