Sampling on the MPC | Elan Stouffer | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

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

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.

      Recording Your Sample


    • 3.

      Trimming and Normalizing


    • 4.

      Divide and Conquer: Part 1


    • 5.

      Divide and Conquer: Part 2


    • 6.

      Creating a Program


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Sampling is one of the fundamental features of the legendary Akai MPC Sampler/Sequencer, and a defining characteristic of Hip Hop production. This class will teach students the basics along with some tips and tricks I’ve learned throughout 10 years of MPC-based music production in the context of Hip Hop. 

This class is geared towards students that already have some basic experience with music production and want to grow their sampling skills. 

This class will cover:

  • Recording a sample
  • Processing a sample
  • Chopping/slicing a sample
  • Building a program from your sample

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Elan Stouffer

Music Producer, UX Researcher, Photographer


Originally from Los Angeles and currently residing in Brooklyn. I am a music producer, photographer and UX Researcher, excited to share some of the skills I've picked up along the way.

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: sampler is a piece of music production gear that allows you to digitally record, manipulate and play back small segments of sound. So back in the day, the original purpose of samplers was to record instruments to be played back on a keyboard . Hip hop producers leverage samplers in a different way, recording small segments of full songs from records manipulating those to make beats for rappers. My name is Ilan. I've been using the MPC to make beats for 10 years. Today I'm gonna be teaching you had a sample and set up a program for the MPC specifically in the context of hip hop. I'm gonna show you a few tips and tricks that I use when I'm making beats. This classes for students that already have some background music production. You definitely don't have to be an expert, but you do need to know your way around the basics for your project. I'm gonna be providing a sample and using the techniques you learned in my class today, they're gonna chop up that sample and make just a sketch for demo of a rough beat. It doesn't have to be fully produced. It could just be like a simple loop back in the late eighties and nineties, sampling was King. Think of your favorite rapper producer from that era. What were their beats like when I started making beats? Some of my favorite producers were heavily sample based from D. J Premier to Dr Dre to Pete Rock to J Zone. When you upload your beach, tell me a little bit about why you chose to flip the sample the way that you did what went into your process. The most important thing is how you chop the sample and what you did with the slices after you're done. 2. Recording Your Sample: all right, so our first step is recording the sample. So sampling is really just a technical term for recording digital audio for further manipulation in the context of music production so you can record and sample pretty much anything with analog or digital output. You can record video game consuls, cassette players. VCR's pretty much anything that has analog or digital audio output. But today, since we're keeping it super hip hop, we're gonna be sampling from records sampling from this record. Attila, Meena, this is an Italian record I picked up at a record store in San Francisco a few years ago and I just saw this cover and it was like tripping me out. I knew, like I had to check out what was on here. We're gonna just put on one of these one of the records and see what we can come up with. Sampling on the MPC is pretty straightforward. You just press mode and then go to record mode. You want to make sure that your input is set to analog and that your monitor is on, which is gonna let you hear what's playing before you press record. The most important thing when you're recording a sample is to make sure that the levels are peaking. So you want to make sure these peak indicators stay away from the edge on the right side. Here. If I turn up the input, you can see it gets louder. So this is what you want to avoid. And if it is too loud to begin with, you can always reset the peak by pressing F one. So let's bring that back and start from the beginning. You know, work. It's okay to start recording before the sample plays, because we can clean that up later. Okay, so I was pretty happy with that take. So we're gonna go ahead and keep the sample with F five. 3. Trimming and Normalizing: Now that we've recorded our sample, we're gonna want to go the trim screen. So press mode, we had six. You can see sample. One is what we just recorded on. The first thing we want to do is trim the fat. So if you remember, I started recording before the music actually started playing. So we want to get rid of that part. So using the arrow keys, you can actually make the amplitude of the wave form bigger or smaller. That's gonna help you see it. You can also use the zoom in and zoom out buttons to zoom in on the way for him, Get more precise. So I want to get rid of this part of silence in the beginning. So using the start point, I'm gonna set that with my job. Will. Once I start getting close to the beginning of the sample, I often use pad one to start playing it to get both audio and visual. Few bet you don't want to rely on just one of the other. Okay, that sounds good. So now let's get the endpoint set. So I just scroll over to the end point. I can see already that this is a little bit further than I wanted to go. But you can use pets 14 and 15 to hear just the end of the sample selection. So if you zoom out, you can see is just playing this in part. You press pat 15. It plays after the end point. So I want to stop by right about here. Do you you like? So once you have your start point endpoints set, then you're gonna go to edit and discard. So if you've ever edited photos, the discard function is basically the same as cropping. It keeps everything in your selection and gets rid of everything outside of it. It's now have a nice, solid, precise sample. The next thing we want to do is normalize the sample. Normalizing basically makes the loudest point of the sample without distorting, so it makes the sample as loud as it could be without making it distort. So if you go to edit scroll to normalize, I usually set my level to about 70 just to get myself a little bit of extra headroom so it doesn't distort later on in the mix. So once we've discarded, normalized our sample. Now we're ready to start chopping 4. Divide and Conquer: Part 1: Okay, so we recorded our sample, we processed it. Now here's where things start to get fun. We're gonna start chopping up the sample, so chopping just means taking your main sample and literally chopping it up into little pieces that you can use to make your beat. The MPC makes this really easy. First thing we want to do is press F five for chop. Second thing we want to do is press F three for slice. MPC calls each of these little chops slices so every one of these is a slice. Once you press F three for slice, you can decide how many slices you want. Since most popular Western music is based in fours, a very common method is to make some product of four. So right now said to 16 which would give you a little 16th notes. The method we're going to use takes a little bit longer but is also more flexible. I call it divide and conquer. So with the curse there still on slices, you want to set that to to using the scroll wheel. Basically, with divide and conquer, we're gonna divide the sample in tow half divide that division and 1/2 so on and so forth until we have the precise sample that we want. So let's go to the first sample using your arrows. Zoom in a bit. Now let's divide again. So now that we have, like, a little bit of a smaller sample, we can start using our years to figure out how we want those samples to be is totally up to you. So already know that I just want a little bit of that that was playing. So I'm gonna divide again because I was already too long. Scroll back to the first sample press play again. Okay? And while you're playing, you can also use Pat nine toe loop, the sample. So using my ears, I can see I can already hear that. That's not quite the length that I want. So now I'm going to zoom in using my arrows. I'm gonna move to the end point, make this sample little bit shorter, so just kind of using my ears. I'm already hearing. That's about the length that I want. I'm just gonna scroll until the sample is that length that I was just playing. That's pretty good. You can see here. It kind of starts a little bit late. You can hear it too. I'm gonna worry about that later. So now I'm gonna use my arrow button to go to the second slice. You can see this much bigger than the first slice. So I'm just gonna use the end point to make that smaller. Some zoom in, get that point a little bit more precise. And each slice you'll notice the endpoint for one slice is the same as a start point for the next one. So you can actually kind of set both of them using just one control. You see, I'm just constantly kind of playing these samples and getting that audio feedback as I go along. So the first and second samples second slices there about where I want them. I'm gonna go the 3rd 1 Okay, so I'm at the the start point of my third slice right now. Okay, so there's, like, two little guitar knows one is right at the beginning That another guitar note comes in right after that. I want those to be two separate slices, so I'm gonna shorten up this sample right now. Make it a little bit more manageable so I can see the whole thing on the screen at once. I'm going to zoom in divide again. It's not have to really short samples, so I want this to be split into two. Basically, I'm gonna use the endpoint to set the endpoint so you can see using this divide and conquer method. You can make all kinds of different samples of different lengths, as opposed to. If I just cut into 16 equal parts, that gives me a lot less flexibility. So I just want those two guitar notes for this slice. We'll set that end point. Will the shorter so actually accidentally had it on the start point? But it's no big deal. We could just fix that. You'll notice. I'm jumping back and forth between two slices that are next to each other a lot so that it helps me hear whether the end of one sample is actually containing the beginning of the next one I want or not. So if I said that point a little bit too far from here at the beginning of that next slice starting already, so I know I can dial that back a bit 5. Divide and Conquer: Part 2: Okay, so right now I have about four sample set up. So we still have this one really big slice at the end. We're gonna divide that again, make it a little bit more easy to work with. You're good. So just using my ears. I can already hear that this is this sample is starting a little bit too early. So that little part in the beginning I want I want toe. Get rid of that in this slice, so I'll start the end point a little bit later, OK? Zune mountain. We'll divide again, then jump back to the small. The first half of that division make this division smaller, using my endpoint so I can kind of see where I want this slice toe happen again. The next slice. So I'm gonna divide it. Use my start point to go to this. Wait. This peak right here and now I'm gonna use my ears to make sure is precise, and you'll notice that I'm using these buttons to zoom in and out constantly as I'm going through this and using the arrow keys to jump from the different slices which you can see up here. They're the region. So right now I'm on reason or slice five by press a robot in once, it's going to jump me back to the start point. Now, if I press the arrow button again, it's going to go to the next slice over, which is region for so I'm just kind of constantly using the arrows to jump back and forth between slices to compare the start and end points of each one and zooming in and out So I can hear that little guitar strum at the end of this slice. I want that to be the beginning of the next life. Okay, that's good. So I'm gonna go toe region six for the sixth slice so you can kind of see here in the way for this is where the cord starts. So I'm probably gonna make that new slice, so zoom out a bit. Divide. Then I can set the start point kind of closer to that peak. Now I'm gonna zoom in again, get a little bit more precise. Okay, That sounds good. Scroll over to the next reason. Seven and I will go back to the start point of Region seven. Zoom out a bit divide again. Again. You can hear kind of here that guitar strong at the end of this slice. I want that to be a new sample new slice. So I'm gonna move that endpoint up. So using my eyes, I can kind of see it looks like it's about right. But if you listen, you can hear just a tiny bit of the guitar strum at the end of that. So that's how I know that it's not quite right. Keep bringing the endpoint up a little bit more. Sounds good. Divide again. Divide now with all these different slices on the screen, kind of jumping back and forth between all of them. It's starting to get a little crowded, a little complicated now, So that's why you have to really rely on your ears to kind of hear where you are in the sample You . - So when I'm using the samples and chopping him up, I like toe. Have each slice be the beginning of a new sound. So you're kind of listening for those as you're going through it, and you can kind of just decide how you want to chop it as you go along. There's no rules. So now the this sample is basically comprised of the same loop playing twice already. Cut the first loop into all these little pieces. So now maybe for the second time, it repeats. I'm gonna do longer pieces. So I don't have the same exact slices for each time sub Divide that in half to fight again. So we saw from the way form that wasn't quite right. I adjusted that. But we always want to use our ears to double check. Divide again. Set the start point soon, men. Kind of here where I want the next slice to be. Now just divide again and find that that starting point. So, men, you can see this right at the end that I need to clean up a little bit. Way sounds good for the next one way. Divide said that starting point. Usually I like to just bring the starting point to some kind of arbitrary peak in the wave . And then I come back later and use my ears to get it precisely where I want it. So here, you can see a big peak here. I'm gonna divide it and kind of make it start around there. See if that. Now, listen to see if it sounds right more. Okay, So I've gotten the sample Teoh all sliced up and chopped up like I want. Now. You can kind of go through and scroll through the sample in the different slices. So if you put the cursor on the reason you just use your arrows toe, use the right arrow to go the next one. Cool. So you can see here that I have 25 samples. Now that we have all our slices assembled, we're ready to put them into a program. 6. Creating a Program: now that you have all your slices or chops set up, next thing we want to do is turn it into a program. So program is what assigns each sample to the pad unless you start playing with samples to make some music. So you want to go ahead and press F six for edit and then F to convert to slice samples so that what that is going to do is automatically put each slice on its own pad into a new program. Does it all automatically So F. Two. We want to set our release. I usually for hip hop. I usually like to set the release to either zero or maybe like, really known low number, like three or four. Basically, release kind of lowers the volume at the end of playing the sample automatically for you. Makes just makes it a little bit smoother, but for hip hop, you don't want a too smooth, so I'll put my release it. Three. Scroll down, create new program. Yes, that's what we want to do. Then press F five for do it. Okay, so if you press main to go back to the main screen, you can see that our new sample, Our new program was created from Sample one. The program is called sample one. So the MPC it just automatically created this program. Now you have your samples of science, all the pads. Okay, so now we want to press the window button with the program selected. We want press the window button to go into that program. I'm gonna show you a few little tips on setting up your program. So, press mode, then press pat seven to a program. So now we're in our program. You can see all these slices are set up to each pad. So pat a one bank a pad, one set toe slice. 1234 So on so forth, that does it sequentially. So the first thing we want to do is make sure that your program is set to mono. So motto means that none of the samples in your program can overlap each other. So you start playing one sample. If you play another sample while that samples still playing, it's gonna cut it off. So none of the samples are ever gonna play at the same time. Now for some music. Sometimes you'd want a layer samples on top of each other for hip hop. In particular, producers don't really layer samples from the same record on top of each other. Now they do layer samples from different records, so you might have the baseline from one record layered on top of the drums from another record layer on top of like strings from another. But for this one sample that we just set up, we don't want them to overlap in your playing back. We want them to cut each other off. Okay, so I said that to mano, If you go press F two to go Teoh amplitude, then you can make sure that all your samples air set. It's either one shot or if you scroll to note on. So the difference here is one shot you just tap a pad is gonna play the whole sound. If I scroll the scroll wheel to set it to note on, then it's only gonna play the sound while you're holding down the pet. Mm. So it's really up to you how you want to set up your program. You might want to set them all to one shot. You might want to set all the past to note on, or you might want to decide based on each pad how you want to set it up to give yourself more flexibility. The other thing we want to do is scroll over to the next column voice. And as you can see here, there's also options for mono or poly so similar to the program that you can set to mono or poly. Setting a pad to Mono Poly just allows MPC every time you hit the pad. If it was set to Polly, the sample would just layer and play on top of it itself. If you said it to mono every time you press, that pad is going to start the sample over again. So I prefer having the pat said Tamano just sounds a little bit cleaner. It's a little bit more traditional for hip hop so you can go through. You just want to set all your pads the way you want. So when you're setting up a program little shortcut that you can use, hold down the shift button. Then while you're still holding down shift press F six for all and now you can modify all the pads at the same time. So instead of going through each pad and setting it toe mano one by one, I can set them all tamano at the same time. It's not have my sample set up like I want. You can jump in tow, kind of playing around with them, trying to come up with some ideas for a beat. So usually just kind of sit with the program. Just kind of play around until until I hear something that kind of strikes my ears. So it's kind of interesting, like my hands are kind of doing one thing and the ears air hearing everything, but they're kind of disconnected. Sometimes I'll just kind of playing around and then I'll hear something that I just played and we'll catch my attention. I'll be like, Okay, that was kind of dope, and that's kind of like the start of an idea, and then I'll record. But this is where your creativity comes in. You can start playing around with samples and just kind of figure out how you want to use them. So we have Bank A selected, so if you remember ahead like over 20 slices, so one through 16 is on Bank A press bank. Be then I have a few more. That's about it. From here, you can make your beat.