Sound Packs – A Detailed Guide

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Everyone knows the hit hip-hop song “Paper Planes” by British singer MIA that was all over the charts in 2008. But still, many don’t know that what you hear is one of the greatest sample works. At the song’s start, the guitar riff is actually a riff sampled from the song “Straight To Hell” by British punk-rock band The Clash.

The practice of sound sampling isn’t new; it certainly wasn’t created today. It has a specially long history in the hip-hop genre, which developed to solve a problem that music producers faced. It started from music producers in the hip-hop industry not having access to a full studio, but them not letting this get in their way of creating music, came up with a solution. A solution we now know as sound sampling.

So what is Sound Sampling?

Sound sampling is simple. Imagine you hear a song, and there’s a specific bit in the song that stands out to you. It can even be two seconds of a piano or a guitar chord. What these music producers did was they took those two seconds, and they played it on a loop and added more instruments to it, creating their sound. That’s sound sampling for you in a nutshell. And that is precisely what MIA did with the riff of “Straight To Hell.”

However, sound sampling isn’t limited to chords and riffs. It can be any sound. Anything you hear, anything that makes a sound, can be turned and sampled into your unique music creation. From the clicks of a computer mouse to the sounds of footsteps, you can sample it all! In MIA’s “Paper Planes,” you hear a great example of this. There’s more than one sample in that song. Those gunshots and the “cha-ching!” sound of the cash registers are sampled as well.

Nowadays, producers make their own sound packs. They create their own melody, which contains instruments like piano, guitar, drums, and synths. They use those snippets into their other tracks, creating something entirely new and different, so basically, they sample themselves.

Different Types of Sound Packs:

There are numerous sound packs available on the internet today. Any and everything you can think of, there’s a sample available for it, and they come in different shapes, sizes, and styles. There is a massive collection of SFX, which is primarily for sound effects like crowd noise, footsteps, walking on grass, and other everyday things you hear. You can use them in your music creation, but they are mainly used for film/video production. For this article, we are going to stick to sound packs for music.

The most widely used sound sample elements are guitars, pianos, drums, rhythms, strings, basslines, drum loops, and vocal hooks. These elements are chopped, sped up, slowed down, layered, repitched, looped, or manipulated in other methods as needed. With the rapid growth of technology, sound sampling is ever-evolving with endless possibilities.

Instrumental Sound Packs:

The most common type of sound packs is instrumental. They are basic and focus on one instrument, like pianos, guitars, or violin. If you’re looking to create an orchestral track or spicing up your electronic track, you can add in samples of violins or flutes to give it more of a kick. Or what a simple technique is creating your own beats around a sampled piano piece.

Vocal Sound Packs:

Vocals are one of the most essential parts of a track and a complicated one. Vocals can take your track to the next level. Sample packs for vocals are getting increasingly popular with the growing demand. In the past, they’ve proved difficult to work with, but now they’re quite easy to use. When you think of vocals, don’t restrict your imagination to wordings, there’s abstract vocalizing that’s pretty common in the electronic genre today.

Drum Sound Packs:

Hip-hop and rap producers love drum kits or drum sound packs. The reason for this comes from their high adaptability. The key reason for their popularity is that most hip-hop or rap tracks vocal-driven songs that are created around a basic progression style, so drums are clean and clear-cut sounding, making more room for vocals.

Construction Kits:

If you’re just getting into using sound packs, the first thing you should learn about is construction kits. A construction kit is like a one-stop shop for sound sampling. It’s like a house lego set for music.

Imagine the different colored blocks of lego that are supposed to be pieced together to construct the house. Now it’s up to you to piece your own choice of color blocks and create your own unique house. A construction kit is very similar to this. Those colored blocks are the instrument samples. It’s a collection of pre-recorded music loops and sounds that are mixed together to create music, usually containing sample sounds of drums, bass, guitar, and keys.

There are midi, one-shots, and loop typically in a sound pack. These loops are all set in the same tempo, key, and chord progression. You just have to mix and match to make your sound. It’s as easy as that.

Loops, MIDI, and One-Shots?

Usually, a sound pack will contain loops, midi, or one-shots. These are commonly used terms in sound sampling, and if you’re new to these, don’t worry; we’ll tell you exactly what they are and how you can use them in your sound production.

As simple as the word suggests, Loops are a piece of sound, any sound repeatedly played until it forms a rhythmic pattern. You can use this technique very easily. Pick any chord of your liking and play it on loop, and see what it does. 

MIDIs are a bit different. The acronym stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. They are patterns that you load onto the music software you’re using. They aren’t any instrument or any particular sound; they are like a progression that you can use across all kinds of instruments. It’s basically a template that knows what time and speed to play your instrumental sounds at.

One-shots are one-off sounds that could have a significant impact on the overall composition of your track. Think of a piano stab or a sound like a bang; that’s what one-shots are. They are pretty popular in the hip-hop genre, and they’re not loops or drums in the traditional sense, and they don’t particularly need to be melodious.

Music production can be a complicated and perplexing new business for those who are just getting started. Most people are afraid of not producing what they need on a track, and that’s where the use of sound packs is so important. Keeping music producers’ passion alive and not letting them get discouraged, it’s safe to say that the practice of sound sampling and the massive opportunity created by sound packs is doing a tremendous job of bringing new and fresh art into the music industry.

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