[linux-audio-user] Beginner sampler questions

Chris Metzler cmetzler at speakeasy.net
Fri Mar 26 13:21:15 EST 2004

Hi.  Thanks for replying.

On Wed, 24 Mar 2004 16:23:35 -0800
davidrclark at earthlink.net wrote:
> The term "wave table" refers to looking up the sequence of values in a 
> table or an array, not where the samples came from nor how they were
> created.  A wave table synth is a type of sampler synth.  There
> is no requirement that the violin begin with a sample of the attack of
> a real violin, then transform into an oscillator.  This could be done,
> and the values could be stored in a table, subsequently played out
> a wave table synth.  But this doesn't determine that such a synth
> has the name "wave table synth."  One can record knee slaps and
> put them into a soundfont, and then play them out their SB Live! card
> with no synthesis anywhere in this process.  Longer notes of extended
> samples can be created by looping back through the sample.  One doesn't
> need to resort to synthesized sound for the remainder of a note, yet
> still legitimately refer to their synth as a "wave table synth."

Thanks for elaborating on this.

>> And as I understand it, the main difference between a sampler and
>> a wavetable synth is the lack of constraints on the samples used
>> -- with a sampler, anything at all could be a perfectly good
>> sample, including samples of almost arbitrary duration (and thus
>> size).
> This is not really correct, but an implementation detail.
> ALL sampler synths, including wavetable synths, have limitations
> on the samples.  Now sometimes you'll see marketingspeak: "Limited
> only by the capabilities of your machine."  There may be no hard-
> coded limits, but there are indeed limits.

Well, yeah, and that's why I said "almost" arbitrary.  I mean, a couple
of hundred megs of RAM could hold a sample much longer than just about
anyone would ever wanna work with, right?

>>                  But that brings my
>> first question -- if you don't own/play the instruments in question,
>> where do you get the samples?  I've done a lot of web searching,
>> and found tons of drum loops and bass lines that are two measures
>> long and so forth, but don't find much in the way of e.g. individual
>> notes on basses.
> When someone asks "Where does one obtain samples," many immediately
> advise the questioner to go to the many sample libraries which exist,
> sample CD's, sample loops, the Internet sources, etc.  One can also
> record one's own samples.  One can also simulate instruments through
> physical modelling.  One can also record one's own samples of 
> *whatever can be sent through the audio path*.  One can mix samples,
> including individual notes. For masochists, one can type in a table 
> of values, convert this to an audio format, then use that as samples.
> One can "rip" them off CD's, videotapes, radio broadcasts (the legality
> of which depends on the source and the use of the material).  There 
> are *many* sources of samples. The main limitation is the composer's
> imagination.  

Right.  Sample CDs hadn't occurred to me.  As far as the net is concerned,
that's why I wrote the above -- I'd done tons of searching and found lots
of samples, but nearly all of them were instrument lines of a measure
or two in length.  I haven't found much of individual instruments playing
only one note, and was hoping that a source for such existed online.  But
I'm following you, I think the point you're trying to make to me is not
about that, but rather just the fact that samplers are useful for a hell
of a lot more than just simulating a particular instrument.  Which I
agree is pretty cool.

> A simple example:  Record yourself humming into a mic.  Go into 
> a WAV editor and give this a guitar envelope.

I don't even know what a guitar envelope is (presumably, an amplitude
envelope taken from a guitar note or chord?).  Is giving one portion of a
waveform the amplitude envelope of another portion of a different waveform
something that most WAV editors (audacity, ecasound, ardour?) do
straightforwardly?  Can you tell I'm just getting started learning this
stuff yet?  Heh.  But seriously, thank you for giving me ideas of
things to play with.  There's a lot and it can seem overwhelming.


Chris Metzler			cmetzler at speakeasy.snip-me.net
		(remove "snip-me." to email)

"As a child I understood how to give; I have forgotten this grace since I
have become civilized." - Chief Luther Standing Bear
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