0.4:Working with Samples

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Samples are simply recorded audio in compressed or uncompressed form. They can be almost anything, from someone singing or playing a real instrument or an atmospheric recorded effect to the sound of a hand-clap, drum beat or percussion hit. Samples can be used in three fundamental ways - either played as a sound in their own right, played as an instrument, or played as percussion. You can find some links to useful resources here: Useful resources.

LMMS comes with ready to use samples, divided into folders. Just press the sample-button on the Side Bar.


File formats

Your sound files can be in a number of formats:

  • Lossless (large):
    • WAV - Microsoft WAVe format
      • The community has reported problems with lossless uncompressed wave-files.
    • AIFF - Audio Interchange File Format
    • AU - AUdio file format
    • FLAC - Free Lossless Audio Compression
    • RAW PCM samples in a file.
  • Lossy (compact):
    • Ogg - Open wavelet compression format
    • MP3 - Layer 3 MPEG audio encoding
      • MP3 import is (currently) not supported.
    • Speex - An Ogg subformat optimised for speech compression
    • VOC files created using Creative Labs Soundblaster cards
  • Lossless (yet compact)
    • DrumSynth (ds) files

Samples as sounds

A sample treated just as a sound means that you want to play the sample back at exactly the same pitch and speed it was recorded at. You can put the sample in an AudioFileProcessor plugin in the Song Editor and then create a note in the Piano Roll Editor that is the length of the sample. It can take some experimenting to stretch the note out to the length of the sample. By doing this you are also limited to playing only one sample on this track. There is an easier way.

In the Song Editor, you can use the Add Sample Track button (addsampletrackbutton.png) to create a track that plays samples. Click on the sample track timeline to create a new segment for a sample. You can then add a sample into that segment by either double-clicking on the segment (which will display a File Open dialog for you to choose the sample to be played) or by dragging a sample from the Side Bar into the segment. The sample will be played in that segment and the segment will expand to take up the entire length of the sample. You can further crop the segment shorter (to clip sound off the end) by dragging the end of the sample left or right. All the regular actions of the song editor apply to samples.

The Sample Track also allows you to play several different samples in the same track. This is useful if you have recorded a chorus, solo and bridge separately (for example) and want to combine them into the same track. Simply create more than one segment and drop your samples into this.

You can also overlap samples and they will play simultaneously rather than one occluding the other. However, there is no indication in the sample of where the overlaps are, so even though you can put one sample completely over another you will not be able to see the sample underneath unless you actually move the top sample. This can be confusing and is not recommended.

Unlike other music composition programs, these tracks are stereo by default. If you have two mono recordings for the left and right channel and want to include them as a stereo pair, you can add them individually into separate sample tracks. At the moment there is no way to pan each track left or right, however. You may be better off at this stage combining the two tracks into one stereo track in your favourite audio editor.

Samples as instruments

Typically, you will use a sample as an instrument when the sample is of an instrument playing a single note and you want to play that note at different pitches to make a melody or harmony line.

In order to create an instrument using a sample, drag the sample from the Samples section of the Side Bar onto the Song Editor. This will create a new track with the sample in an AudioFileProcessor Plugin instrument window, already displayed if you need to change some parameters. Often you might need to change the amplitude, start or end time, or the base note of the sample in order to get the sound right, so having this window opened for you makes this easier. To close it, simply choose its close window or the large instrument button in the Song Editor.

You then create notes and edit them using the Piano Roll Editor.

Samples as percussion

A common use of samples is for percussion and repetitive note patterns. To do this, drag the sample from the Side Bar into the Beat + Bassline Editor. You can also double-click on a sample to directly add it to the Beat + Bassline Editor. Like other instruments, the instrument plugin is displayed when the track is opened in case you want to edit any of its parameters.


Prev: Working with Instruments Up: 0.4:Manual Next: Composing in the Piano Roll Editor
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