+ Learn to create and arrange original, instrumental hip-hop music from sampling pioneer RJD2 himself in his new course on Soundfly, RJD2: From Samples to Songs.
Have you ever thought about inserting sounds other than percussion samples in your drum beats? There are so many possibilities!
Sampling unusual objects to create percussive rhythms and abstract sound collages has actually been in practice for over half a century — with composers such as John Cage, Pamela Z, Brian Eno and The Beach Boys employing various techniques and pushing the electronic music envelope forward into different sound worlds. But these days, with so much audio production being possible from your own home, it’s never been easier to turn any random sound into a useful instrument.
In fact, I bet you’re sitting around in your kitchen right now thinking about what kind of snare sounds you can get out of that whisk over there…
Francesco Pellegrin, who goes by Look Mum No Drums, is a producer who has a modern take on using found objects. He has created a lot of content featuring household items such as cameras, fridges, doors, a banana, and phones. His work features found objects that are heavily processed as well as some that are in their rawest form and both sound great!
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And then there’s YouTuber Andrew Huang, whose channel is filled with amazing applications of sampling household objects in beat-driven pop music. We here at Soundfly even put together a free short course with Andrew on his process with some challenges and prompts for you to duplicate at home. Alongside Andrew, we built a track using only the sounds of his IKEA kitchen pot.
So, I recently challenged myself to sample some household objects to see if they would be suitable for use as drum samples, and perhaps even make a beat out of them. I found some very unique sounds from household items such as my toaster, dishwasher, coffee table, and some wooden spoons. It was very inspiring to see how quickly the sounds I captured could be transformed into a musical context.
As I was compiling samples, I tried to find sounds around my house that could function in similar categories as a typical drum sample pack, such as: hi-hats, snares, percussion, kicks, and foley. There were also a couple of sounds that could be tuned for use in a sampling synthesizer in Ableton Live.
Here is a playlist of sounds that I sampled. Here’s the beat a made using some sounds from the pack:
In this track, I used the “Toilet Filling_Foley” sample to provide some subtle ambiance in the background. I used the “Tequila C_Tone” sample, which is tuned to C, and then put it in Ableton’s Sampler synth to use as a pluck style synth.
For the drums, I used the “Keys 1_Perc” sample to function like a shaker, the “Tongs 1_Perc” and “Tong 2_Perc” samples were used as hi-hats and the “Wood Spoon 1” and “La Croix Pop” sounds were layered to make a hybrid backbeat that sounds like a clap. I used a “Coffee Table 1_Kick” sample as a kick sound and the “Sink 1” sample with a lot of reverb to make transitionary sound design.
Kitchen and other household objects are incredibly fun to play around with, even if you only have a phone on which to record them. Make a track using some objects from your home and post them in the comments.
Lastly, if you’re producing hip-hop beats and looking for inspiration, creative alternatives, and to explore the work of one of the most influential producers of this century, look no further. Check out Soundfly’s course with turntablist and sampling pioneer, RJD2: From Samples to Songs, in which he explores his creative process in detail, breaks down his most famous beats, and flips samples in real time.
Continue learning about beat making, sampling, mixing, vocal recording, and DIY audio production, with Soundfly’s in-depth online courses, including The Art of Hip-Hop Production, Modern Mixing Techniques, and RJD2: From Samples to Songs.