Produce Music Like the Pros: Sample any Sound with FL Studio | Dom McLennon | Skillshare

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Produce Music Like the Pros: Sample any Sound with FL Studio

teacher avatar Dom McLennon, Producer, Recording Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Defining a Sample


    • 3.

      Sampling and Time Stretching


    • 4.

      Chopping a Sample


    • 5.

      Finishing Your Beat


    • 6.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Produce unforgettable tracks with the power of sampling. 

Dom McLennon’s journey to becoming a musician and producer started out in the same way a lot of other creative’s journeys do: letting passion and curiosity drive his exploration. What started out as creating beats with his younger cousin just for fun turned into a spot in the hugely influential and successful hip hop collective, Brockhampton. Today, Dom’s music has gained him hundreds of millions of plays and over 200K followers across social media.  

With years of experience as a professional producer, Dom is looking forward to sharing how you can add depth and variety to your tracks through sampling. Created for beginner music producers in mind, this class will give you all of the tools you need to time stretch, chop, and rearrange your sample for a truly memorable final sound. 

With Dom as your teacher, you’ll:

  • Learn what a sample is and how to use it
  • Align a sample to your track using time stretching and pitch manipulation
  • Cut up and arrange your sample using patterns like “cut and repeat”
  • Finish your piece and export it to share it with the world

Plus, you’ll get access to downloadable tracks from a collective of local musicians, which you can use to sample in your own song. 

Whether you’re producing your first-ever song or looking to compose a song with the help of a pro, you’ll leave this class with a fully finished track and the skills you’ll need to take your music production career to the next level. 

You don’t need any musical experience to take Dom’s class. All you’ll need is a computer and a DAW as well as an audio interface and mini controller if you’d like to push your sound even further. If you already have some of these tools, you can follow along with Dom. If not, you can use this class to decide which digital music production equipment and accessories you might want to use as you refine your sound. To continue your learning about music production, explore Dom’s full Digital Music Production Learning Path.

Meet Your Teacher

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Dom McLennon

Producer, Recording Artist

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Sampling is a very integral component to the part of hip hop. There's many different ways that it can be approached and achieved. We're still discovering new ways that sampling can work to this day. My name is Dom McLennon, I'm a musician and multi-instrumentalist. You might have seen my work from the boy band Brock Hampton. I've also been behind the scenes, helping all of the musicians and producers learn more about the ways that they can express themselves as creative artists. This class about sampling is exciting for me to teach because I know that there's still much to be learned and understood about the art of sampling, the project that we're going to be doing today is we're going to be finishing your first beat. Well, that's going to entail is pulling together a lot of the things that we've been learning in Class 1 and Class 2, to be able to finish your first musical composition. What we're here to do is really get you to understand what sampling is and what sampling means and how sampling works. I hope that you'll be able to walk away with the knowledge and the understanding how sampling works, but also be able to put sounds together to make your ideas become a reality. Let's get started. 2. Defining a Sample: I figured for the beginning of this class we'd hop out of the studio a little bit. Talk a little bit about sampling. What a sample is? How a sample work inside of music composition, specifically in digital audio production? Then we'll have a moment to enjoy a original composition. Then we will sample later in the class. What we've been able to do is bring together a collection of incredible local musicians from our communities so that you can explore sampling with us inside of this Skill Share class. Let me give them a chance to introduce themselves. My name is Joel Hewitt. Most know me as Joel Baseboard. I am Tim Weisman. I am Jeremy Galloway. Anthony Carabello. Dwayne Keith. Hey. I am Jay Cattrell. What is a sample? A sample is actually a recorded piece of audio that they can be manipulated, utilized, distorted in any way, shape or form. Samples can start from things is one shots, which would be a single sound like a hit on a snare drum or they can be as intricate as full loops, patterns, rhythmic patterns, compositions, melodies, harmonies, all those types of things that you guys will be hearing a little bit later from our band. Some of the misconceptions around sampling can be that a song is a sample. Sample comes from a piece of a song or selection of a sound that then you utilize to make a new body of work. When it comes to sampling inside of digital audio production, you can start with your one-shot manipulating those to be able to create your own new soundscapes or new sound patterns. You can then listen to music that already exists in the world. Find sounds that exist within the world, compile them together and make brand new compositions and bodies of work to be able to re-contextualized the stories that you're hearing within the music. That part of sampling is really really interesting, really expressive, and sometimes a little bit controversial. where you're probably used to hearing about sampling is how songs in the past will get re-contextualized and the presents to create new stories in the future. For example how maybe like a really popular Marvin Gaye song might become part of a Kendrick Lamar song. We have Camp Lo songs that sample turns of different relics of the past and present to be able to create really really cool stories and soundscapes that might not necessarily have originally existed. Essentially in digital audio production, every sound that you put inside of your digital audio workstation is a sample. Visual audio workstations are able to create completely new character with the sounds of samples that you put inside of them. When our friends are playing their instruments, essentially, if you were to re-conceptualize that inside of a door, you'd have the stems for each of their individual audio tracks inside of your workstation. You'd be able to select between each individual one so that you can hear each individual instrument. What we're going to start doing is going through our band a little bit, showing you guys how the audio that they are creating, how the compositions, and the loops that they might make in real time could then be sampled inside of a digital audio workstation. We're going to start with our base. That would be a four-bar loop that you would put inside of your digital audio workstation, that you would then title a base loop that you can sample inside of your composition. Now, I'll show you an example of how harmony and melody guitar could be utilized. The first half of that composition would be considered a harmony, the second half would be considered a melody. You will be able to split them inside of a digital audio workstation, even though it was played in one take, to be able to identify each specific component of that composition and make something new from it. With this new vocabulary and this new understanding, we're going to have a brand new composition being made by our band that we will then be able to explore in the rest of our lessons for this class. I'm going to let the band play a song on to the next lesson. I'll see you guys there. 3. Sampling and Time Stretching: Now that we're back in the studio, what we're going to do is take a section of the recording that we got from our band earlier and put it inside of our digital audio workstation and use it as a sample. I listened to the recording, took a couple of sections of it that I thought would be great parts to use as a sample for a record. Make sure that we had some good four eight-bar loops. Now I'm going to open up FS Studio. I'm going to go inside a finder right now and open up this folder that has our Skillshare sections inside of it. I'm going to take Loop A, drag it into our digital audio workstation. Take Loop B to the entire section of the recording, these two loops together. I'm going to put it inside of the playlist view. What this does is it creates an audio clip. You'll be able to edit this as an audio file in its entirety, rather than it being just a simpler channel that has a one-shot audio sample inside of it. This gives you a little bit more control on things like time stretching, which we'll be getting into a little bit later. Now, once we have our phrase, we're going to want to listen through to it, give it a pass through, and make sure that everything is operating. I'm going to open up the audio track by clicking inside of this phrase on the channel rack where it says Phrase 1, or double-clicking on the Playlist. You can click anywhere in the waveform where it says audio clip and you'll be able to listen through your sample. Now that we know what our audio phrase sounds like and we're clear that it's inside of the digital audio workstation properly, we can go ahead and start editing it. I'm going to right-click on "Audio Clip" inside of the channel. Go to opening audio editor that will open up our onboard audio editor inside of FS Studio, which is called Edison. You'll be able to get a much better view of your waveform and have much more control over cutting it. But for now what we're going to be doing is finding the section that we want to sample. As I'm listening through to this, what I'm trying to do is get the time for the beat in my head. Then once I can start counting the beat, what we're going to do is count out a four-bar loop that we're going to cut and put into our playlist so 1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 3, 4, 4, 2, 3, 4. We know it ends around there if they want to have a four-bar loop. I'm going to start to highlight this inside of Edison and I'm going to zoom in a little bit. You can zoom in by clicking and dragging this bar that is underneath your waveform. You can get a little bit more control and view over what you have going on in here. What I'm going to be doing is looking for the transient inside of our waveform to make sure that our cut is as smooth as possible. What I'm going to do is cut into this a little bit more. That sounds pretty good to me for a cut. I'm going to turn the loop on inside of Edison now to make sure that this does loop properly. Cool. That sounds pretty smooth to me. We got a pretty nice transition between the beginning and the end of the loop. What we're going to do is now click "Drag Copy Sample Selection", which is this button right here and bring this back into our digital audio workstation. Now, as you can see when I brought the sample in and I look inside of our arrangement for our playlist is not exactly on beat for our four-bar loop. I'm going to use time stretching to make sure that this is on beat for the project that we're making. When you open up your channel, you will see this window that is right above your audio clip, the second panel above your audio clip, it's called time stretching. When you open that up, you have your pitch shifting, your time stretch multiplier, your time stretch meter. When you start clicking and dragging this, you'll see it changes the length of the loop on your playlist. It can be a one-bar loop, it could be a two-bar loop, it could be a three-bar loop, or it could be a four-bar loop. Since we know it was supposed to be a four-bar loop, we're going to bring this back to four. Another way that you can do this is you can also right-click and you have a couple of preset options. You have one beats, two beats, one bar, two bar, three bar, and four bar. But if you wanted to go beyond that, you would just use this wheel and scroll up and down on it until you see that it's on beat in the playlist. For example, this is what this sounds like at half-time, it's really stretched out. We don't want it to be that stretched out. I'm going to bring this back to four bars. Now I'm going to solo this track inside of our playlist by right-clicking it. I'm going to listen through it and see if it's on beat with our metronome. I'm going to turn the metronome on. I'm going to hit play. That's pretty on beat to me. Sometimes when you're doing a time stretching, you might have some moments where the sample that you've cut up is a little bit out of temple or out of sync, but that's part of the beauty of music making and using things like samples, because you get to have fun experimenting with the imperfections inside of these audio recordings. Cool. What we've done now is we've made a sample and we've time stretched it. We've put it inside of our playlist and we can start chopping the sample, which I think is the best place for us to get into for our next lesson. 4. Chopping a Sample: Now that we've got a side of our dar, and made a sample and time-stretched it, what we're going to do is talk about how chopping that sample would work. Sample chopping is the art of taking an audio recording, slicing it up in a couple of different places, and rearranging it to make new rhythmic, melodic, and sonic patterns. The way that chopping works is you would go inside of your digital audio workstation, and you will start to find all the different little sections inside of your sample that can maybe potentially repeat themselves or jump from one place to another. This gives you a really big range of opportunities to experiment with how you want your sound palette to feel as you're messing with the music that you're making. We're going to go ahead and open up our dar, and we're going to look at this phrase that we had before. Now that we know that this is R&B, we can look at some traditional sample chopping patterns that you might hear in some records. We'll talk a little bit more about how creative discovery works in the world of sample chopping. I am going to open up the slice tool inside of our playlist, and I'm going to cut up what we have into four different sections. You cut by clicking and dragging upward inside of your playlist, and it goes across your audio file. The same way that you would in any traditional audio editor. Now that we've had this cut up, we can start moving these things around the playlist. We can start changing the size of them, and see how we can start rearranging the way that this sample comes together through chopping. What I'm doing is I'm cutting some of these sections in half and then repeating them, and then I'm taking some of these phrases and letting them stay exactly the same way that they originally were inside of the normal way that the sample was played. But instead of them sounding that way, they sound a little bit differently where you have this little alteration coming before and after them. It's changing some things, leaving some things the same, this is where you get to have a lot of fun really manipulating your audio. What I'm going to do is add a couple more patterns in, I've shown you guys the traditional cut-and-repeat pattern that you would normally see in some of your more old-school hip-hop records. We're going to start to get a little bit more experimental with this, I'm going to show you some things that I like having fun with when it comes to this stuff, even using things like cutting the sample out entirely, almost like a rest that you would have on a regular band. I think that this is a really fun way to learn how to appreciate and re-contextualize audio as well too. I'm going to continue doing this, and I'm also going to mess with the pitch of the sound as well too, just to see where it takes us musically. The pitch manipulation is in the same place that the time stretching options were that we covered in our last lesson. One of the things that you can do with this pitch knob, is you can start to click and drag it and move around, and you'll be able to control things by the semitone on how you want your notes to sound inside of your sample. It's a really fun way to just start seeing different ways where your audio can be recontextualized. You see a lot of popular artists in the past used to use this for very specific types of sampling techniques for really creating a character for the music that they had. You would see people like Just Blaze use this on soul samples and bring the pitch up on things like that. Then you'd have even guys like Clams Casino, taking more ambient records, and alternative records and pitching them down to create these really lush and wonderful soundscapes. We'll experiment with this a little bit more. I'm having a lot of fun going ahead and just cutting this stuff up right now and messing with the pitch. This is one of my favorite parts of making music, honestly, just going in and editing the audio that I've been able to find or discover or even make myself some time. There's a lot of different ways where we can do this. You can even export the loop that you've made so far and treat that like your own sample. What I've done is I've taken every, say, two bars or so inside of our playlist and created a different phrase for how sample chopping could work. The first part is a repeating phrase. That's a simple repeating phrase, and then we have it set up so that that same phrase for the next set of bars repeats twice and then opens up for the third section. That sounds like this. Then next one does the same thing that the first pattern did, which is the duplication of the loop so it goes for a half bar two times. It's a half bar loop cut in half to make one bar. Then our next one adds a little bit more sauce and flair to it, if you will. Just going in and cutting and shifting, and manipulating specific quarter note patterns and moving them in the audio field between what already exists in our loop. That sounds like this. What I did was I cut a quarter note from the phrase that was ahead of it and put it behind. So on the upbeat, you hear the downbeat so it repeats the downbeat twice. Doubling up on the upbeat to make it part of the downbeat is a really cool way that you can use sample chopping to flip some more traditional music techniques on their head and on the air a little bit. Up next what we're gonna be doing is putting it all together inside of FL Studio. 5. Finishing Your Beat: When it comes to putting all this together, it's just a matter of thinking about all the things that we've learned so far in this class, which revolve around arrangement and production. We're going to start with where our arrangement is with the beat that we've been making. I've muted the sample that we were chopping in the previous lesson, so that we can hear our original arrangement. As we listen through, let's go ahead and take our time, make some minor adjustments, start moving some things around, maybe even repeating some phrases and changing some sections so that we can really start putting this together and making it feel like a more complete track. Right now we have this. Well, I think it's time for us to do is take the sample that we've been working with throughout the class and see if there's a way where we can make it match inside of the music that we've been making so far. We're going to put the sample back in this beat, start putting this together, see how it feels, put the time stretching that we've done originally with it before. Then I'm going to start adding some chops in, to make it match with the feeling and the texture of the sound that we've been building so far. I'm going to slice this. I'm going to duplicate this slice, put that here. Now we'll see how this sounds in the beginning. I'm going to use that phrase that we've just chopped up for our intro, I'm going to duplicate this and bring this over to the fifth bar. Now from duplicating this and bringing this over to the five bar, we've made this an eight bar loop. Not really a fan of how the chime sound with the sample. I'm going to mute that chime sample instead of completely deleting it. That way if I do want to bring it back at a later point, it's still there. Sometimes putting it all together isn't adding more to the song, it's taking a couple of things out of it. What I'm going to do is, I'm going to take a second part of this loop and start the drum pattern with that loop. That's going to sound like this. The pitch on these are different, so I got to make sure that these pictures are the same. I'm going to take this pitch, right-click it. I'm going to copy value. I'm going to open up our other loop. I'm going to right-click that pitch and go to paste value. I think that this is starting to feel like part of the beat that is the hook now. We're going from the introduction to the hook. What I'm going to do now is, I'm listening to all of our specific drum samples that we've put into our beat so far as seeing if there's anything that I can do to make some changes, to make those drums pop a little bit more. I think that our kick and our hi-hat pattern sounds pretty cool on top of this, what I want to do though is, I want to adjust what this clap sample actually sounds like. When I go through the sample inside of my drum folders, I'm going to go to my one shots. I'm going to go to more snares and claps and this is the clap that we're using originally [NOISE], but I'm going to see what other sounds that we have in here that might have some fun with. I'm going to replace the clap with another percussion sample actually. What I'm thinking that's going to do, is just bring a little bit more of an accent to the beat where the clap normally would be, but it doesn't necessarily have to draw as much attention from your ear. I'm dragging the shaker in and I'm going to see how this sounds by just bringing it over to this pattern and auditioning it. I feel like that's actually a really cool sound and I just want to add a little bit more character to it. As I've pitched that up, I'm going to bring the volume down a little bit and I'm going to add a little bit of space to it with a reverb. I feel like that's going to bring a really interesting character to the beat that we're making so far. Now what I've done is I have double-clicked our mixer track that I said was next to our pitch knob before and above our time stretching panel. When you double-click that and mix it pops up and inside our FL Studio, you've got to go inside of your slot. You're going to go to more plugins and you got to search for reverb. The FL Studio built-in reverb is titled reverb with two Es, by the way, not just one E. If you type in regular reverb and it doesn't pop up, that's the reason why. Going to see what the shaker sounds like, what this reverb on it by soloing it really quickly. I just want to see if I can get this character to sound the right way that I wanted to. Sometimes this is the way it should have to do what you have to solo a specific sound. Go ahead and make some minor adjustments to it. See how it feels to you and then once you know how that feels to you, then you'll be able to say, okay, cool, this is the one I want. [NOISE] Now that I've gotten a better idea of what this reverb sounds like, I'm going to un-solo this track again and hear what it sounds like in the context of the rest of our beat. I'm going to add one more sample in for this that I think will help put this together specifically for this hook. Sorry, I'm pattern one. I'm going to add this clave sound in. I feel like this is a really nice texture to add for where our snare should be at least. One of the important things about putting it all together is figuring out exactly what the pocket is. I think that for example, one of the things that I identified about the pocket and this beat that we're working with right now, is that it didn't necessarily need a texture that felt like a clap on top of it, it needed a texture that felt a little bit more subdued. That's why I went with our clave sample, doing things like that can really accentuate the pocket that you're trying to develop when it comes to finding the core components of what your favorite parts or the unforgettable parts of your music will be. The part of the sample that we have with this hook right now, I think what's defining the pocket a lot is the fact that there's this little guitar section from Germany where he's shredding a little bit. I'm trying to accentuate that as much as I can within the production. That's one of the reasons why I took the clap out. This is our next section. What I'm going to do is inside of this section, I'm going to put loop A in here. For loop A, I'm going to treat this like our verse since loop B is our hook. In loop A I am going to make a new drum pattern and on that new drum pattern that is going to accentuate our verse. I'm putting this new pattern in, drawing it out right now. Then what I'm going to do is, I'm going to loop this back by clicking and dragging our play point to the ninth bar and that will. Bring this altogether. Now we have our two sections of the beat. We have our hook, we have our verse. I'm going to take our hook and I'm going to duplicate it after our verse. Then we will have two sections of our beat that is repeating. After that, we can technically do this one more time with our intro at the end and that would become our outro and you have a full arrangement in the first beat that you have made inside of your digital audio workstation. When you're at a place where you feel like you're happy with the beat that you've made, you can export it by going in FL Studio, going to File, Export. Then there'll be a series of options for you here, wave file is your uncompressed. You most traditional raw file that you'd be able to send out if you want to have it a little bit more compressed and little bit more optimized, easier to share with your friends and things of that nature, you're going to want to export an MP3 file. We're going to go in here, pick wave or mp3. I'm going to pick wave for now and then I'm going to save this as, Skillshare Class 3 Beat Put Together. Then you pick your folder where you'd want to save it. This window will pop up that gives you your rendering options. You can just use the defaults for now, it's totally fine. Once you get more intricate, once you get more into how you actually want your stuff to sound, you have more autonomy on exactly how you want to export and render your tracks. But this is how you would do it. You'll hit "Start". Then when the file is complete, [NOISE] you'll hear that noise. Now you've put your stuff together. You've exported your first file. You can go ahead and play that beat back for your friends, play it in the car, put it on one of your favorite streaming platforms. Now it's time for you guys to just have some fun discovering and exploring with any loops that you can find as well as the loops that we're going to be having in our resource gallery. I'm really excited to see what you guys come up with. I'll be in the discussion boards as well too. Ask me any questions. I'm really hyped about seeing what you guys do with sampling. 6. Final Thoughts: So you made it to the end of the class. We've gone through so much today about sample composition, learning more about the history of sampling as well, and then going into our digital audio workstation, taking some of the music that we've gotten from our band, and cutting it up, making a sample out of it, and putting it together inside of your own digital audio workstation. I'm really excited to see what you guys have to offer to us. In the project gallery you guys can upload your own versions of it. If you guys have any questions for me about how I'm putting things together, I'll be in the discussion boards. Also I'll be checking the project gallery out. I'm really excited to see what you guys have for us. Really looking forward to see what you guys do with all the information that we've had in these classes, looking forward to taking you guys on another journey when it comes to musical production in the very near future. Thank you again for your time.