Sampler (musical instrument)

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An AKAI MPC2000 sampling sequencer (1997) Akai MPC2000.jpg
An AKAI MPC2000 sampling sequencer (1997)

A sampler is an electronic or digital musical instrument which uses sound recordings (or "samples") of real instrument sounds (e.g., a piano, violin, trumpet, or other synthesizer), excerpts from recorded songs (e.g., a five-second bass guitar riff from a funk song) or found sounds (e.g., sirens and ocean waves). The samples are loaded or recorded by the user or by a manufacturer. These sounds are then played back by means of the sampler program itself, a MIDI keyboard, sequencer or another triggering device (e.g., electronic drums) to perform or compose music. Because these samples are usually stored in digital memory, the information can be quickly accessed. A single sample may often be pitch-shifted to different pitches to produce musical scales and chords.


Often samplers offer filters, effects units, modulation via low frequency oscillation and other synthesizer-like processes that allow the original sound to be modified in many different ways. Most samplers have Multitimbrality capabilities – they can play back different sounds simultaneously. Many are also polyphonic – they are able to play more than one note at the same time.

Lichttonorgel (1936),
an earlier sampling organ utilizing analog optical disc Lichtorgel.jpg
Lichttonorgel (1936),
an earlier sampling organ utilizing analog optical disc


Mellotron (Introduced 1963)
EMS MUSYS-3 (1970) system diagram.jpg
EMS MUSYS-3 (1970) (based on Nunzio 2014)

Prior to computer memory-based samplers, musicians used tape replay keyboards, which store recordings on analog tape. When a key is pressed the tape head contacts the moving tape and plays a sound. The Mellotron was the most notable model, used by a number of groups in the late 1960s and the 1970s, but such systems were expensive and heavy due to the multiple tape mechanisms involved, and the range of the instrument was limited to three octaves at the most. To change sounds a new set of tapes had to be installed in the instrument. The emergence of the digital sampler made sampling far more practical.

The earliest digital sampling was done on the EMS Musys system, developed by Peter Grogono (software), David Cockerell (hardware and interfacing) and Peter Zinovieff (system design and operation) at their London (Putney) Studio c. 1969. The system ran on two mini-computers, Digital Equipment PDP-8's. These had a pair of fast D/A and A/D converters, [1] [2] 12,000 (12k) bytes of core memory (RAM), backed up by a hard drive of 32k and by tape storage (DecTape). [3] [4] [5] EMS equipment was used to control the world's first digital studio (EMS London (Putney) Studio), and their earliest digital sampling was done on that system during 1971–1972 for Harrison Birtwistle's "Chronometer" released in 1975. [1] [6] [7]

Fairlight CMI (1979-) Fairlight green screen.jpg
Fairlight CMI (1979–)

The first commercially available sampling synthesizer was the Computer Music Melodian by Harry Mendell (1976), while the first polyphonic digital sampling synthesizer was the Australian-produced Fairlight CMI, first available in 1979. These early sampling synthesizers used wavetable sample-based synthesis. [8]

Since the 1980s,[ citation needed ] samplers have been using pulse-code modulation (PCM) for digital sampling. [8] [ unreliable source? ] The first PCM digital sampler[ citation needed ] was Toshiba's LMD-649, [9] [ unreliable source? ] created in 1981 by engineer Kenji Murata for Japanese electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra, who used it for extensive sampling and looping in their 1981 album Technodelic . [10] The LMD-649 played and recorded PCM samples at 12-bit audio depth and 50 kHz sampling rate, stored in 128 KB of dynamic RAM. [9] The LMD-649 was also used by other Japanese synthpop artists in the early 1980s, including Chiemi Manabe [11] and Logic System. [12] Sampling keyboards were notable for their high price which was out of reach for the majority of working musicians – with the early Fairlight starting at $30,000. The E-mu Emulator brought the price down to under $10,000 but it was not until the mid-1980s that genuinely affordable keyboard samplers began to hit the market with the Ensoniq Mirage in 1985 and the E-mu Emax the following year, which had a sub-$2000 price point. The Korg DSS-1 and Roland's S-Series followed shortly afterwards.

E-mu SP-12.jpg
E-mu SP-12 (1986)
Akai MPC60.jpg
Akai MPC60 (1988)

The E-mu SP-1200 percussion sampler, upon its release in August 1987, popularized the use of digital samplers within hip hop music in the late 1980s. Akai pioneered many processing techniques, such as crossfade looping and "time stretch" to shorten or lengthen samples without affecting pitch and vice versa. The Akai MPC60, released in 1988, went on to become the most influential sampler in hip hop music. [13] That same year, the Ensoniq EPS – the successor to the Mirage – was launched and was the first sampling keyboard which was designed specifically for live performance rather being a purely studio based tool as most samplers had been hitherto.

During the 1980s, hybrid synthesizers began to utilize short samples (such as the attack phase of an instrument) along with digital synthesis to create more realistic imitations of instruments than had previously been possible. Examples are the Korg M1, Roland U-110, Yamaha's SY series, and the Kawai K series of instruments. Limiting factors at the time were the cost of physical memory (RAM) and the limitations of external data storage devices, and this approach made best use of the tiny amount of memory available to the design engineers. The 2010s-era music workstation usually uses sampling, whether simple playback or complex editing that matches all but the most advanced dedicated samplers, and also includes features such as a sequencer. Samplers, together with traditional Foley artists, are the mainstay of modern sound effects production. Using digital techniques various effects can be pitch-shifted and otherwise altered in ways that would have required many hours when done with tape.



Fig. 1: An example of how multiple samples can be arranged across a keyboard range. In this example, four different recordings of a violin are distributed across 12 notes. Each sample will play back at three different pitch values KeyboardZone.jpg
Fig. 1: An example of how multiple samples can be arranged across a keyboard range. In this example, four different recordings of a violin are distributed across 12 notes. Each sample will play back at three different pitch values

Usually a sampler is controlled by an attached music keyboard or other external MIDI controller or source. Each note-message received by the sampler accesses a particular sample. Often multiple samples are arranged across the keyboard, each assigned to a note or group of notes. Keyboard tracking allows samples to be shifted in pitch by an appropriate amount, typically in semitones and tones. Each group of notes to which a single sample has been assigned is often called a "keyzone", and the resultant set of zones is called a keymap.

For example, in Fig 1, a keymap has been created with four different samples. Each sample, if pitched, should be associated with a particular center pitch. The first sample (Violin G#2) is distributed across three different notes, G2, G#2, and A2. If the note G#2 is received the sampler will play back the Violin G#2 sample at its original pitch. If the note received is G2 the sampler will shift the sample down a semitone while the note A2 will play it back a semitone tone higher. If the next note (Bb2) is input the sampler will select the Violin B2 sample, playing it a semitone lower than its center pitch of B2.

In general, samplers can play back any kind of recorded audio. Most samplers offer editing tools that allow the user to modify and process the audio and apply a wide range of effects. This makes the sampler a powerful and versatile musical tool.


A sampler is organized into a hierarchy of progressively more complicated data structures. At the bottom lie samples, individual recordings of any sound, recorded at a particular sample rate and resolution. While a common sound to sample is a musical instrument being played (e.g., a pianist playing a piano note or an organist playing a pipe organ), a sample could be any sound, including "non-musical" sounds such as a typewriter clacking or a dog barking. A reference center pitch indicates the actual frequency of the recorded note. Samples may also be "looped" by defining points at which a repeated section of the sample starts and ends, allowing a relatively short sample to play endlessly. In some cases, a "loop crossfade" is indicated, allowing less obvious transitions at the loop point by fading the end of the loop out while fading its beginning in.

Keymaps are arranged into instruments. At this level parameters may be added to define how the keymaps are played. Filters can be applied to change the sound-color while low frequency oscillators and envelope generators can shape the amplitude, pitch, filter or other parameters of the sound. Instruments may have multiple layers of keymaps to play more than one sample at the same time and each keymap may have a different set of parameters so that the incoming note-events affect each layer differently. For example, two layers may have a different sensitivity to the velocity of the incoming note, altering the resulting timbre according to how hard the note is played.

At this level, there are two basic approaches to sampler organization. In a bank approach, each instrument is assigned to a different MIDI channel and multiple banks can be stored to reconfigure the sampler. A different and more powerful approach is to associate each instrument with a patch number or ID so that each MIDI channel can be configured separately by sending controller information on the individual channel.


Joaquin Lana using a Yamaha SU10 Sampler Sampler yamaha jpereira.jpg
Joaquín Lana using a Yamaha SU10 Sampler

Many samplers work as described above: the keymapping system "spread out" a sample over a certain range of keys. This has side-effects that may be desirable in some contexts, such as speeding up or slowing down drum loops. However, the higher and lower-pitched parts of such a keymap may sound unnatural. For example, if a harpsichord is sampled in its lower register and then the samples are moved up to very high pitches, the high notes may not sound natural and authentic. When arranging a pitched instrument over several keymaps, the transition from one to another may be too noticeable for realistic imitation of the instrument – the art is to make transitions as smooth as possible.

Some phrase samplers are more optimised for triggering single "one-shot" sounds such as drum hits. Each keymap spans only a single key, requiring a large number of zones (61 on a five-octave keyboard), each with its own settings. "Phrase sampling" aims to simplify this, particularly on interfaces such as the 16 pads on the Akai MPC series: the fact that each pad is actually a note is hidden from the user. The sampling engine does not re-pitch samples, it only plays them back. The user interface is simplified. Phrase samplers often have a groovebox format, which makes them lightweight, easy to operate and light to carry.


Samplers can be classified by several specifications;

Manufacturers and models

Computer Music Melodian

DEC PDP-8/A (a minicomputer).
Computer Music Melodian (1976) was developed based on it PDP-8A 400 front panel.jpg
DEC PDP-8/A (a minicomputer).
Computer Music Melodian (1976) was developed based on it

Computer Music Inc. was started in New Jersey United States in 1972 by Harry Mendell and Dan Coren. The company was established to develop and market musical instruments based on computer software. The Melodian, developed in 1976, [14] [15] was based on Digital Equipment Corporation's PDP-8 computer. It included hand-wired digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital conversion functions, as well as tracking anti-aliasing filters. The Melodian was first used by Stevie Wonder on his album Stevie Wonder's Journey Through "The Secret Life of Plants" (1979).

The Melodian was a monophonic synthesizer with 12-bit analog-to-digital sampling at rates up to 22 kHz. It was designed to be compatible with analog synthesizers and had a feature allowing it to synchronize to the pitch of an analog synthesizer, such as an ARP 2600. This meant that the Melodian captured all frequency modulation effects, including those produced through the ARP's touch ribbon control. It also could trigger off the ARPs keyboard, thus functioning somewhat as a hybrid of sampler and analog synthesizer and making the most of the technology available at the time.


NED Synclavier PSMT, MIM PHX (transformed).jpg
Synclavier PSMT rack (1984)
NED Synclavier VPK (Velocity Pressure Keyboard) 1.jpg
Synclavier PSMT & VPK (1984) [16]

The Synclavier System was an early digital synthesizer and sampler, manufactured by New England Digital. First released in 1977, it proved to be highly influential among both music producers and electronic musicians, due to its versatility, its cutting-edge technology and distinctive sound. Synclavier Systems were expensive – the highest price ever paid for one was about $500,000, although average systems were closer to about $200,000 – $300,000. Although this made it inaccessible for most musicians, it found widespread use among producers and professional recording studios, and it competed in this market with other high-end production systems, such as the Fairlight CMI. Though scarce, the Synclavier remains in use in many studios to this day.

Fairlight Instruments

Fairlight CMI III (1985).jpg
Fairlight CMI Series III (1985)

Fairlight Instruments was started in Sydney, in 1975 by Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie. The company was originally established as a manufacturer and retailer of video special effects equipment.

The Fairlight CMI or Computer Music Instrument, released in 1979, started life as the Qasar M8. The M8 was handwired and legend has it that it took two hours to boot up. The CMI was the first commercially available polyphonic digital sampling instrument. The original Fairlight CMI sampled using a resolution of 8 bits per sample, [17] at a rate of 24 kHz, and used two 8-bit Motorola 6800 processors (later upgraded to the more powerful 16/32-bit Motorola 68000). [18] It was equipped with two six-octave keyboards, an alphanumeric keyboard, and an interactive video display unit (VDU) where soundwaves could be edited or even drawn from scratch using a light pen. Software allowed for editing, looping, and mixing of sounds which could then be played back via the keyboard or the software-based sequencer. It retailed for around US$25,000.

Fairlight later released the Series IIx, which increased the sampling rate to 32 kHz [18] and was the first to feature basic MIDI functionality. In 1985, the Series III was released with two significant upgrades: bit rate and sampling rate were increased to CD quality (16 bit/44.1 kHz) and SMPTE time code was now supported. Notable users of the Fairlight CMI include Peter Gabriel, Herbie Hancock, Trevor Horn, Art of Noise, Yello, Pet Shop Boys, Jean Michel Jarre, Duran Duran and Kate Bush. Horn, considered the "Man who invented the eighties", first used his well-known sampling techniques on the album Adventures in Modern Recording , the second studio album released under the name of his project The Buggles. Saying that he was "quite fascinated by Fairlight brass and all of those kind of things that Geoffrey and I had started messing around with before he went off to join Asia", the sampling techniques on Adventures would later be used for records Horn produced like Slave to the Rhythm by Grace Jones, Art of Noise's The Seduction of Claude Debussy and Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Welcome to the Pleasuredome . [19]

E-mu Systems

E-mu Emulator I.jpg
Emulator I (1982)
E-mu Emulator II - front.jpg
Emulator II (1984)
E-mu Emulator III.jpg
Emulator III (1987)
E-mu SP-12.jpg
E-mu SP-12 (1986)
E-mu SP-1200 (111607sp1200).jpg
E-mu SP-1200 (1987)

E-mu Emulator (1981) was E-mu Systems' initial foray into sampling, and saved the company from financial disaster after the complete failure of the Audity due to a price tag of $70,000. The name 'Emulator' came as the result of leafing through a thesaurus and matched the name of the company perfectly. The Emulator came in 2-, 4-, and 8-note polyphonic versions, the 2-note being dropped due to limited interest, and featured a maximum sampling rate of 27.7 kHz, a four-octave keyboard and 128 kB of memory.

E-mu Emulator II (1984) was designed to bridge the gap between the Fairlight CMI and Synclavier and the Ensoniq Mirage. It featured 8 notes polyphony, 8-bit sampling, 512kb of RAM (1mb in the EII+ though only accessible as two independent 512kb banks), an 8-track sequencer, and analog filtering. With the addition of the hard disk option, the Emulator II was comparable to samplers released 5 years later.

E-mu SP-12 (1986) was a forerunner of E-mu SP-1200.

E-mu Emulator III (1987) was a 16-bit stereo digital sampler with 16-note polyphony, 44.1 kHz maximum sample rate and had up to 8 MB of memory. It featured a 16 channel sequencer, SMPTE and a 40 MB hard disk.

E-mu SP-1200 (1987) was, and still is, one of the most highly regarded samplers for use in hip-hop related production. Its 12-bit sampling engine gave a desirable warmth to instruments and a gritty punch to drums. It featured 10 seconds of sample time spread across four 2.5-second sections.

E-mu Emax , sold between 1985 & 1995, and aimed at the lower end of the market.

E-mu ESI-32 (1994) was a stripped down, far cheaper, and simplified EIIIx, and could use the same samples. The unit could accommodate up to 32 MB RAM, 32 note polyphony and sounds could be routed internally to one of four polyphonic outputs. Via optional SCSI interface, the ESI-32 could access external CD-ROM, Zip-100, and hard drives.


Linn LM-1.jpg
Linn LM-1 (1980)
AKAI S612.jpg
Akai S612 (1985)
AKAI S900.jpg
Akai S900 (1986)
Akai MPC60 (1988)
Akai S1000.jpg
Akai S1000 (1988)

Akai entered the electronic musical instrument world in 1984 when Roger Linn, the creator of the Linn LM-1, the Linn 9000, and the LinnDrum, partnered with the Japanese/Singaporean Akai Corporation to create samplers similar to the ones created at Linn's own company, Linn Electronics. With this came the first in a series of affordable samplers, the S612, a 12 bit digital sampler module. The S612 was superseded in 1986 by the S900.

The Akai S900 (1986) was the first truly affordable digital sampler. It was 8-note polyphonic and featured 12-bit sampling with a frequency range up to 40 kHz and up to 750 kB of memory that allowed for just under 12 seconds at the best sampling rate. It could store a maximum of 32 samples in memory. The operating system was software based and allowed for upgrades that had to be booted each time the sampler was switched on.

The Akai MPC60 Digital Sampler/Drum Machine and MIDI Sequencer (1988) was the first non-rack mounted model released. It is also the first time a sampler with touch sensitive trigger pads was produced by AKAI, giving birth to the popular MPC series of sampler sequencers.

The Akai S950 (1988) was an improved version of the S900, with a maximum sample frequency of 48 kHz and some of the editing features of the contemporary S1000.

The Akai S1000 (1988) was possibly the most popular 16-bit 44.1 kHz stereo sampler of its time. It featured 16-voices, up to 32 MB of memory, and 24-bit internal processing, including a digital filter (18 dB/octave), an LFO, and two ADSR envelope generators (for amplitude and filtering). The S1000 also offered up to 8 different loop points. Additional functions included Autolooping, Crossfade Looping, Loop in Release (which cycles through the loop as the sound decays), Loop Until Release (which cycles through the loop until the note begins its decay), Reverse and Time Stretch (version 1.3 and higher).

Other samplers released by AKAI include the S01, S20, S700, S2000, S2800, S3000, S3000XL, S3200, S5000, S6000, MPC500, MPC1000, MPC2000, MPC2000XL, MPC2500, MPC3000, MPC3000XL, MPC3000LE, MPC4000, MPC5000, Z4 and Z8.


Roland Corporation manufactured the S series. These were true samplers that provide all of the features described above, including sampling, sample editing, pitch transposition, and keyzone mapping:

More recently, Roland introduced the Groove Sampler concept. These devices are renowned for their ease of use, but a few lack the pitch transposition and keyzone mapping capabilities that most samplers have. Some have limits to rendering loops or sound effects samples that are played back at the same pitch they were recorded. Although these machines are equipped with a wide range of built-in effects, a few lack pitch transposition and keyzone mapping that diminishes their utility significantly. The Roland Groove Sampler line includes the following:


Boss SP-303.jpg
Boss Dr. Sample SP-303 (2001)

Being a division of the Roland Corporation, Boss also contributed to the Groove Sampler/Groove Box concept with several samplers.

Sample storage

Most older samplers use SCSI as the protocol for getting sample data in and out of the machine. SCSI interfaces were either standard on the sampler or offered as an option. SCSI provides the ability to move large quantities of data in and out of a sampler in reasonable times. Hard drives, CDROM drives, Zip drives and removable cartridge drives such as Syquest and Iomega Jaz drives are the most popular SCSI devices used with samplers. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, with hard drives being the fastest devices. Modern (after 2000) samplers use solid-state memory cards (such as compact Flash or SmartMedia) for sample storage and transfer.

Software samplers

Fantasia, a user interface for LinuxSampler. LinuxSampler is a clone of GigaSampler by NemeSys, which was one of the first disk-streaming software samplers on PC.

In the 1990s and 2000s the increases in computer power and memory capacity have made it possible to develop software applications that provide the same capabilities as hardware-based units. These are typically produced as plug-in instruments – for example, using the VST system. Some such samplers provide relatively simple sample playback facilities, requiring the user to turn to other software for such tasks as sample editing, sample recording, and DSP effects, while others provide features beyond those offered by rack-mounted units.


Renoise, a graphical Tracker sequencer with integrated sampler Renoise 2.6.png
Renoise , a graphical Tracker sequencer with integrated sampler

In the 1980s, users on Home computers invented Trackers. Sequencers are software samplers as the real-time resampling is a required capability for the Tracker concept. [20] Since the 1980s, Trackers were able to perform 4-channel resampling in realtime under usage of the Paula Chip on the Amiga. Since the early 1990s Trackers performed on PCs multi-track resampling in realtime as pure software solution. This was possible under the usage of highly optimized assembly code, an early example is the InertiaPlayer released in 1993. [21] A recent PC Tracker with good sampler capabilities is for instance the Renoise Tracker. [20] [22]

See also


Related Research Articles

Digital synthesizer Synthesizer that uses digital signal processing to make sounds

A digital synthesizer is a synthesizer that uses digital signal processing (DSP) techniques to make musical sounds. This in contrast to older analog synthesizers, which produce music using analog electronics, and samplers, which play back digital recordings of acoustic, electric, or electronic instruments. Some digital synthesizers emulate analog synthesizers; others include sampling capability in addition to digital synthesis.

Electronic musical instrument Musical instrument that uses electronic circuits to generate sound

An electronic musical instrument or electrophone is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronic circuitry. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an electrical, electronic or digital audio signal that ultimately is plugged into a power amplifier which drives a loudspeaker, creating the sound heard by the performer and listener.

Music technology (electronic and digital)

Digital music technology encompasses digital instruments, computers, electronic effects units, software, or digital audio equipment by a performer, composer, sound engineer, DJ, or record producer to produce, perform or record music. The term refers to electronic devices, instruments, computer hardware, and software used in performance, playback, recording, composition, mixing, analysis, and editing of music.

A music sequencer is a device or application software that can record, edit, or play back music, by handling note and performance information in several forms, typically CV/Gate, MIDI, or Open Sound Control (OSC), and possibly audio and automation data for DAWs and plug-ins.

Groovebox Musical instrument designed for live, loop-based music

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Fairlight CMI Digital audio workstation

The Fairlight CMI is a digital synthesizer, sampler, and digital audio workstation introduced in 1979 by Fairlight. It was based on a commercial licence of the Qasar M8 developed by Tony Furse of Creative Strategies in Sydney, Australia. It was one of the earliest music workstations with an embedded sampler, and is credited for coining the term sampling in music. It rose to prominence in the early 1980s and competed with the Synclavier from New England Digital.

Sample-based synthesis is a form of audio synthesis that can be contrasted to either subtractive synthesis or additive synthesis. The principal difference with sample-based synthesis is that the seed waveforms are sampled sounds or instruments instead of fundamental waveforms such as sine and saw waves used in other types of synthesis.

Akai is a Japanese manufacturer of consumer electronics. It was founded as Akai Electric Company Ltd in Tokyo, Japan, in 1946. Grande Holdings in Hong Kong purchased the Akai brand, and now distributes various electronic products such as LED TV, washing machines, clothes dryers, air conditioners and smart phones, through collaborations with other electronics companies bearing relevant expertise. inMusic Brands in the United States took over Akai's brand, starting the ‘Akai Professional’ label, that distributes high-end audio electronics products.

A music workstation is an electronic musical instrument providing the facilities of:

Fairlight is a digital audio company based in Sydney. In 1979 they created the Fairlight CMI, one of the earliest digital audio workstation (DAW) with digital audio sampler, quickly used by artists such as Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, and Jean Michel Jarre. They are now a manufacturer of media tools such as digital audio recording and mixing consoles. Fairlight became such a prominent part of 1980s pop music that Phil Collins included the text "there is no Fairlight on this record" in the liner notes of No Jacket Required.

An orchestra hit, also known as an orchestral hit, orchestra stab, or orchestral stab, is a synthesized sound created through the layering of the sounds of a number of different orchestral instruments playing a single staccato note or chord. The orchestra hit sound was propagated by the use of early samplers, particularly the Fairlight CMI where it was known as the ORCH5 sample. The sound is used in pop, hip hop, jazz fusion, techno, and video game genres to accentuate passages of music.

The Ensoniq Mirage is one of the earliest affordable sampler-synths, introduced in 1984 as Ensoniq's first product. Introduced at a list price of $1,695 with features previously only found on more expensive samplers like the Fairlight CMI, the Mirage sold nearly 8,000 units in its first year - more than the combined unit sales of all other samplers at that time.

E-mu Emulator Synthesizer model

The Emulator is a series of digital sampling synthesizers using floppy disk storage, manufactured by E-mu Systems from 1981 until the 1990s. Though not the first commercial sampler, the Emulator was among the first to find wide use among ordinary musicians, due to its relatively low price and fairly contained size, which allowed for its use in live performances. It was also innovative in its integration of computer technology. The samplers were discontinued in 2002.

Akai MPC Music workstation

The Akai MPC is a series of music workstations produced by Akai from 1988 onwards. MPCs combine sampling and sequencing functions, allowing users to record portions of sound, modify them and play them back as sequences.

<i>Revolutions</i> (Jean-Michel Jarre album) 1988 studio album by Jean-Michel Jarre

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The Korg DSS-1 is a 12-bit polyphonic sampling synthesizer released in September 1986. It came out at a time when many of the popular synthesizer companies were beginning to get into sampling, an area of sound design that had previously been left to a handful of fledgling companies such as Fairlight, E-mu, and Ensoniq. Like Yamaha and Casio, however, Korg did not stay long in the sampling arena. The DSS-1 was the company's only sampler until 1998 when Korg introduced sampling options on their Triton and Trinity series of workstations, and on their Electribe series of drum-and-phrase samplers.

Synthesizer Electronic musical instrument

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E-mu Systems American music technology company

E-MU Systems was a software synthesizer, audio interface, MIDI interface, and MIDI keyboard manufacturer. Founded in 1971 as a synthesizer maker, E-mu was a pioneer in samplers, sample-based drum machines and low-cost digital sampling music workstations.

Sampling (music) Reuse of sound recording in another recording

In sound and music, sampling is the reuse of a portion of a sound recording in another recording. Samples may comprise elements such as rhythm, melody, speech, sounds or entire bars of music, and may be layered, equalized, sped up or slowed down, repitched, looped, or otherwise manipulated. They are usually integrated using hardware (samplers) or software such as digital audio workstations.

The Prophet 2000 is a sampler keyboard manufactured by Dave Smith's Sequential Circuits (SCI) and released in 1985. It was the company's first sampler, and, despite its low audio fidelity and technical limitations by modern standards, marked a shift toward affordable samplers with better audio quality than its predecessors. It is also considered to be one of the earliest multitimbral samplers.


  1. 1 2 Cockerell, David (1 October 2013). "Interview – David Cockerell". Archived from the original on 21 October 2017. on "These Hopeful Machines". Archived from the original on 21 October 2017. as a corner of radio program "Sound Lounge". Radio New Zealand. [Q] ...Chronometer [3], as I understand it, the sounds of the clock mechanisms and all the rest of it were effectively sampled by an ADC, stored and manipulated by the computer and then spat out again. What was the breakthrough ... [A] Peter kept buying the latest computers that came out and of course the memory increased. Then I built him a hard disc recorder so that one could store some of the sounds on this hard disc. ...{{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. Nunzio, Alex Di (16 May 2014). "The structure". MUSYS. / Archived from the original on 21 October 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2017. figure 2 A summary that shows the position of the two PDP computers within the MUSYS system, and all the devices connected to them.{{cite book}}: External link in |quote= (help)CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)|url-status = live |archive-url = |archive-date = 21 October 2017 }}
  3. Hinton, Graham (27 December 2002). "The Putney Studio (1970)". EMS: The Inside Story. Cornwall, UK: Electronic Music Studios. Archived from the original on 13 May 2016.
  4. Grogono, Peter (1973). "MUSYS: Software for an electronic music studio". Software: Practice and Experience. 3 (4): 369–383. doi:10.1002/spe.4380030410. ISSN   1097-024X. S2CID   206507040.
    "[SUMMARY] MUSYS is a system of programs used to create electronic music at the computer studio of Electronic Music Studios, London. This paper describes the programming language employed by composers, and the implementation of its compiler and of other programs in the system. It is shown that by the use of a macrogenerator, an efficient and useful system can be built from simple software on a small computer."
  5. Grogono, Peter (26 November 2014). "Electronic Music Studios (London) Ltd". Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, Concordia University. (See also: "The Mouse Programming Language".)
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    • According to Cockerell 2013, this piece was "realised in 1971–72 by Peter Zinovieff at the Putney studio".
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    "...Mendell's pursuit of innovation, which brought some rather momentous results during his undergraduate years at Penn. / It was then, in the mid-1970s, that Mendell invented the world's first digital sampling synthesizer at an electronic-music laboratory that had been set up in the Annenberg Center. ... / Mendell licensed the Melodian technology to Yamaha, which used it to make a chip for commercial purposes. He also worked with Commodore. ... / A few days after our meeting, Mendell sends an email with the subject line "Exactly what I had in mind (in 1975)!"..."
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