This is for all of you young trackers nosing endlessly the most intimate bends of the internet to find the perfect sound for your tune and arguing about the quality of this or that sample…
Back to the time of the Amiga Scene.
I was a real young tracker, scanning every chunk of freezed memory, every floppy, every magazine… for “new samples”… looking for “new sounds” to load into my Protracker and to compose with. It was a real hard job.
And then I step into this intro… at that time, you might remember, every major release had a pirate-intro. That’s where the scene (and we all ) come from.
Well this intro starts to play some music… and I’m totally amazed.
Bloody hell! What’s that wonderfull sound? a trance-like groove with an electronic attitude… and a weird electric-piano-like remarking every now and then with an elegant but catchy melody. That sound! so simple yet so vibrating, deep, regular and with a sublime tripletted-delay…
I had to get to those samples! Those were by far the best samples I had encountered in my life. Suddenly I had a clear vision of me, composing with those great sound, finally finding out some really cool new stuff…
It wasn’t hard to freeze memory and suck the module out and on disk…
hard was, instead, to believe what my eyes were staring at.
The module itself wasn’t larger than about 25 Kb.
Once I loaded it into my protracker, in utter amazement, I witnessed that those wonderfull sound was actually a chip-sample.
If you fail understanding what a Chip-Sample is, I will say that a lot of time ago, with disk-space being the most valuable resource you had, you couldn’t afford large music files… expecially when most of the space on disk was intended to contain the usefull programs. So music was reduced to the minimum. One way to create sound from just a couple of bytes was to load “something” very light into the sampler and then loop it. Some sort of primitive oscillator.
I couldn’t believe that sound was just a chip-sound… playing it alone it was just another chip-sample with nothing special. I was totally like
What the hell happened then?
It was just the way that musician composed. He gave the right “paste” to the whole module. Bass and bassdrum where fine toghether… the chip-sample turned out to lean out of the pattern only in certain positions, using only certain “free spaces”…
I had to learn one of the most usefull lessons in my musical life:
it’s not the sound, it’s the way you use it.
I somehow have come to put this fact apart, during the years.
Ok, one thinks, it’s the way I use it… but still, there are new sounds that must be explorated… and sound quality is certainly not something I despite!
So one day, a couple of years ago, I went to studio to record this singing session for Graziano Pegoraro: an old-time and quite famous italian producer in commercial dance. After recording we started discussing about sound… I knew I could learn so much from someone like him that I started to ask more and more and he, as the friendly person he is, was glad to reply… sometime with just a couple of words while typing something on his pc… sometime with an entire, passionate discussion.
I noticed a wall all covered with every AKAI or CD sound library you can ever imagine… and jokingly asked if I could take a couple of hundreds of those… and for the second time I had to stand the ice-shower.
“Ah… those… yeah sure… I really don’t use em this much…”
“No? You got something better?”
“better?..” he turned on his office-chair with amused eyes “…you still think it’s a matter of sound?” then going back to the screen “It’s a matter of EQ and compression. You think there is a preset for every f****ing bassdrum you heard on radio recently? Nah… there is a base set of… say… 4, 5 bassdrums I use… and everybody else uses in radio, in discos.
You should never listen to a single Bassdrum track or to a single bass track… you should check the Bassdrum + Bass Paste…
except the basic sound EQ and compression… it’s not the sound, it’s the way you tweak it, the way you put em toghether…”
So, one of the biggest italian producers and for sure one of the wisest, alive despite his venerable age, still kicking asses and getting money from his music… was placing with total indifference a piece to the puzzle that I couldn’t help but linking to that remote day when I ripped that module from memory, in the beginning of my scenish life.
Of course it’s good to have sound quality… but you should always mind if your production is “hiding” behind the good quality of your samples.
I have never borrowed any sound library from him that day… nor any other day for that matters.