The Cosmopolitan Life of a Sample

I have a silly way of doing drums. Really. There are only some very thin justifications for why someone would trigger their drum samples out of a hacked hardware synth.

But it seems I can’t get enough of cramming by SL-ed Blofeld full of sample goodness, painfully saving presets for each variation, and slowly piecing drum multi’s together. Surely half the sensible world has gone and bought Battery, and is dancing in the land of flexibility, cut groups, pre-mapped kits, no noise floor, slicers, and generally integrated drum-relevant features that help a guy make a beat. But not this guy. He sure is stubborn.

The one thing on my side is those JLM preamps and Lynx converters, adding their sweet sauce on the way in. But then I got to thinking about the life of some of my favourite samples, where they’ve been already.

Take for example a tasty 909 kick I unashamedly enjoy. Under the careful watch of Goldbaby’s wizardry, this started it’s life in New Zealand from some Japanese electronics, jiggling it’s warmth through a Metric Halo interface and onto a hard drive. It was then sent across the world to be cut into vinyl on a UK Plate Lathe. This vinyl was sent back to New Zealand to be captured again via a vintage 70’s record player through a restored phono preamp from the 60’s – back through the Metric Halo and onto the hard drive one more time. Then, I purchased it across the Tasman Sea (presumably) via satellites, promptly selecting it from it’s peers to be (slowly) rammed into the hacked Japanese sample ram of my German digital Waldorf synth. I then send it on it’s final journey through those mathematical algorithms and analog summing mixer, through the JLM’s and Lynx converters, and finally into mine own hard drive, where it faithfully holds together my beat.

This little audio file (audiophile?) has done more travelling than most of us, and has seen all kinds of processing in it’s short life. It is a little arrogant of me to think that my reckless decisions at the end of the line will suddenly make or break it? Perhaps it is.

So, then why do I do it?

Because I do. For no real reason, I like to do it, and despite the hassle it ‘feels’ better.

Now let’s read that sentence again, and marvel at how wonderful music is. Give that reason at any other day job and you are on probation. You would have to be. But that’s how I make most of my decisions with Birds in Branches.

What a blessing is art to otherwise rational lives.

PS- if you read this far down intrigued about why there is a wooden spoon on my blofeld in the picture, the short story is it’s because I don’t own a drumstick. Obviously….


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