Music has been a significant part of human culture since ancient times, and over the years, it has undergone several transformations, from classical music to jazz, rock, pop, and electronic dance music. However, in recent times, a trend has emerged in the music industry, where artists rely heavily on sample packs and samples to produce their music. While these tools have undoubtedly made the production process more accessible and streamlined, they have also contributed to a lack of originality in today’s modern music.
Sample packs and samples are pre-recorded musical elements that producers can use to create their music. These packs can include drum loops, melody loops, and sound effects, among other things, and they are readily available for purchase on various online platforms. With the click of a button, producers can access thousands of sounds that they can incorporate into their productions, saving them time and effort in the creation process.
However, the widespread use of sample packs and samples has led to a homogenization of modern music. As more producers use the same sample packs and samples, the sounds and rhythms become repetitive, and the music becomes predictable. This lack of originality is evident in many genres, from hip-hop to electronic dance music. Certain sounds have become synonymous with the genre, making it difficult for artists to differentiate themselves from their peers.
Moreover, the over-reliance on sample packs and samples has led to a decline in the art of music production. In the past, producers would spend hours, days, or even weeks creating original sounds and developing unique rhythms. Today, many producers simply use pre-made loops and samples, eliminating the need for creativity and innovation. As a result, the music industry is missing out on new and exciting sounds that could have emerged if producers were willing to experiment with different instruments and techniques.
The process of using sample packs to create music typically involves the following steps:
Selecting the right sample pack
The producer selects a sample pack based on their musical style and the type of sounds they are looking for. Sample packs are often organized by genre or instrument, making it easier to find the right sounds for a specific project.
Browsing through the pack
The producer listens to the samples in the pack and identifies the ones that they want to use in their project. This may involve auditioning multiple samples and experimenting with different combinations of sounds to find the right fit.
Importing the samples in your DAW
Once the producer has identified the samples they want to use, they import them into their DAW software, which allows them to manipulate the sounds and arrange them into a cohesive composition.
Editing and processing
The producer may apply effects, such as reverb, delay, or distortion, to the samples to alter their sound and create new textures. They may also chop up loops or manipulate individual samples to create new rhythms or melodies.
Arranging and Composition
The producer arranges the edited samples into a musical composition, using the samples as building blocks to create a complete song or track. This may involve layering multiple samples together, using different samples for different sections of the song, or adding original instrumentation or vocals to complement the samples.
Mix and Master
Once the composition is complete, the producer mixes and masters the final track, adjusting levels, adding effects, and applying final touches to ensure that the song sounds polished and professional.
In addition, the commercialization of music and the focus on creating “hits” has led to a prioritization of marketability over artistic expression. Record labels and streaming services often push for songs that are similar to popular hits, as they are more likely to be successful and generate revenue.
Here are some ways musicians can use instruments and musicians to create unique-sounding songs:
Using live instruments such as guitar, drums, or piano can bring a unique energy to a song. Even if the musician doesn’t play an instrument themselves, they can collaborate with other musicians to add these elements to their music.
Experimenting with unconventional sounds
Adding unconventional instruments like a kazoo, a melodica, or a theremin can add a distinctive sound to a track that isn’t found in sample packs. Musicians can also use objects like pots and pans, or sample sounds from their surroundings to create unique percussion and ambient sounds.
Working with other musicians can bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to a project. For example, a vocalist could bring a unique tone or style to a song, while a percussionist could add intricate rhythms and textures.
Improvisation and Jamming
Sometimes the most creative ideas can come from improvisation and jamming with other musicians. Musicians can record these improvisations and use them as building blocks for a new composition.
Recording in Unique Spaces
Recording in unique environments can add ambient sounds and textures that can’t be replicated with sample packs. For example, recording in a cave, a forest, or an abandoned building can add a unique and authentic quality to a song.
There are also financial incentives for using sample packs, as they can be cheaper than hiring musicians or purchasing expensive equipment. However, this approach comes at a cost, as it limits the creative potential of the producer and results in a lack of originality in modern music. To address this issue, producers need to be willing to experiment with different sounds and techniques and take risks in their music production. Only then can we hope to see a resurgence of innovation and creativity in modern music.