In this article I’m going to walk you through 3 ways I like to experiment with sound samples when producing dance music. I’ll be using Ableton as a visual guide but these techniques can be used in any DAW.

1. Pitched Vocals as Melodies

This one is pretty simple yet incredibly versatile. To give you some perspective I’m talking about taking something like this –
And turning it into this –
To get started just bring in a basic vocal hit to a sampler like Ableton’s Simpler. Then bring the start and end markers so that there is a continuous similar waveform playing. Make sure the Loop and Snap setting are turned on. Play around with different settings on your sampler to tweak the sound a bit – I like using the Spread knob to add some stereo width to the sound. I also added some Glide and adjusted the volume envelope to taste.
pitched vocal in sampler

2. Reversed reverb as a Riser

A great way to create interesting epic buildups is to record a long reverb tail on a vocal hit and then reverse the audio.

So we’ll go from this –

To this –

This is another simple but often overlooked technique. To accomplish this just take the sample that you’d like to transform and put it on a new Audio track, apply a big great reverb, and adjust the Decay Time to a long-ish setting. Then set another Audio track channel to record the output of the vocal sample. Once you have a bounced down version of the vocal sample with reverb applied, use your DAW’s Reverse function and voila! You now have a unique riser effect. Try out different combinations of vocal hits and reverb settings to get it just right.

3. Layer!

A lot of producers out there will stick to using just one drum sound or sample per drum channel. This is a surefire way to have a generic sounding drums. A brilliant way to add some life and originality to your work is to layer drum hits as well as any other samples in your track. An easy way to find complimentary sounds is to search for sounds that are in the same key and have similar characteristics. A great way to find free complimentary and similar sounds for layering is to use and browse their one shots.

For instance this synth trumpet hit went from a straightforward brass sound –

To a much more complex layered sound –


Hopefully this article gave you some more weapons to add to your arsenal next time you sit down to produce. Have these tips been helpful? Let me know in the comments below.