If you’re an aspiring DJ or create your own music, sampling is one way to add dimension to your tunes. It’s thought that sampling goes back as far as the early 60’s when James Tenney sampled ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ by Elvis Presley. The Beatles were one of its early pioneers but it wasn’t until Rap music came along that the technique really became widespread.
In those days, sampling was an expensive process involving multi-track suites and lots of studio time. Nowadays you can start sampling in seconds for free with a multitude of different software. There’s nothing more annoying than when you want to sample a great bassline or beat but there’s a vocal track over it. The brilliant Vocal Remover is a simple plugin for Winamp which solves this problem in seconds. The plugin isolates the vocal track and with a simple slidebar, you can reduce the volume of the vocals to the level you want or eliminate it entirely. However, the results vary according to the track you’re sampling and so if you need something a bit more powerful (and are prepared to spend some time learning how to use it) then Reaktor is a powerful editing suite that can sample just about anything and enrich it with effects.
If you’ve got a massive collection of vinyl, then you can also sample these too. Although it can’t sample directly, RIP Vinyl allows you to record your vinyl in digital format and from there, you can sample the tracks in a program like Reaktor. Spin It Again does the same job but also allows you to grab cassette recordings too.
Bear in mind though that if you’re intending to use your sampling for commercial gain, you must be very careful who or what you sample. A useful reference for this kind of thing is the Sampling Law website which gives some useful advice on this often grey area. In addition, if you’re interested to find out from which song the samples used in your favourite songs came from, check out the Second Hand Songs database.