Amiga Music/MIDI: Sound Samples

Where to find them, how to get them, and what to do with them

By Fred Ericksen, Music/MIDI Editor,

Hello, Amiga Music People!

If you've been following the past few articles here in the music section, then you have read about most of the popular MIDI sequencing packages available for our platform. MIDI sequencing is an external thing, for people with MIDI keyboards, drum machines, etc. This month we have a special guest, Mr. Sidewinder, to talk about MOD's. A MOD is an internal, or integrated type of sequencing using the Amiga 8 bit, 4 channel sound chip. It differs mainly by using grooves and loops. Rather than sequencing note by note, the main objective is to use the 4 voice chip like a sampler, so you can have what seems many more parts than just 4 voices. For instance, the theory is you can trigger voice one with a 4 beat pre-sampled drum pattern, have it repeat a given amount of time (say, 4 times for a chorus), then switch to a different drum beat (or sampled loop) for the next section of the song. This way you don't need a lot of memory or specialized sounds to create a complete song. A typical song has a structure of A-B-A-C-A, meaning you only need three 4-beat drum loops (one for each section). Use Voice 2 for a bass pattern. Voice 3 could be a combined pre-sampled guitar and horn lick, while Voice 4 is a layered synth sound. This way you can fool the listener into thinking more things are going on than just 4 voices. I've heard a lot of mods that sound absolutely FANTASTIC!

I personally haven't used the Amiga this way much, but do have experience using external samplers, and it's quite the same thing. One thing I'm sure a lot of Amiga folks are thinking is, "Where do I get, or how do I make these samples you're talking about?"

There are a few external-type sound digitizers available. One of the most recommended I've heard about is MegaloSound. This device hooks into your serial port. Just hook a microphone in, and sample away! "Sample What?" I here you say. "I don't have a drum set." Well, you're not alone. You can still get it done _Very_ easily. In a lot of the "Pro" studios, they'll get what us "old" folks call a Drum Drops Record. Actually, that was the forerunner of today's Rap type Groove records, or disks. You can find sampling CD's with nearly every groove available. Also, there are a lot of CD's with just about any sound you could imagine: synth sounds, guitar sounds. Even vocal sounds.

"Sounds interesting" I here you say. "But I don't have a digitizer, and want to try someting right away". Well, you CAN! Another way to go about this is to get a "Ripper." This is a program that will find sounds and grooves you already have!

"I already have samples and grooves?" you say? YES YOU DO! Think about the games you have. I have a pinball game that not only has drum grooves, but car sounds, circus sounds, etc. Using a Ripper, you could isolate those sounds and use them in your own compositions. Do a search on Aminet, Genie, CompuServe, etc., and I'm sure you can find quite a few differnt Ripper programs. While you're there, find some MOD sequencing programs too. Look for Soundtracker, or MED. Both of these will get you on the "MOD Squad" before you know it!

Good Luck!