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Using Time-Stretch with Samples

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Time Stretching Might Help with Timing, But Not Always Good for the Sound; Tempo Modification an Effective Alternative

By AMIR SAID (SA’ID)

I prefer to stay away from time-stretching samples. Although I understand the primary benefits of it—for example, it helps with tempo matching and the like—, I do not like what you often give up in return: sound and texture quality! Once you stretch a sample (or any sound, for that matter), the sound “changes,” and along with that sound change is a mood and feel (vibe) change. I think of it like going from natural to synthetic. Thus, for me, if I need to fit something to a tempo, I first manipulate the overall tempo. I owe all of my understanding to tempo adjustments to my DJ background. Therefore, when the timing is “off” in a beat, I don’t think about “correcting” the timing; instead, I think more along the lines of mixing and blending the musical elements with the tempo that’s being driven home by the drums.

In the rare occasions where tempo modification alone doesn’t work, I modify the velocity and volume of certain sounds within the beat. In fact, sometimes I do both of these steps together. Either way, my aim is to make sure each element of sound meshes together within the rhythm I’ve established. Moreover, it’s important for me to stay away from “corrective” functions as much as possible. In this way, I feel more connected to the DJ’ing tradition of hip hop/rap music, the foundation of beatmaking.

Finally, here, I should mention that I know a number of beatmakers who time-stretch their samples, but it’s worth noting that they do it not for “effect,” but as a last resort, when something’s not matching up—and even then they do it in a fairly limited manner.


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About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album 'The Best of Times.' Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual