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Music Studio Technology

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Sound Samples

EMU Proteus

Sound Samples are waveforms converted to digital files, often using the wav format. Digital files can be stored easily in libraries for easy access. Given the right software, digital sound samples can be edited, analyzed, combined and turned into programs playable on electronic keyboards. Most voice production in current synthesizers are based on banks of sound samples. EMU produced a series of samples that were popular in studios.

In 1971, Dave Rossum and friends from Cal Tech built an analog synthesizer they called E ยต . Later with Scott Wedge, Dave formed a company and the name became E-mu They advertised their products in Popular Electronics and in Electronotes, a newsletter for engineers. In 1973, E-mu introduced a digitally-scanned polyphonic keyboard, which featured a built-in digital sequencer, the protype of the EMU modules I continue to use. In 1979 they were inspired by the high end Fairlight CMI and began designing a sampling keyboard - the E-mulator was first released in 1981.

 They also created sample libraries that were incorporated into their sample-based synthesizers. I rushed to the music store in 1989 when the sound module, EMU Proteus, first appeared. This was a truly polyphonic sound module, based on digital samples. The sounds were crisp and clear. Mixes with the Proteus were better that I could achieve with other synths. I have been an EMU Proteus fan ever since.

In this EMU Emulator X3 editor window, a rhythm sound sample has been analyzed and deployed with beat notation. The sample can be modified in a variety of ways. The amplitude, tempo and pitch can be altered. The waveform can be passed through a number of filters that alter the sound. To create an instrument, the sample has to be the equivalent of one note that has an attack, sustain, decay envelope. The sample is then assigned to one or more keys on the keyboard.

EMU X2 sample edit window.

Samples are assigned to different keys.
The keyboard becomes a multi-instrument controller.

A sample or mix of samples can be used to create musical instruments that can be played on a keyboard or with another midi controller. Assigning samples to notes on the keyboard is the beginning, followed by molding the sounds with a variety of functions. The next step is to create amplitude envelops that determine the attack, sustain and decays characteristics of the sound.

Sound Clips for Sale

For several years, sound samples have been offered as building blocks in instant music programs. No musical knowledge or instrumental skills are required. Sound clips are inserted into a song sequence and repeated. A groove sample may be a recording of drums, base and rhythm guitar in a specific style. A pop or dance piece would require an intro, grooves for verse, chorus and bridge and an ending.

See Audio Sample-Loop Programs


  • Topics presented at Persona Digital Studio are from the book,
    The Sound of Music
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    Persona Digital Studio is located on the Sunshine Coast, Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada.

    Persona Music Recordings: Our Music Catalogue includes recorded performances under the names P2500 Band, Em4U, and the Persona Classical Consort. Some music online is offered to illustrate music history, advance music education and appreciation. The recordings presented online demonstrate Persona Studio's arranging, recording and mastering techniques. All the recordings are completed in house by Stephen Gislason.

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