Use these 5 simple tricks to replicate classic analogue tape techniques in your digital sampler.
1. Time becomes a loop
Load two copies of the same sample into your sampler. Loop them both, but trim one to be slightly shorter than the other. Draw a long note into your piano roll for each sample and let them drift in and out of phase with each other. Make sure they’re both playing at the same pitch.
Tape, as a physical medium, can wear down over time as the magnetic coating comes off. Evoke a similar feeling with sampler effects like distortion, low-pass-filtering and saturation. Automate amounts to mimic a slow degradation over time, or heavily for really damaged sections.
One trick used in music concrète was varispeed, done by physically manipulating the playback on one tape machine while recording it to another. You can emulate this effect by modulating the pitch of a sound (the more extreme the better!), bouncing it down and then re-importing it into your sampler.
4. Sampler flanging
Back in the day, flanging was only possible by playing the same sound on two tape machines while manipulating one manually. Import two copies of the same sound into a sampler but push the start point back on the second. When you play them back simultaneously, that slight difference will create a comb filter effect.
5. Eno loops
Brian Eno devised a way of letting loops cycle against each other to make odd cyclical combinations. Try it by bouncing down musical phrases and looping them in a sampler. Don’t retrigger notes - let them cycle through their own loop points.